Alias Grace (and the Real Grace Marks)

Alias Grace (and the Real Grace Marks)


Alias Grace is another of my favorite Netflix miniseries. It’s based on a 1996 novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood, which in turn is based on a real-life incident. I’ll talk about the show first.

Alias Grace tells the story of Grace Marks, a poor Irish immigrant, and a domestic servant in Upper Canada. She comes to Canada with her eight siblings and parents, but her mother dies on the ship. Her father was an abusive alcoholic. Poverty urges her to become a servant. She is befriended by Mary Whitney, who later dies, due to ……well, I leave that for you to find out ;). But after her death, a series of events leading up to her being the celebrated murderess of Mr. Kinnear, her then employer, and Miss Nancy Montgomery (housekeeper-lover), at Richmond Hill, Ontario, for which she was convicted along with the stable help James McDermott, who was hanged as punishment.


The story is narrated in a subtle and confusing manner through Grace’s point of view as she tries to recollect her life events to Dr. Jordan, again I’ll leave you to find out who that is.

The story is well played, but after watching the last episode, it somehow leaves its viewer a little confused over what actually happened. Grace Marks remains an enigma, just as in the novel as well as in the real life.

Now let’s see who the real Grace Marks is.

Whatever is said in the story is somewhat true, in its real-life context. Little is known about Grace Marks’ past, but it’s true that she was a poor Irish immigrant. She was 16 at the time of her conviction and James Mc Dermott was 20. During the proceedings, they blamed each other for what happened. Before McDermott went to the scaffold, he insisted that Grace had strangled Nancy herself with her handkerchief.


Grace gave three conflicting accounts of the murder while McDermott gave two. In one of Grace’s accounts, she states that after Nancy Montgomery had fired James Mc Dermott, he was determined to kill her and Mr. Kinnear. Grace claimed that she tried to run away from the house after they were killed, but McDermott tried to shoot her.

She was sent to a lunatic asylum although it’s not clear why. It was suggested that she may have had some kind of personality disorder or that she was possessed by the consciousness of her late friend, Mary Whitney. Another bizarre theory was that Mary Whitney had adopted Grace Marks’ identity. After almost thirty years in detention, she was pardoned and then she moved to New York. Little is known about her after that. She remains an enigma to this day, as well as what really happened during the murders of Mr. Kinnear and Miss Nancy Montgomery.

Have you watched Alias Grace? What do you think about the show? Let us know!


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