The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton…
About the Book:
The most memorable moments of Grace Atherton’s life have always been remembered as though set to music. The simple melody of running her violin shop, and her love affair with David, with their wonderful interludes in Paris, which feels like there is a full-blown orchestra moving with her wherever she goes. And then, suddenly, silence.
David is revealed as not the man she thought he was. Shattered, Grace believes she will never recover.
But a vivacious old man who frequents her music shop, Mr Williams, and a peculiar teenager, Nadia, who works part-time for her, set about putting Grace back together again. Their efforts see the unlikely trio taking a spontaneous trip to Italy where Grace learns that she is not as alone in the world as she had once thought, and that no mistake is insurmountable.
‘The cello is one of the few instruments with the vocal range of a human.’
What a wonderful new release to start the year with!
‘The themes of art, of classical music, fly through my mind. Man against man. Man against nature. Man against himself. For each theme, I see a piece of my life fly away; I am flayed by the loss of my career, my children, my future.’
This novel sings with its gorgeous prose. Grace is a character I instantly warmed to. When we meet Grace she is in her late 30s, in love with a married man and living year to year on a shoestring promise that ‘their time will come when the children are grown’. She is an accomplished cellist and luthier, who owns her own shop repairing (and making) violins, violas and cellos. Grace’s extraordinary talent as a cellist was brought to a halt after only one year at the conservatory of music on account of an appalling abuse of power on the part of her quartet teacher. The impact this has on Grace’s life is profound, and more than twenty years later, she cannot play in front of anyone, only losing herself in her music when she is alone at home. I felt that Grace was leading only half a life, both professionally and personally. When her quiet existence is turned on its head, she is not at all equipped to deal with the upheaval, her reactions consequently making things worse for herself, compounding her inability to put together the broken pieces of her life. It’s sad, what happens to Grace, so much repressed pain brimming to the surface in one swift blow.
‘It dawns on me, like daybreak, that there are no winners in love affairs, however well meaning.’
This novel is built upon the foundations of music and the way this translates onto the page is sublime. I loved the imagery conjured up from the descriptions of Grace’s work as a luthier, particularly the sections pertaining to the baby cello she was creating, such a breathtakingly beautiful concept. There was so much love infused into the narrative, so much appreciation for the instruments themselves. It was almost as though each cello, each violin, and each viola was a living, breathing creation, endlessly growing and developing over time. It was just beautiful. And then there were the scenes where Grace would play her cello. It was almost as though you could hear the music lifting off the pages. The trio of Mr Williams, Nadia and Grace playing together was sublime, especially that scene in Italy when they inspired an impromptu street strings orchestra. It’s such a rare talent, to write about music in a way that lifts it from the page. Anstey Harris has this talent in spades.
‘All this wood is yet to stretch and wake. Each one of these instruments will improve over the years to come and, the thought dwarfs me, some of them will be being played hundreds of years from now. I feel part of something amazing.’
The Truths And Triumphs of Grace Atherton is a novel about losing yourself in order to find yourself. It’s about friendships in unlikely places with people who share your passions instead of your demographics. It’s about thwarted dreams and new beginnings. I really loved this novel, it’s filled with a beauty and depth that caught me completely by surprise. Highly recommended.
Thanks is extended to Simon and Schuster Australia via NetGalley for providing me with a copy of The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton for review.
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. Anstey already has a significant social media following and is also very well connected in the classical music industry.
The Truths And Triumphs of Grace Atherton
Published by Simon and Schuster Australia
Released January 2019