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.
My love of books started at a very young age. My mum has always been a reader and encouraged me to read, buying me endless book from classic fairy tales advancing to the world of Enid Blyton, CS Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, Kathryn Kenny, Carolyn Keene, Francine Pascal. In my adult years the list of authors is endless and every room in my house is filled with books.
One of my favourite novels is Narnia which has always has a special place in my heart. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1978 and when I was given this book to read it let me escape to another world where I felt like I was in the book with all the characters, it wasfun and exciting to escape from reality and eased the ups and downs of the disease at such a young age.
In books nothing is impossible and there is endless potential and hundreds of places to explore or being taken to places that are only made up from the authors’ great minds, the past and future to navigate, characters lives you step into taking you on an emotional rollercoaster ride or being scared out of your wits. I can experience things that I can’t in real life because they’re not possible or real. It challenges my perspective and mindset expanding my worldview.
I find joy, comfort and peace with books, many people may not get it, but I know bookworms like me truly understand. Reading makes my heart happy.