It’s always a risky business when someone takes your favourite book to the screen. Most of the time someone else’s interpretation of a story won’t suit the picture you had in your head. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood is one of my all-time favourite books – filled with intrigue and suspense, snide commentary and sneaky flirtations. Atwood has a fantastic tongue-in-cheek writing style that is clever, funny and slightly twisted. I highly recommend reading everything she writes.
Anyway, since I love the book so much, I was tentative about the new series that recently hit Netflix. Luckily, the team has done a brilliant job at capturing the essence of the story.
Alias Grace is a six-part mini series set in the 1800s, that follows Grace Marks, a poor, young Irish immigrant who has been convicted to life imprisonment for the brutal murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery.
While Atwood’s story is fictional, it is based on real events around the notorious murdress, Grace Marks, who was convicted in 1843.
The story is told through a series of interviews between Grace and Dr. Simon Jordan, who has been appointed to find out whether she has been fairly convicted, or whether she is actually innocent. It’s a fascinating play between truth and deception.
I think Sarah Gadon is wonderful in the role of Grace, perfectly capturing an innocence mixed with a dangerous undercurrent that keeps you on your toes. Edward Holcroft is equally brilliant as the good doctor, who attempts to unravel this complicated person.
I also love the way they’ve worked in the written pieces from the book into the dialogue, with tangible lines, like this one:
“Murderess is a strong word to have attached to you. It has a smell to it, that word—musky and oppressive, like dead flowers in a vase. Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.”
If you love period dramas and suspense, I recommend you give this one a try.
The series aired on 3 November 2017 and is currently streaming on Netflix.