The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

A Richard and Judy Book Club pick for summer 2019

Book blurb

Grace, Nadia and Mr Williams see each other at work every day. But it will take a crisis for them to finally reveal the truth about themselves.

Grace is 40 and in love with David. Her life is about to fall apart in the most shocking of ways.

Nadia is 17 and furious. She knows that love will only let her down: if she is going to succeed it will be on her own terms.

Maurice Williams is 86. He has discovered a lot about love in his long life, and even more about people. And yet he keeps secrets.

Sometimes you have to hit the bottom in order to find a way back. And sometimes you need a friend, or two, by your side when you triumph.

My thoughts

When I began this story I wasn’t sure that it was quite right for me. Grace and David’s relationship didn’t sit well. I have known friends, seen friends torn up with this kind of relationship and it isn’t good, it isn’t kind, someone – more than one – will get hurt. Mind you Anstey Harris portrays it well and does not get overly sentimental nor too cruel. Judges it well and gives an insight into each of those involved. One or two instances certainly made me smile or at least nod with satisfaction. How it evolves in the book for Grace, how it makes her react and act is necessary to the storyline. I was soon swept up with Grace.

Grace, Nadia and Mr Williams swept up with them all and their realistic, understated but wonderful friendship. Everyone should know this sort of friendship in their life, how happy we all would be. How lucky those of us are that do have friendships like this.

Grace is a maker of musical instruments and I found the parts of this book which described the process interesting and quite soothing. Graces back story weaves it’s way through the book and you come to learn how she got to the place she is now. She is successful in her career and yet has a profound sense of loss, of not quite reaching her full potential. Nadia is feisty, lovable, annoying, naive and wise in that way teenagers can be. Mr Williams is a slightly more subdued character within the book, you hear of him rather than about him. Grace is working on an instrument for him. Yet it is Mr Williams that makes a pivotal decision for Grace. Then there are the instruments – violins, violas, cellos – I could hear them in my thoughts, feel them in my heart and soul.

I was immersed in the characters, the instruments, the music and the storyline in this beautifully written, immensely engaging and downright captivating book.

Anstey Harris has written a wonderful story, this book is one of the best I have read this year and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

With thanks to Simon and Schuster via NetGalley for an eCopy of The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton in exchange for an honest opinion.


Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Author: Anstey Harris teaches creative writing for Canterbury Christ Church University and in the community with her own company, Writing Matters. She has been featured in various literary magazines and anthologies, been shortlisted for many prizes, and won the H G Wells Short Story Award. Anstey lives in Kent, UK and is the mother of the singer-songwriter Lucy Spraggan.

Follow: @Anstey_Harris


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