Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Review, Saving Grace by Ciara Geraghty,

Saving Grace By Ciara Geraghty.
Published by Hachette Books Ireland at 15.99.
Published by The Irish Examiner on 24th August 2008.

Grace O’Brien is in a mess. She wakes, to find herself in bed with the office geek. She doesn’t know where she is or how she got there; and in her hung-over state, she forgets her bridesmaid fitting. Arriving late, she splits the size 14 dress. The bride, her sister Clare, is understanding, but her mum is not best pleased.

Along with all the confusion, is shame. Grace has been going out with the wonderful Shane for almost two years now. He’s an Adonis, but, we soon learn, he’s also self-centred and controlling. Now living in London he plays on Grace’s insecurities.

There are so many new authors writing about love; about relationships, family dynamics and friendship. But its years since I read a debut that does it so well. Told in the first person by Grace, this novel simply bubbles along. I loved it.

Saving Grace is a page turner, but that doesn’t stop it from being beautifully written. Its characters are so real, so rounded, and so empathic that not only do you feel you know them all, you fervently wish that you did.

There’s Caroline, Shane’s sister, a beauty, whom men adore; all except for the blind date that she decides is ‘the one.’ There’s Laura the office gossip, and self confessed office slut- until, that is, she, too, meets her match. And there’s a huge cast of colleagues, neighbours, and family, each one of them lovingly drawn.

Then there’s Patrick, Grace’s brother, the centre of it all, even though he drowned in Spain a year earlier. It’s not just his letters that keep his memory alive. It’s the grief and guilt felt by everyone who knew and loved him that makes him the lynchpin to everything else that happens.

The action follows the weeks before Clare’s wedding. We follow Grace through her unexpected promotion at work; through her gradual romantic awakening, and with her increasingly fractured relationship with her mother.

Nothing Grace does pleases her mother. She accuses Grace of always having to be the centre of attention. Things come to a head on Clare’s wedding day. Determined to take a back seat, Grace ends up stealing the show in the worst possible way. Can things resolve?

Reading the book in a café, I laughed out loud. I cried too. I was totally immersed in Grace’s world. This Dublin writer is a name to watch.

©Sue Leonard.

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