Grace & Mary by

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The fictional Mary's decline and her son John's attempts to hold on to the remaining slivers of Mary's identity are conveyed here with documentary realism, recognisable to anyone who has lost a parent to the disease. Interwoven with John's visits to Mary is the story of Grace...Both strands are simply but compellingly told...
-Guardian

Synopsis

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.
 

About the Author

Melvyn Bragg's first novel, FOR WANT OF A NAIL, was published in 1965 and since then his novels have included THE HIRED MAN, for which he won the Time/Life Silver Pen Award, WITHOUT A CITY WALL, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, CREDO, THE MAID OF BUTTERMERE and THE SOLDIER'S RETURN, which was published to huge critical acclaim in 1999 and won the WHSmith Literary Award. He has also written several works of non-fiction including SPEAK FOR ENGLAND, an oral history of the twentieth century, RICH, a biography of Richard Burton, ON GIANTS' SHOULDERS, a history of science based on his BBC radio series, THE ADVENTURE OF ENGLISH, 12 BOOKS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD, IN OUR TIME and THE SOUTH BANK SHOW: FINAL CUT. He was born in 1939 and educated at Wigton's Nelson Thomlinson School and at Oxford where he read history. He is President of the National Campaign for the Arts, and in 1998 he was made a life peer. He won an Academy Fellowship at the BAFTA Television Awards in 2010.
 
Published March 1, 2014 by Charnwood. 272 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Grace & Mary
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Jane Housham on Mar 28 2014

The fictional Mary's decline and her son John's attempts to hold on to the remaining slivers of Mary's identity are conveyed here with documentary realism, recognisable to anyone who has lost a parent to the disease. Interwoven with John's visits to Mary is the story of Grace...Both strands are simply but compellingly told...

Read Full Review of Grace & Mary | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Alex Preston on May 18 2013

With regular echoes of Thomas Hardy, this quiet, unshowy, book proves that novels can tell truths that are deeper and truer than the mere fact of memoir.

Read Full Review of Grace & Mary | See more reviews from Guardian

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