Tuesday, July 17, 2018

TV Tuesday: Alias Grace

My husband's been traveling a bit lately, so I've been on the lookout for some new shows I can watch on my own (he and I have a long list of shows that we watch together!). One that I am enjoying is Alias Grace, the Netflix mini-series based on the historical novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood (my review of the book is at the link). I enjoyed the intriguing and compelling novel, and so far, the TV series is just as good.

It is based on the true story of Grace Marks, a young woman in Ontario accused of murder in 1843 and sentenced to life in prison at the age of sixteen. As the show opens, we see Grace in prison twenty years later, going to the adjoining Governor's house each day as a servant and returning to the prison each night. Dr. Simon Jordan, an American doctor in the new field of psychiatry, has been brought in by a local group who want to free Grace to assess her mental condition and get behind her amnesia of the events on the day of the murders to find out what really happened. From then, much of the action takes place in flashbacks, as Grace describes for Dr. Jordan, in great detail, her early life, her family's emigration to Canada from Ireland, her first job as a house maid, and her later job at the home where the murders took place. The story emerges bit by bit, with glimpses of Grace both in the past and today in the prison and the Governor's house. It's clear that Dr. Jordan is fascinated by Grace, though her memories of that fateful day remain trapped inside so far.

I'm just a few episodes into the 6-episode series, but I am enjoying it very much. The story has so far stayed close to the book, and it is wonderful to see this intriguing novel brought to life on the screen. While the story is engrossing, part of the appeal of this show (and the book) are the details of life in the 1800's - seeing Toronto as a growing city with muddy roads or the way that poor people lived or the wealthy homes are run with the servants' lives behind the scenes. The settings and costumes are as fascinating as the story. As with the book, the question that runs through the entire story is whether Grace Marks actually committed the murders she is accused of or whether she was an innocent victim? You decide (our book group was split!). Either way, this suspenseful historical fiction will keep you riveted.

Alias Grace is a Netflix original program, so it is available for streaming only on Netflix or you can get the DVD (buy it or borrow from your library).

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