Fans champing at the bit for a new season of The Handmaid’s Tale can take comfort in knowing that another Margaret Atwood novel is being developed into a series, too. The 1996 book, Alias Grace, takes place in the mid-1800s and centers around a woman who has been convicted of murdering a wealthy man and his housekeeper. The thing is, she seems to have no recollection of the incident, or much else – claiming to have amnesia.
Wildly, Alias Grace is technically historical fiction, since it’s based on real events from the life of Ireland-born woman Grace Marks. In 1843, Marks was convicted of the murder of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery. At the time, Marks was a teenager working in the home. It’s a creepy enough story, but Atwood’s take on it is much stranger and more unsettling. It’s got everything: repressed memories, mysteries, Methodists, you name it.
Atwood’s book attracted a lot of interest at the time, compounded by the fact that another famous female murderer, Karla Homolka, had undergone a huge trial just a couple of years earlier. I guess when it comes to true crime, there aren’t a ton of women perpetrators, so comparisons beg to be made.
The new trailer for Alias Grace makes it look like it’s borrowing at least somewhat from the aesthetic of The Handmaid’s Tale, but I’m not mad about it. Hulu’s take on Atwood’s work was even better than I could have imagined, and I trust Netflix to do equal justice with a later book of hers.
The show is directed by Mary Herron (American Psycho) and stars Sarah Gadon (11.22.63, Dracula Untold) as Grace Marks. You’ve got until November 3 to read the book it’s based on—the entire series drops on Netflix that Friday.