Longtime Margaret Atwood followers are having a great year.
First, Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale arrived to rave reviews, seemingly providing America with the timely dystopian cautionary tale it needed. Now, Netflix is hopping on the Atwood train with its own miniseries based on the author’s book Alias Grace.
Published in 1996, the work of historical fiction centers on the very real deaths of Thomas Kinnear and his pregnant mistress/housekeeper Nancy Montgomery, allegedly murdered by two of Kinnear’s servants, Grace Marks and James McDermott in Upper Canada, a region that is now Ontario. Both were convicted, although the guilt of Marks ― often described as an attractive young woman ― has been feverishly questioned, so much so that she was exonerated after 30 years in prison.
Atwood fictionalizes the 1843 murders in a 468-page story that addresses big, familiar themes like female villainy and how class stratification affects criminal justice. A 1996 review from The New York Times describes the weighty nature of the book well:
“Alias Grace” has the physical heft and weighty authority of a 19th-century novel. In its scope, its moral seriousness, its paradoxically ponderous and engrossing narrative, the book evokes the high Victorian mode, spiced with the spooky plot twists and playfully devious teases of the equally high Gothic ― the literary styles of the period in which the book is set.
According to Entertainment Weekly, “True Blood” favorite Anna Paquin will take on the role of Montgomery, while Sarah Gadon (who was recently in Hulu’s “11.22.63”) will play Marks. Ker Logan and Paul Gross will play the men ― McDermott and Kinnear, respectively. Edward Holcroft will play the fictional doctor added into the story by Atwood.
The miniseries, written and produced by Sarah Polley and directed by “American Psycho” veteran Mary Harron, is set to debut this fall.
This sort of makes up for the fact that HBO dropped Darren Aronofsky’s already-written adaptation of Atwood’s “MaddAddam” trilogy. Can someone jump on that, please?
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article mistakenly described “11.22.63” as a Netflix show. It is a Hulu project.