SugarHouse Mama

Monday, November 10, 2008

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

I read Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood as one of my Halloween books. I had heard some good things about it so I decided, what the heck, it fits the bill for a Halloween book well enough.

I really liked Atwood's character treatment of Grace. Grace had wonderful depth - your opinion of her innocence changed constantly throughout the novel. Just as it would, I suppose, if you really interacted with her.

The doctor's character was really boring for me. I found myself skimming through the details of his life. He seemed, to me, to be a weak person who simply allows life to happen instead of taking action. Of course, I suppose the same could be argued about Grace.... Somehow, though, it felt different. Most likely because he was educated, and basically a man of means. It's the makings for a good discussion, though: How much of life is destined - What can we actually control in life - To what degree do we allow events to define the course of our life?

While the writing was captivating (Atwood has a simple, direct way of making ambiguous feelings startlingly and almost painfully clear) the ending felt contrived and a little clumsy.

There's no real neat-and-tidy, did-she-or-didn't-she ending to the story. But I suppose the novel isn't about the plot, anyway. How can it be when it's based on a famous story that many people are familiar with? There is a certain unnerving, lovely, freedom in being able to make up your own mind as the reader. There is an unbalanced power in it that is rare and delicious.

My problem is that Atwood seems to lean a little heavily to one side, but still refrains from making a definitive choice. I don't know if I dare commit myself to this, but I think it would be better for the author to completely disguise his/her opinions if the intent is to leave it open for the reader to decide. I'll have to ponder that one.

Anyway, it was a good read, I enjoyed the writing, and there are a few fun plot twists. Just don't read it expecting some answer to whether or not Grace is innocent....

No comments: