When Grace Went Away by Meredith Appleyard is the second novel I have read by this author, I do have a few more of her novels waiting on my shelf and I do aim to get to those as soon as is possible. This was a very enjoyable read, there was so much in it to explore and uncover. A dysfunctional family and grief being two important themes running through the story. There is also romance and forgiveness, relationships, friendship, and discovering who one truly is and what they want out of life regardless of age.
I found this a hard book to put down and even took it to work with me just in case I got the opportunity to read some, which amazingly I did.
The family members in this novel are all so different and so complicated. Grace, the eldest of the four siblings was sent away to boarding school at a young age and she’s never fit into the family in quite the way she wished because of this. She has a high power job with a financial institution and is off to London to start a new position. This is the catalyst to a load of changes that are about to happen to the Fairley family members.
Grace goes to London, following a dream she thought she wanted, before she left, she met Aaron while she was back in Miners Ridge saying a last goodbye to her family, and Aaron causes her to question some of the things she believed she wanted and didn’t want out of life. I could really feel the struggles that Grace was going through, things she’d always controlled changed once she left Australia, her family seemed to be changing and making decisions without her and she meanwhile was feeling very much out of control and conflicted in the choices she’d made.
Grace’s mother, Sarah, was a complex character, she’d left her husband and children a few years after the death of her youngest son and this caused a lot of strain and severing of ties with her children and the town she had lived in for over 30 years. She has struggled to come to terms with what she has been through and when Grace leaves and her elderly mother passes away, she has to take a look at her life and at nearly 70 years of age, she is determined to make some changes. I really loved the journey that Sarah went through, the growth she found, and the relationships she formed, through taking a chance on changing her circumstances.
Sarah’s decisions also cause a domino of changes to her other two children and her ex-husband who live back in Miners Ridge, the town she left 8 years before. There is plenty of emotion, recriminations, and learning that happens for all the family members who all have some pretty big issues of their own to deal with.
There are so many dynamics in this novel and I was completely absorbed in the lives of this family. I loved all the characters, though the jury is out on Grace’s father Doug.
Thanks to Harlequin Australia for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.
Publication date 18/5/2020
Buy from HarperCollins Australia