#AliasGrace2016 – Playing the Part



To learn more about this read-along, please read the master post.


My apologies for not being able to keep up with my own read-along! Every time I sit down to write, I get interrupted. Hopefully, some of you are still with me. Let’s just throw that reading schedule out the window and keep moving along the best we can.

In chapters IV to VII, we dive a little bit deeper into Dr. Jordan’s character. We discover the anxieties that plague him: a sick, yet still overbearing mother from afar, the indecision about whether to marry and settle down, and the pressure to prove himself professionally to his peers and those with an interest in Grace’s case. There is always a shadow across Dr. Jordan’s thoughts and dreams, a darker side to his personality that appears to be slowly disintegrating.

Grace has come to enjoy his company, but was being coy during their initial interviews. She can sense that Dr. Jordan is losing his motivation, so she tells him about her childhood in Ireland and how she came to Canada. In Toronto, she begins working as a servant, a good job for a girl coming from an poor immigrant family, but not without its hazards. While serving in the household of an influential family, Grace meets Mary Whitney, a young girl who not only shows her the ropes, but is the first person with whom Grace comes to know true friendship. Mary is self-assured and and quite happy to share her wisdom about the ways of the world. It is the happiest time in Grace’s life until tragedy strikes.

In these chapters, Dr. Jordan gave me the impression of a predator who is under the radar, always observing women young and old. The way women look, smell and move, trying to penetrate their intelligence or sexuality. Yet Dr. Jordan also seems uncomfortable in social situations. His troubles have paralyzed and worn him out, so he merely muddles through each situation.

The only person Dr. Jordan seems relaxed around is Grace Marks. I don’t detect any sexual tension, but there is definitely an affinity between them. This connection made me realize how much Dr. Jordan is putting on his own masks and playing “the game” just like Grace is in order to survive his time in Kingston.


1. Why do you think Dr. Jordan is so comfortable with Grace? What is their connection?

2. Is it possible Grace might be embellishing her story to keep Dr. Jordan hooked?

3. Do you think Dr. Jordan is truly interested in finding out the truth or using his time with Grace as a distraction?

Post your thoughts in the comment section below. Happy reading!


7 comments on “#AliasGrace2016 – Playing the Part

  1. Naomi
    November 5, 2016

    I’m still with you!

    1. Maybe it’s because Grace doesn’t have any expectations of him like everyone else does. She doesn’t really know what he is there to do, while everyone else knows exactly who he is and what he’s hoping to do. Also, Grace is a good storyteller, allowing him to just relax into their visits.

    2. It’s possible, but I had the feeling that Grace was just telling it the way she experienced it and remembered it. There were a few times that she left something out of her story, but the reader was in on it when she did.

    3. I think he’s truly interested – who wouldn’t be? I wish I knew! But I also think he is interested in testing out his theories and strategies and proving himself in the process. I think he’s hopeful, at first, that he can do what no one has been able to do yet with Grace.

    I also noticed Dr. Jordan’s tendency to point out women’s appearances and smells, but I didn’t take it as predatory – I just thought we were getting a look at his private thoughts. Sometimes he even seemed to be surprised by his own thoughts. I get the impression that he is still inexperienced and awkward and unsure of himself.


    • ebookclassics
      November 10, 2016

      It never occurred to me that Grace doesn’t really know the full extent of Dr. Jordan’s plans. In the beginning, I thought she might try to manipulate him during his visits, but feel now that she’s just improvising.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Naomi
        November 10, 2016

        She always seems clueless about why he’s there, and why he asks the questions he does (and why he brings along the vegetables). Then she starts to figure out what kinds of things she says make him happy and cause him to write in his notebook.


  2. TJ @ MyBookStrings
    November 7, 2016

    I’m still with you as well, although I haven’t been able to pick up the book for over a week now. (I’m only just past her arrival at the new position outside of town.) I really enjoyed this part of the book, where Grace tells about her life, her arrival in Canada, and her beginnings as a servant girl. And I think this seemingly straightforward telling has put Dr. Jordan at ease. He arrived with the notion that he had to have a breakthrough discovery to further his career, but at the moment, there’s not much for him to do except listen. He doesn’t have to analyze anything just yet, so it takes away the pressure he has put on himself. But I also think he believes himself to be fully in control of these meetings. I’m not sure he is aware that Grace might be controlling their meetings by deciding what to tell him and how to tell it. I’m not sure that’s what’s really going on, but there have been a few hints that maybe she’s presenting her story in a certain light on purpose. She is smart enough to embellish her story in ways that would evoke his sympathy. I don’t think Dr. Jordan set out to find out what really happened, or if he did, then it was mostly for his own sake, not for Grace’s sake. I think it was a distraction from the pressure to marry and settle down and have a successful career. But I think that is starting to change now that he knows Grace personally. It’s starting to be not only about him, but also about her. I didn’t see him as a predator, just as an awkward man who because of changed circumstances is forced to shape his life differently than he had always imagined.


    • ebookclassics
      November 10, 2016

      My feeling is that Grace and Dr. Jordan are comfortable around each other because they are both outsiders and have never felt at home anywhere. I think Grace’s story resonates with Dr. Jordan and he empathizes with how her life tragically unravelled.


  3. buriedinprint
    November 10, 2016

    I reread this last year, so I’m not reading along with you, but your second question does remind me how much more aware I was, on a second reading, of the way in which Atwood is addressing storytelling and narrative and what-parts-matter when we observe/retell, with Grace’s recounting. It’s fascinating!


    • ebookclassics
      November 10, 2016

      The storytelling truly is fascinating and handled in such a clever manner. I really enjoy how Atwood through Grace spins the tale, but with a nudge wink to the reader when she admits to omitting information or telling Dr. Jordan how she truly feels.


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