Grace Notes, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Returning to Belfast after a long absense, to attend her father's funeral.

Catherine McKenna - a young composer - remembers exactly why she left: the claustrophobic intimacies of the Catholic enclave, her fastidious, nagging mother, and the pervading tensions of a city at war with itself.

She remembers a more innocent time, when the Loyalists Lambeg drums sounded mysterious and exciting; she remembers her shattered relationship with the drunken, violent Dave, she remembers the child she had with him, waiting back in Glasgow.

This is a novel, about coming to terms with the past and the healing power of music, "Grace Notes" is a master story-teller's triumphant return to the long form: a powerful lyrical novel of great distinction.


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'Grace Notes' is a story composed of two movements, though the second movement occurs, temporally, before the first. This seems like a strange choice, and makes the second half of the book seem somehow too expository, as if it only exists to make up for the gaps in the reader's knowledge from the first.However, it all works, just about, thanks mostly to MacLaverty's impeccable research and insights into the mind of a troubled creative woman. The story is old and not hugely fascinating, but the writing is strong and carries the reader to the conclusion in a state of grace, so to speak.

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