Grace and Mary, Hardback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


John visits his ageing mother Mary in her nursing home by the sea, and mourns the slow fading of her mind.

Hoping to shore up her memory, he prompts her with songs, photographs and questions about the 1940s, when she was a young woman and he a child in a small Cumbrian town.

But he finds that most of all it is her own mother she longs for - Grace, the mother she barely knew.

John sets out to recreate their buried family history, delving into the secrets and silences of Mary's fractured childhood as he imagines the life of her spirited mother.

Reaching from the late 19th century to the present, this becomes a deeply moving, reflective elegy on three generations linked by a chain of love, loss, and courage.


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Mary is in a care home. She has dementia and is visited by her son John as often as he can. Mary's mother was Grace, but she wasn't brought up by her and so the mother/daughter relationship was lost to them both. John tries to help Mary remember by recalling things from her past, and singing with her. The story flips between this and Grace's own story.I found this to be a pleasant enough read, but overly descriptive. Thankfully, it was the sort of book where I didn't need to read every word to get the gist of the story otherwise I think I may have become too bogged down in it all, despite the short length. I enjoyed the reminiscences that the characters shared, and hearing about Grace's life, but it didn't have any emotion in it and was a little bit lacking for me overall.

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