In 1840s Toronto, a woman named Grace Marks, just shy of 16 years old, escapes with a man after one or both of them murder their employer and his housekeeper-turned-mistress. The man, James McDermott, is hanged after their conviction, but Grace is granted a life sentence amid much controversy over her role in the violence. Atwood spins a delightfully subversive Victorian novel from the historical record of Grace Marks, in which Grace and the other women that cross near her path are variably innocent, abused, precarious, clever—and, inevitably—dead. At one point, Grace remarks “[The Bible] says there were two different trees, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge; but I believe there was only one, and that the Fruit of Life and the Fruit of Good and Evil were the same. And if you ate of it you would die, but if you didn’t eat of it you would die also; although if you did eat of it, you would be less bone-ignorant by the time you got around to your death.” Indeed.