Alias Grace

In 2015, Chennai, a city in South India, experienced one of the worst floods in its history. I was a victim. Stranded in an apartment alone for five days, I just had a couple of candles and Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last for company. Everyday, as darkness fell, I opened its pages, reading only a few at a time, for I was scared to finish it before the water cleared outside. I had gotten attached to Stan and Charmaine and their life in the Positron Prison. I shared their emotions, for I was in a prison of sorts. It’s probably the time that I picked to read that book, but ever since, I have been a Margaret Atwood fan. Later, I picked The Handmaid’s Tale, and binge-watched the series on Hulu soon after. A few months hence, I decided to start another of hers. Alias Grace. The book is unconventional in its format. With multiple news reports, and excerpts from literary masterpieces. While the first half was a drag, the second, leaped forward like a horse on steroids. Grace, a teenager with a somber demeanor and an alluring beauty, is accused of murdering her master and housekeeper, with the aid of another helper in the house. But was she actually a part of it? I assumed, rather strongly, ‘not’. My curiosity was tepid to start with. I found myself racing through the parts where she narrates her childhood and slowing down as the plot gets closer to the murder. There are parts concerning hypnotism and somnambulism which seem a little abstruse. But it’s padded with a good amount of drama, which kept me hooked. However, it felt wrong to sip a glass a lemonade and devour on it languidly under the bright sun… solely for the fact that there was in the late 1800s a real person named Grace. A ravishing beauty. Murderess. Talk of the media in Canada and the US. Most of what’s in the book was inspired by the unfortunate events as they had happened then.


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The end.


Between the pages

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Would I ever go on an Appalachian trail in my life? I am close to 60 pages through reading Bill Bryson’s A walk in the woods, and I have a definite answer: No. The long-exhaustive walks that Bryson describes somehow make me think of Guantanamo Bay prisoners. And then there is the constant anxiety of being preyed upon by giant bears. That apart, the squat-in-the-open-and-poop scenarios, the occasional slap on the face by a slab of cold wind, ominous woods, slimy leeches, the whole shindig of the many bugs, and the idea of zipping oneself up inside a nylon tent and then again inside a sleeping bag… let’s say, is just not me.

Having said that, I am all for an ‘armchair trek’. From the comfort of my warm home, I am on the longest trek vicariously through Bryson. I can hear his frighteningly short breaths as he walks miles and miles with a backpack that feels like a sack of bricks. I have a tent for myself beside Bryson’s, from the inside of which, I can listen to the birds chirp, and the crackling of burning wood. I too, like Bryson, can feel the comfort of hot coffee, trickling down my throat. A temporary relief to the biting cold.

Yep, the book is a fun read. To add to the fun, I made this little bookmark on an index card, and used a uni-ball pen for the sketch that is inspired by artist Olga Tropinina’s illustration.