Review published on January 8, 2018.
Reminiscent for me of Emma Donoghue’s historical work, this caught my attention after Atwood’s recent TV adaptations. I’ve been a fan of hers for years, loving The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake and The Blind Assassin, so it felt strange but refreshing to try a ‘true story’ by the dystopic writer.
A convicted murderer, Grace Marks, is visited by a new doctor, keen to dig deeper into the psyche of the young woman who in 1843 was involved in a double killing. Is she guilty? Was she a willing participant? Mentally unwell? She insists she cannot remember the events of the murders…
Over time, Dr Jordan meets with Grace and she tells him her story, about her life. It’s a rather fascinating look at a time of class distinction and builds nicely from childhood to the day of the killings.
You’re never quite sure what to think of Grace – innocent or conniving murderess? The doctor has his own life and story away from his patient, though I wasn’t too interested in this.
The voices are all provided by one female, and I forgot all about this, even though the narrator voices Dr Jordan as well as Grace – she did a great job of bringing them both to life. Grace is a meeker prospect, a lower class young girl who speaks at length to her doctor. It was an easy listen, it kept my attention and the style of the book worked well as an audiobook.
I was glad that we got a proper conclusion, even if, as the author herself speaks in an afterword, it is gathered from evidence. Quite a fascinating story.
Katy Noyes 5/4
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