The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris – review

Published by Simon and Schuster

Publication date -10 January 2019

Source – free review copy

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 …

Grace is visiting her boyfriend David in Paris when an unforseen and dramatic event changes the course of their lives. Suddenly Grace’s world is turned upside down. Slowly she finds her way in the world with the aid of her friends and her first love, music.

The book opens with an explanation about the roots of the ‘cello and it sets a melodic tone for the rest of the novel. This is a gently paced novel. The music sets a mellow tone for the narrative, cocooning the reader. It gives a fascinating insight into a world of instruments and melodies that I wasn’t aware of and at times I was tempted to put the book down so I could look up and listen to the pieces of music Grace plays.

There are some lovely characters in this book. Mr Williams and Nadia bring joy not only to Grace but also to the reader, whenever they appear.

Grace is a character that creates mixed emotions. Some of her actions, many of them central to the storyline, make her unlikable. I didn’t feel sorry for her in that her willing blindness to aspects of her life, and her wanton recklessness in others, led her down a path where she finds herself with what she believes is nothing. It is when she opens her eyes to the world around her that she finds she has many things and people, already in her life, and that the opportunities are endless. Despite this, I did like Grace, though I did find myself shaking my head at her obvious lack of insight into her relationship with David.

As for David, well I loathed him so much I wanted to beat him over the head with a baguette, except that would have been a waste of good food. He is self-centred, egotistical and all the more annoying because Grace is so blind to him.

This is a very easy to read story. The narrative draws you in and I soon found myself well ensconced in Grace’s life.

I could go into more detail about the story, about the incident that sets Grace’s life into free fall but I won’t. I don’t want to give too much away, and the joy of picking up a new book is never fully knowing what to expect.

A lovely, gently told tale about friendship, learning to love yourself, respect yourself and that what you find is the right path for you isn’t always what you thought you were looking for.

About the 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.



2 Comments Add yours

  1. This sounds fantastic Janet. I’ve noticed others tweeting about it.
    Must read x


  2. I recently treated myself to a copy of this and I’m even more keen to read it after reading your review. It sounds like a wonderful novel.


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