“The death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world.” – Edgar Allan Poe
This beautiful quote was one of the many that was used as a prologue of sorts for each episode of the miniseries. Edgar Allan Poe is the perfect writer to be quoting because this series went into the macabre and dark parts of a beautifully told story about murder.
Alias Grace tells the story of young Grace Marks, a poor Irish immigrant and domestic servant in Upper Canada who is accused and convicted of the 1843 murder of her employer and his housekeeper. Stablehand James McDermott is also convicted of the crime. McDermott is hanged, but Grace is sentenced to life in prison, leading her to become one of the most notorious women of the period in Canada. The story is based on actual 19th-century events.
It begins with Grace speaking about her preference for the word Murderess because “Murder is merely brutal, it’s like a hammer or a lump of metal. I’d rather be a Murderess than a Murderer if those are the only choices.”
Grace is an intelligent, seemingly innocent character who easily gets the sympathies of those around her. Sarah Gadon was cast perfectly, as her porcelain appearance and soulful blue eyes help to lure the viewers into her story. Although I have not read the novel by Margaret Atwood , I found the attention to Grace’s mental health and instability as a character a work of art. Only someone as brilliant as Atwood could create such a believable yet unreliable character. We do not know what is true and what is false. What we are to believe and what is to be taken as a work of fiction. Doctor Simon Jordan (played by Edward Holcroft) is a clever, intuitive man who wishes to understand Grace and determine her degree of innocence. It is through Grace and Dr. Jordan’s discussions that we find out about Grace’s history, as well as the events that lead up to and succeed the murders in question. All the characters are profound and enhance the story, adding greatly to the detail that makes this series so fascinating. Although it is difficult not to give too much away, the ending was unexpected. I am an optimistic romantic and thus I was a little disappointed in the outcome. My disappointment was not because of the story, or the series itself but rather the way that we conclude our time with Grace. Like I said, I am a romantic and I live for ideal endings.
I highly recommend this series for everyone. It is a period drama, with the brilliance of a good fiction piece. It has a little bit of lust, lots of drama and a few murders in between.