Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Patricia Gaffney - The Saving Graces: A Novel

27. The Saving Graces: A Novel by Patricia Gaffney (1999)
Length: 394 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 13 May 2016
Finished: 18 May 2016
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 5 November 2000
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

For the past decade, four friends - Emma, Rudy, Lee, and Isabel - have shared an abidingly deep affection for each other that has kept them strong. Their friendship has helped them all deal with the ebb and flow of various expectations and disappointments commonly experienced by so many women. Calling themselves the 'Saving Graces', this quartet is united by understanding, honesty, and acceptance - interweaving bonds of familiarity that have only strengthened as the years go by...

Emma, a sharp-tongued, soft-hearted skeptic, doesn't believe in love - until she meets the one man she can never have. For her, the Saving Graces have become the fall-breakers extraordinaire. She firmly believes that, "bad news doesn't hurt as much if you hear it in good company."

A stunning beauty with an extraordinary capacity for love and a shaky, dysfunctional past, Rudy is desperately trying to hold on to her deeply troubled marriage. She has always viewed her friendship with the Saving Graces as truly life-affirming. She honestly has no idea where she would be without them all, although she freely acknowledges, "I don't know why my friends bother with me, I'm so high-maintenance. I would run if I saw me coming."

Lee, whom everyone else is certain is "the normal one", longs to have a child of her own. Yet her overwhelming desire for motherhood threatens to destroy an otherwise idyllic marriage. The Saving Graces are the sounding board on which she unburdens all her hopes and fears. She fears that her inability to have children will eventually become an obsession for her, "I know I'm consumed by our infertility, and that's not fair to Henry...He says I blame everything that's wrong with us, everything that's wrong with my whole life, on the fact that we can't have children."

Isabel, as the oldest member of the quartet, is a true survivor. Someone whose wisdom and strength were forged by her experiences of some of the worst trials life can possibly offer. Hers is the guidance and practical insight that propels and grounds the Saving Graces. Hers is the quiet, yet equally sustaining 'voice of reason' to which everyone listens.

Her view of the Saving Graces is profoundly simple: "We're all productive, tolerably sane, functioning adults, we Graces, with no more emotional baggage - well, except for Rudy - than you would expect in a random sampling of aging yuppie women. And yet our childhoods were disasters. Occasionally, we four play the intriguing 'What keeps us together?' game, and the fact that we all survived our childhoods is mentioned early and often."

Although these four sisters of the heart and soul have seen it all, as well as talked through it all; nothing can possibly prepare them for what comes next. Emma, Rudy, Lee, and Isabel will each face a crisis of such astounding proportions that the strength of the bonds of love, loyalty, courage, and friendship that these remarkable women share, will ultimately be tested like never before. Captivating from first page to last, this mesmerizing story illuminates the emotional links that define and join us together as women.

The Saving Graces: A Novel by Patricia Gaffney poignantly illustrates just how friendship sustains and enriches women's lives in unique ways - ways no romantic or family relationship ever can. Seen by many as a source of solace, support, and spiritual nourishment, friendship is a tie that powerfully connects women to each other in unforgettable, joyous, sometimes painful ways. While men, jobs, and crises may come and go, nothing lasts like true friendship.

This is actually the second time that I have read this book - the first time that I read it was approximately ten to fifteen years ago. I must say that I enjoyed it just as much the second time as I did when I first read the book. I have always found Ms. Gaffney's writing style to be highly evocative and tremendously sensitive to her audience. Her characterizations are always deeply grounded in reality; they are sympathetic, yet also very relatable in their respective reactions to certain situations.

I was completely immersed in the story in a relatively short period of time, and quite willingly lost myself in the story of these four remarkable women. I found the book hard to put down and was rooting for the Graces all the way through.  I would certainly give this book an A+! and will happily keep it to read again some time soon.

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

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