Monday, 28 January 2019

Review: The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

Image result for the truths and triumphs of grace atherton
Cover photo provided by Simon and Schuster

Title: The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton
Author: Anstey Harris
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 10th January 2019
Genre: Adult Fiction
Page Count: 368 
Original Language: English
Format Read: Paperback
Other books in series: N/A
Movie Adaptation: N/A 

I borrowed an early-release copy of The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton from my place of work, and I am so glad I got to read it before it was officially released out into the world. I picked it up because it was recommended for people who enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and I have to say that for once, the comparison was helpful.

Grace Atherton has an exciting life. She is involved in an eight year affair with David, a married man, and they are deeply in love. They spend weekends in a beautiful apartment in Paris, and then go their separate ways, and Grace goes back to her life as the owner of a music shop. 

Everything is perfect, until David saves a woman from falling to her death on the train tracks, and the whole world wants to know the identity of the Metro Hero. When they finally identify him, his wife and children find out about the affair, and Grace's life comes crashing down.

This book was exactly the kind I needed to kick-start my 2019. You go into the story believing that Grace's life is consumed by her relationship with David and that is all the novel will focus on, but what you actually find is a beautiful story about friendship and finding those people who will go the extra mile to help you achieve your goals. 

Grace is a cello player and a music school drop-out, and the secret behind why she was forced to leave is slowly revealed to us. It is shocking, but allows us to understand the character of Grace and her motivations for the decisions she makes. I'm so glad that romance fell off her list of priorities, because this book deserves to be more than a broken woman stuck in an affair with a married man.

The plot was character driven (my favourite kind of plot!) and there were brilliant contrasts between the three friends. There is Grace, a heart-broken woman in her 30's who didn't know where her life is heading, her school-girl employee Nadia, and old regular customer Mr Williams. The difference in age and circumstance brought different perspectives to the story - especially with Nadia being a teenage soon-to-be mum and Mr Williams an older gay man. These are perspectives you rarely see in books or television, and I really appreciated the range of characters that Anstey Harris brought to us.

Overall, this book was beautifully written, with almost a musical flare in descriptions of the key settings such as Paris and Italy, to the point where I could taste the bread and cheeses. It is a surprising book that points out the flaws in human beings, but also shows how beautifully in-tune we can be with one another.

About the Author

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 HarrisAnstey 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).