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Book DetailsISBN: 9781471173806
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Book Review: The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris - Reviewed by CloggieA (22 Jan 2019)
“We are an engine, the three of us, and we play with exactness, precision. We play like we are making a pact with the devil. We run through the music three times, stretching out the tune because we can’t bear to hear it end. Somehow, on the last note of the third turn around, we all stop. The silence is deafening. It feels like smoke... Nadia is grinning like a demon. We are untidy, sweaty. We are all excited and aflame.”
The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton (also published as Goodbye, Paris) is the second novel by prize-winning British teacher, lecturer and author, Anstey Harris. When she is in Kent, Grace Atherton is a maker and restorer of string instruments: violins, violas, ‘cellos and double basses. She plays the ‘cello, but only in private: it relaxes, calms, heals and restores her. And when David visits, she’s his lover. In Paris, her time is exclusively David’s. But Grace is also the other woman, because in Strasbourg, David Hewitt has a wife and three children.
David and his wife have an agreement, and they’re staying together for the children. Grace patiently waits for the day she and David can be together and start their own family. But one fateful night, as David and Grace wait on a Metro platform, an unexpected event puts them in the social media spotlight, with all of France is looking for the mystery hero that David has become, and suddenly, their relationship is under threat. Just then, Grace has no idea how much she is going to need the friendship and support of her casual shop assistant, Nadia, and her long-time customer, the dapper Mr Williams.
Against a background of fascinating detail about the classical music world in general, and the making of string instruments, in particular, Harris gives the reader a wonderful story of love and betrayal, of friendship and loyalty, of dedication and abuse. With her beautiful descriptive prose, she easily captures small town Kent, Paris and Cremona. Her love of classical music and the instruments that make it is apparent on every page, and their beauty is perfectly depicted.
The characters that populate the tale are easily believable and, mostly, appealing, and their reactions to what occurs in their lives are generally quite credible. Even before the (unsurprising) truth is revealed about David, readers will be wondering if Grace is incredibly naïve, or whether David is an accomplished liar. But it is easy to see how a vulnerable Grace falls so deeply in love with this man. There’s certainly a moment where Grace seems about to weaken, and the reader will be mentally urging her to keep her resolve. A heart-warming read from a talented author.
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