BOOK CLUB: The Graces

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The Graces by Irish author Siobhan MacGowan is a wonderful haunting historical fiction that’ll sweep one’s imagination away to another world.

The setting is Dublin Ireland, 1918.  Rosaleen Moore is a seer and a healer. Growing up in rural County Clare, she discovers she has been blessed by the Graces like her grandmother with sight.

The villagers see this as a curse, and when she finds herself in trouble Rosaleen is sent away to live with an aunt and uncle in Dublin. 

Working in their home doing chores she is introduced to a group of spiritualists called Mesmerists.  They soon realise that Rosaleen has not just the gift of sight, but also of healing. They encourage her to use her special talents to help others. Known as The Rose, she is sought-after all over Dublin. 

The Rose was loved and praised by so many in her lifetime. On her deathbed, she makes a confession to Father Sheridan and her secrets are revealed. How will this change the journey and thoughts of many people’s lives?

Author Siobhan McGowan has some unforgettable characters in this story. She has a clear skill of taking you into the world of each one with their individual personalities. All are believable and introduced gradually so you get to know them as you are part of the cast. There will be those you love and those you detest; all have an important part to play in the narrative. 

Rosaleen is an incredible character, a young woman who is so innocent with unspeakable gifts.  It was nice to observe her self-discovery and growth as she gathered more information about her abilities.

When she becomes known as The Rose and admired all over Dublin, there are also plenty of people who doubt her and are willing and able to throw obstacles in her way. I so desperately wanted to protect her. 

I enjoyed the backdrop of the political side of this story — the fight between the Catholics and Protestants and the move towards the Republic of Ireland and its independence. This being set in Dublin (one of my favourite places) was very touching. 

From the first chapter, The Graces gripped my imagination and attention. The main plot is filled with tension and suspense and there are many interesting subplots that support and add depth to the storyline. The descriptions were inspiring and vivid. I was blown away by the intense imagery and the emotions they evoked.

I love the style of writing that flows with the smoothness of silk while maintaining an aura of realism all through it. The worlds of prophecy, mysticism, superstition, and religion collide in this thrilling piece of work. McGowan remains a master of mood and place consistently from start to finish. 

This book exceeded my expectations and is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable and fascinating books I have read this year.  

I highly recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction.  

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading The Graces by Siobhan MacGowan. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

9 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Graces

  1. I found The Graces by Siobhan MacGowan to be a fascinating and compelling read, with romance,tragedy,mystery and history. The Title and the wonderful book cover grabs you from the start.

    Set in Dublin in 1918, Rosaleen Moore, later known as The Rose, is a seer and a healer. The gift she has can be a blessing and a curse for her.

    The story is narrated by Rosaleen, on her death bed, to a priest.
    A tragedy had occurred, Rosaleen and many of her friends felt responsible. However, an Abbott confessed to the crime and is in prison.

    The story cleverly portrays Ireland’s unrest and troubled times.

    Rosaleen becomes friends with a group who are mesmerists, followers of Dr Franz Mesmer who claims a natural force can heal. I found it interesting, as I hadn’t considered it before, that many people were wary and suspicious of science developing drugs to combat the diseases of the time and preferred a healer.

    It is a great read with a diverse range of characters, all important to the story.
    Thoroughly recommend The Graces.

  2. The Graces by Siobhan MacGowan (Welbeck Publishing) tells the story of Rosaleen Moore, a young, naive girl from County Clare who, shunned and feared for her prophetic utterings, is sent to live with her more free-thinking Aunt in Dublin.

    Rosaleen enjoys more freedom in the big city and encouraged by new Mesmerist friends, embraces her gifts as a seer. Soon her reputation and her confidence grow, and as ‘the rose’ she becomes revered across Dublin, for her gifts of prophecy and healing. However her gifts come at a cost, and on her deathbed Rosaleen reveals dark secrets …

    Simmering away in the background to Rosaleen’s story, The Graces highlights the political and social turmoil that existed in early 20th-century Ireland at this time – clashes between the old ways and new, religion and superstition, and between faith and science and medicine.

    A brooding, dark and somewhat slow paced novel, The Graces is an evocative and engaging read.

  3. This was an easy to read book, the story was sad, captivating, historic and haunting.

    It is sad because the person is on their deathbed and recalling past events, but everything is easy to understand and follow along.
    The book switched in the middle from first person and then also was written in third person. I think this was to explain the other person’s views and thoughts.

    It is a sad storyline, but the characters are vivid and impressive.
    There is also a lot of Irish political and historical storyline involved within this main story, which the book goes into extensive details about.

    Although I don’t like to read sad and tragic stories, the way this was written and the way it kept me paying attention and wanting to know more was good.

    I would recommend this book if you want something different with a mystery and some romance thrown in. The storyline itself about a healer was interesting and to read from their perspective.

  4. Thank you Beauty and Lace for giving me the chance to read this fantastic book about love, romance, history and tragedy. It was such an interesting read and I really enjoyed it.

  5. The Graces by Siobhan MacGowan, set in 1918 Dublin, is a captivating story following Rosaleen Moore, also known as The Rose. Gifted with the ability to foresee and heal, Rosaleen’s life is a blend of romance, tragedy, mystery, and history. Narrated by Rosaleen on her deathbed confiding in a priest, the story unravels a haunting past. It also explores the societal conflicts of Ireland during that time, touching on the tension between tradition and progress, faith and science. The book boasts a rich ensemble of characters, making it a compelling and thought-provoking read.

  6. The Graces by Sibohan Macgowen
    A brilliant book set in the 1918 in Dublin.
    The story follows the main character Rosaleen More or Rose for short who is telling the story whilst on her death bed she has a gift of foreseeing death .just like her grandmother .
    Everyone things she is crazy or evil when she try’s to warn Nora a friend who falls pregnant and goes to a Maggie Devlin to drink a potion to get rid of the pregnancy ,Rosealeen keeps having nightmares and knew Nora would meet her fate ,which unfortunately she dies .
    I beautiful written story of very different times .
    Chapter by chapter the book gets better and better .
    Thankyou Beauty and lace for giving me the chance to read this very powerful story.

  7. The Graces by Siobhan MacGowan is a captivating work of historical fiction.

    Rosaleen Moore, known as The Rose, possesses a remarkable gift for healing and prophecy, a talent that draws both admirers as well as being labelled as work of the devil by others. Set in 1918 in Dublin, when tragedy strikes at a bell tower at a monastery and a confession is made by the Abbot, he is imprisoned. However, it is only on Rosaleen’s deathbed that a revelation emerges, casting doubt on the Abbot’s guilt.

    The Graces is beautifully written, and I found myself deeply smitten with the main character, Rosaleen. Her youth and naivety added a unique dimension to her character and her unwavering empathy and compassion for others shined brilliantly throughout the story.

    As the story unfolded, it became increasingly more challenging to set the book aside, making for an engrossing and unforgettable reading experience.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review this compelling book.

  8. A new time for medicine and medical advances, with many skeptical people in the mix, complicated further by a time of national identity issues for Ireland, under the rule of England.
    Rosaleen was born a ways from Dublin, into a close family. She inherited sights that her Grandmother before her had possessed, but in one so very young how to use this sight was not something Rosaleen knew. She tried to help, tried to guide another but her efforts did not have the result she hoped, a death and with that shame and embarrassment to her family. A shadow under which others would see her. To help her, her mother sent her to Dublin to her Aunt, to work in their boarding house and live a life where people were unaware of her gift.
    Through a boarder, Lorcan, Rosaleen found herself in a group of mesmerists, faith healers, channeling their inner spring through the winds and the earth to heal those in need, outside the realms of science and medicine. She did well in this group, became confident and using those gifts given to her she became arrogant. So quick the high and mighty may fall when tragedy strikes, touching so many, causing loss of life, of livelihood of friendship.
    This is a very emotive story, drawing you along as Rosaleen tells her story by way of a confession to a priest.
    Descriptive and well written this story was a pleasure to read, transporting me from my reality into this time of old, where so much was only just being learned. Thank you to Siobhan MacGowan and Beauty & Lace for the opportunity to travel in time.

  9. The Graces is superbly written and weaves an interesting story that kept me captivated until the truth was revealed. I couldn’t put this one down!

    I enjoyed the style and how the characters show all their flaws, as well as the different points of view. The writer didn’t over expand , kept to the story line and only revealed what was needed to keep the reader wondering.
    I look forward to reading more from Siobhan Macgowan.

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