Margaret Atwood: The Gift of Writing Books Highlighting Women

To pick up a book by the Canadian author Margaret Atwood and to discover a female protagonist doesn’t come as a surprise. The many struggles faced by women are a common theme in her books, irrespective of them being categorised as literary, historical fiction, dystopian or myth retellings. The female characters born solely of her imagination or inspired by real-life events are more often than not memorable, which is not only the result of a believable characterisation, but also of an alluring writing style.

Born on 18 November 1939 in Ottawa, Margaret Atwood is the author of eighteen novels, fifteen books of poetry and ten short story collections, having also written non-fiction and children’s books. So far, I’ve read seven of her books. Her work has been translated into more than 30 languages. Moreover, she has also taught English Literature at various Canadian and American universities.

It’s not wrong to say that she is one of the most celebrated Canadian writers. The extensive number of prizes that Atwood has won and been nominated for is not a coincidence. She has been the recipient of the Booker Prize twice. In 2019, she shared the prize with Bernardine Evaristo, causing an uproar. Awarding the Booker to The Testaments may have been unfair. The accolade that The Blind Assassin got in 2000 I consider much more suitable, however. Continue reading

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Pairs of Books to Gift this Christmas

Are your dear friends and family members eager to receive books this Christmas? One of the options that will make them love you even more is to present them with two books that share some similarities, so they can compare and contrast. Some of the books I’m about to recommend are on the surface obviously very much alike. However, they are not carbon copy of one another. Not only do their authors have disparate writing styles, but the details of the plot also end up making them unique in many ways.

 

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Both Burial Rites and Alias Grace are fictional books inspired by real-life occurrences – two women are considered guilty of murdering two people each. But did they? In Burial Rites, Hannah Kent presents the touching and poignant story of Agnes, whom was sentenced to death after being considered guilty of killing her lover, Nathan, and Pétur in Iceland in the 19th century. While awaiting the day of her execution at the house of one of the officers in the district, she is visited by Assistant Reverend Thorvardur and tells him her version of events.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood focuses on the role that Grace Marks played in the murders of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery. While in prison, she receives the visit of doctor Simon Jordan and recalls various moments from her life until then. Grace’s inner thoughts and reminiscences are strikingly turn into words. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – January 2018

January hasn’t been a particularly remarkable month generally speaking. It was a strange period during which I was both disappointed Christmas was over and eager for spring to finally come. Nevertheless, I have a few favourites to share with you concerning books, music and TV series.

At the end of last year, I watched the first season of The Crown and surprisingly quite enjoyed it. This month I watched the second season, but unfortunately ended up not liking it as much. However, there was one episode that stood out from the rest: Dear Mrs Kennedy. Immediately after watching it, I proceeded to search for information about the events mentioned to know whether the meeting between Elizabeth and Jackie Kennedy was true or fiction.

I haven’t read that many books this month. In fact, so far, I’ve only finished one, Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, and am currently forcing myself to get to the end of Sibila by Agustina Bessa-Luís, mainly because she is one of the authors featured in my list of 100 women writers to read in my lifetime. All things considered, Alias Grace deserves a place among my favourites from this month. This is a novel about Grace Marks and the role she played in the murders of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery. While reading it, I felt like a detective looking for clues that would make sense of the events surrounding the crimes. Continue reading

‘Alias Grace’ by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 4 stars

While reading Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, I felt almost like a detective searching for clues that could shed light on the role of the main character, Grace Marks, in the murders of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper. This book is based on a true story, and I became rather intrigued by it while reading the fairly mysterious first chapter.

The narration of the book starts in 1851, when Grace is 24 years old. She has been in jail for eight years, since she was found guilty, together with James McDermott, of the two murders. While James was hanged, she is serving a life sentence at a penitentiary in Canada. They both worked at Thomas Kinnear’s house, Grace as a serving maid and James as a stable hand.

One day in 1859, she is at the parlour of the Governor’s wife, where she spends some time helping with the chores, when a doctor arrives with the aim of measuring her head. However, as he approaches her, she starts screaming, being afterwards taken to solitary confinement. While there, she receives a visit from another doctor, Simon Jordan, who wants to hear everything she has to say, since he focuses on the “diseases of the mind and brain, and the nerves”. Continue reading

Book Haul – November / December 2017

I don’t know if you remember, but I was trying not to buy any more books until the end of the year. Obviously, I was unsuccessful! I blame Black Friday and other random discounts. I probably won’t even manage to get to some of the books mentioned below during the following twelve months or so, thanks to a reading plan I have for next year (I’ll reveal it on a future post about my bookish resolutions for 2018). But it’s really hard to resist a bargain.

So, without further ado (and pointless excuses), these are my most recent acquisitions:

 

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is one of the authors I plan to read a book by every year. So, I needed to buy a new one for 2018. It was quite easy to choose Alias Grace, because I’m rather curious about the TV series adaptation and don’t want to watch it before reading the book. Inspired by the 1843 murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery in Upper Canada, it delves into the story of Grace Marks through a “tale of sexuality, cruelty and mystery”. Continue reading