It seems a while ago now when I was privileged to meet Anstey Harris, author of The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, at a wonderful evening hosted by Books and the City @TeamBATC for Simon and Schuster. I wrote about that evening in a post you can read here.
Today I’m thrilled to share my review of this lovely book.
The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton will be published by Simon and Schuster on 10th January 2018 and is available for pre-order through the links here.
The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton
Between the simple melody of running her violin shop and the full-blown orchestra of her romantic interludes in Paris with David, her devoted partner of eight years, Grace Atherton has always set her life to music.
Her world revolves entirely around David, for Grace’s own secrets have kept everyone else at bay. Until, suddenly and shockingly, one act tips Grace’s life upside down, and the music seems to stop.
It takes a vivacious old man and a straight-talking teenager to kickstart a new chapter for Grace. In the process, she learns that she is not as alone in the world as she had once thought, that no mistake is insurmountable, and that the quiet moments in life can be something to shout about …
My review of The Truth and Triumphs of Grace Atherton
Madly in love with David, Grace hasn’t played her ‘cello in public for years.
The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton is a beautiful, beautiful book.
I am a complete ignoramus about classical music and have no idea how reading about someone playing a ‘cello can reduce me to tears, but the quality of Anstey Harris’s writing is so magical in The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton that I found myself transported by her words. Reading this book opened up a whole world of music and instrument making I had never before appreciated. The writing is so convincing I had to go online and find out more about some of the aspects, but I won’t reveal which in case I spoil any part of the story for other readers.
The characters are wonderful. With most of the action revolving around Grace, David, Mr Williams and Nadia there is an intensity that touches the very soul of the reader. I felt I knew Grace intimately – much better than she knows herself and at one point, mid way into the story I felt as broken by what was happening as is Grace because she was so real to me. I was genuinely terrified by what I thought might happen to these people and found myself shouting ‘Oh no!’ and cheering as I read so that my husband thought I had gone completely insane. It felt to me as if this wasn’t just Grace’s story, but that she was a universal figure whom we all can relate to.
Nadia is the perfect foil to Grace. Her expletives and dynamism give a perfect counterpoint to Grace’s constrained life. I so loved Mr Williams too because his wisdom is pure and unselfish, contrasting brilliantly with the emotional David.
But it is not just the characters who are so well written. Anstey Harris captures Paris so evocatively that I was there walking the streets with Grace. Reading The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton made me want to return to Paris as soon as I can.
Although I have alluded a little bit to the plot and I can’t say too much as I really don’t want to spoil the read for others, let me just say it is absolutely right for the cast of characters. The themes of identity, failure, how the past shapes us in our present, relationships, music, and being true to ourselves are so magically oven together that this was not just a cracking read of a book, but a timeless message for the reader too.
The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton is as warm and vibrating with life, love and emotion as a perfectly tuned ‘cello. It is a sparkling diamond of a book and I adored it.
About Anstey Harris
Anstey Harris is based by the seaside in south-east England where she lives with her violinmaker husband and two dogs. She teaches creative writing in the community, local schools, and as an associate lecturer for Christchurch University in Canterbury.
Anstey writes about the things that make people tick, the things that bind us and the things that can rip us apart. In 2015, she won the H G Wells Short Story Prize for her story, Ruby. In novels, Anstey tries to celebrate uplifting ideas and prove that life is good and that happiness is available to everyone once we work out where to look (usually inside ourselves). Her short stories tend not to end quite so well…
Things that interest Anstey include her children and granddaughter, green issues and conservation, adoption and adoption reunion (she is an adopted child, born in an unmarried mothers’ home in Liverpool in 1965), stepfamilies, dogs, and food. Always food. She would love to be on Masterchef but would never recover from the humiliation if she got sent home in the first round.