Dear Grace by Clare Swatman

Having loved Before You Go by Clare Swatman, I broke my self-imposed blog tour ban to participate in the launch celebrations for Clare’s latest book Dear Grace. My enormous thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours  for inviting me to take part.

You’ll find my review of Before You Go here. I was also privileged to interview Clare about her novel, The Mother’s Secret and to review it in a post you’ll find here.

Published in paperback on 12th August, Dear Grace is available for purchase here.

Dear Grace

The most unlikely friendship. The most unexpected consequences.

When Anna’s husband cheats on her, she’s sure she’ll never be happy again. But then she meets 94-year-old Grace. Despite an age gap of more than fifty years, the pair set out together on a life-changing journey halfway across the country in search of some answers.

Sometimes the only way to move on is to revisit the past. But will Anna and Grace be prepared for what they find?

A story about love, female friendship, heartbreak and learning to forgive.

My Review of Dear Grace

Anna is divorcing her husband.

Dear Grace was a total treat of a read, being charming, uplifting and engaging. I felt as if I’d been given time out from a stressful world to discover three wonderful people whom I thoroughly enjoyed meeting.

The plot in Dear Grace is relatively gentle with few great dramas and this is its absolute success. Clare Swatman lays out exactly the kind of life and experience anyone can relate to so that Dear Grace feels authentic, realistic and all the more engaging as a result. I felt very much as if I’d been given a snapshot of real lives that began before I met the characters and would continue after I closed the pages.

The fact that Dear Grace revolves (with a couple of more minor characters like Julia) mostly around Anna, Grace and Tom gives it a beautiful intimacy. I loved all three characters and, rather like Grace, wanted more to develop between Anna and Tom because Clare Swatman made me care about them as real people. Their suspicions about one another, their misunderstandings and their developing acceptance of each other gave Anna and Tom a vivacity I loved. But for me, it was Grace who stole the show. At 95 her resilience and feistiness illustrate that old age does not have to mean life is over. Through her friendship with Anna and the outings they go on Clare Swatman shows us just how much there is to enjoy at so many levels in life. Grace also exemplifies how our past might shape us but that it doesn’t have to control us so that I felt Dear Grace was a positive and enlightening narrative.

The themes are gorgeous. There’s love, including romantic love, but also enduring, unrequited, familial, and platonic, making for a really satisfying read. Add in the concepts of memory, identity, mental health, care for the elderly and personal response to adversity and the challenges we are presented with in life, and Dear Grace has depth and interest that I wasn’t initially expecting. The exploration of friendship across generations is so important and I feel Dear Grace could be the panacea the world needs.

With Clare Swatman’s smooth authorial style and naturalistic dialogue I was captivated throughout, but I especially enjoyed the Lowestoft setting as it is brilliantly depicted. I could picture it perfectly in my mind’s eye so that reading Dear Grace was akin to taking a small holiday too – with sun, rain and wind so common in the UK!

Readers wanting high drama, visceral crime and psychological twists should look elsewhere than Dear Grace, but those looking for a book that feels right; warm, caring and able to ameliorate the woes of the world, will love it. Although there is sadness and regret as well as happiness and joy in Dear Grace, I loved it because it made me feel happy and as if the world is a better place. I really recommend it.

About Clare Swatman

Clare Swatman is an author and journalist. She has had two previous novels published, with her debut, Before You Go, selling in 22 territories around the world. She has also spent 20 years writing for women’s magazines in the UK.

Her latest novel, Dear Grace, is inspired by her love of Lowestoft, the town where she spent many happy holidays with her late grandparents.

Clare lives in Hertfordshire in the UK with her husband and two boys. Even the cat is male, which means she’s destined to be outnumbered forever.

For more information, visit Clare’s website, follow her on Twitter @clareswatman, or find her on Instagram and Facebook.

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