Books for fans of Alias Grace


Margaret Atwood based her 1996 novel on the Canadian true-crime story of Grace Marks, an Irish housemaid who, along with a male servant, was accused of killing her master and his housekeeper in 1843. The facts of the case are murky, and the extent of Grace's involvement especially so, but while the man accused was hanged, Grace was sentenced to life imprisonment; a sentence begun in an asylum before her transfer to a prison, where she served almost thirty years before being pardoned and released.

Atwood uses the facts of the case to explore themes of identity, gender, power, and the exploited vulnerabilities of women, servants, and immigrants, inventing a doctor-character who interviews Grace about her experiences and her loss of memory, convinced she is an innocent hysteric rather than a hardened criminal.

Whether "ripped from the archives," or purely fabricated, novels about women who murder, or are accused of murder, are not uncommon, particularly those with a feminist angle, where frustrations born of gender or class inequalities are used to mitigate crimes or make these women more sympathetic to a modern reader. Nothing better than a badass girl except a badass girl with a good reason.

So, since you've already read Alias Grace (and you HAVE, right?), here are some other books with women who kill (oooor dooooo theeeey?), or novels filling in the gaps of fascinating historical incidents.