Secret Graces
by Kathryn Magendie

Bell Bridge Books, 2010. ISBN 978-0-984-32569-6.
Reviewed by Jennifer Melville
Posted on 07/07/2010

Fiction: Mainstream

Kathryn Magendie is an amazing writer. Her imagery jumps off the page at you, and her characters are so multidimensional there isn't a stereotype you could stick to them. Her debut novel Tender Graces left me pining for more, and Secret Graces doesn't disappoint.

Here is a favorite quotation from "Secret Graces," one that sums up the tone of the entire novel:

"I had never wanted to remember things that insisted on being remembered. The things that could make me cry I had always kept pushing deep into the earth, buried there with ancient ancestors. Now, here, everything erupts, pushes up from the ground and exposes the sharp angles of white bone. The mountain, the ghosts, Momma, Grandma Faith, all, must feel it, too.

The spirits of my kin, my women-kin, and the ghosts of those who lived in this holler, those who lived in this lonely old house, look to me as if I have all the answers. As if I have the answers to all the past swirling in my brain. And maybe I do."

Secret Graces continues to follow the story of Virginia Kate readers were introduced to in Tender Graces. We follow her through her marriage and quest for children, and as she searches for her identity as an adult woman. Her past continues to haunt her and remains an integral part of her life no matter how hard she tries to shut it out.

I do have to say, though, that if I hadn't read Tender Graces, I would not have been so impressed with this book. It simply does not stand alone. It's as if Magendie wrote both books as one long novel and had to cut it in half for publication purposes. If you haven't read the first book in the series, you simply must read it before picking up Secret Graces. You must learn about the characters, their backgrounds, and their stories before finding out how the saga ends.

Definitely check out this book, but only after you've read and fallen in love with Virginia Kate in Tender Graces.

Kathryn Magendie is an acclaimed short-story author and co-managing editor of The Rose & Thorn Literary Ezine. Secret Graces book is the second book in Magendie's Virginia Kate saga. Visit her website and her blog.

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