DAYS OF GRACE
by Catherine Hall
$25.95 pages, 304 pages
ISBN 13 :978-0-670-021765
Synopsis from the Book Jacket:
Be careful what you say, like everyone else, you will hear things that the enemy mustn’t know. Keep that knowledge to yourself-and don’t give away any clues keep smiling.
On the cusp of World War !!, this warning resonates with Britain’s fearful population. But to Nora Lynch, these words carry another layer of meaning, one more intimate and shameful. And for more than fifty years, she will keep her lips tightly sealed.
When the war breaks out, twelve-year-old Nora is one of thousands of London children evacuated to the safety of the English countryside. Her surrogate family, Reverend Rivers, his wife, and their daughter, Grace, offer Nora affection and a wealth of comforts previously unknown to her. But what Nora is too young and too naive to understand is that the place she’s been sent to isn’t the Eden she originally believes it to be.
As the dogfights rage ever more fiercely overhead, Nora’s friendship with Grace intensifies, but Nora aches to become even closer. What happens next is a secret that she hill harbor for decades, a secret that Nora begins to reveal only when, elderly and ill, she can no longer bear its haunting corrosive power.
The story is told with alternating chapters of Nora speaking: the elder Nora, and Nora in the present. I realized pretty early on that the elder Nora is angry and reflects upon her life. She is a cranky, bitter old woman who stares out the window at her young neighbor across the street, a pregnant young girl. The young Nora is jaded by the wonderful life she now has in the country. She adores Grace and they become fast friends. In fact Nora falls in love with Grace. On the outside, Grace seems to have it all, loving parents and a good home in the country. Nora feels she was sent away and struggles with her feelings about her mother. When given the opportunity to return to London to be with her mother she makes a difficult decision that weighs on her.
The early part of the book reads a bit slowly, hang in there, I promise when Nora and Grace make adventurous plans you will be anxious for the details that follow. There are many secrets in Days of Grace that propels the reader ahead. Many years later, Nora old, frail and on the verge of crossing over, reflects on a secret so dark it has shadowed her life with grayness.
Catherine Hall’s debut novel is a haunting story of friendship and love and the secrets of life that determine our destiny if we allow it.
Disclosure: This was a free copy sent to me by the publisher.
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