What a lovely surprise this book was. It appeared as a love story but gave so much more. Anstey Harris has woven a story of love and loss into a beautiful novel filled with music and the world of the cello.
Anstey Harris is a teacher of creative writing at Canterbury Christ Church University. She lives in Kent, UK and her daughter is singer/songwriter Lucy Spraggan. Harris has obviously used her husband’s expertise as a violin maker to help weave her story.
Protagonist Grace Atherton is a maker of cellos and violins. She has been in love with the same man for the past eight years and she thinks she has her life planned out. Her dreams will soon come true. One day it all comes crashing down around her and her world seemingly comes to an end. It takes the love of an old man and a surly teenager to bring her back. The story is set to a backdrop of the world of music where perfection is all-important. It is about our perceived inadequacies and how we can correct mistakes. It gives us hope that life can get better.
The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton is written in the first person. It moves seamlessly between the past and the present. We are able to understand her joys and sorrows and this book is able to move the reader to tears. It brings the world of the musician and instrument maker to life. We are able to feel the joy as an instrument is finally completed, or the moment a musician knows they have perfected a piece. The world of music is uncompromising and to get to the top of the field takes years of hard work and hours of practice. Grace has been part of that world her whole life but it hasn’t always been kind to her.
It is easy to get caught up in the world that Harris creates and through her expert descriptive passages, the reader can fully understand that which may be foreign. It is also a story of love. Deep love for another person, the love of friends and the love of what we most hold dear to us: our identity. This book takes the reader from despair to utter joy with a few surprises along the way.
This is a book that feels raw and honest and one which stayed with this reader for a long time. It offers insight into a world many of us do not know or understand. It gave so much more than it seemed at first glance and was well worth curling up in a comfy chair for the day.
Reviewed by Sue Mauger
Rating out of 10: 7
Distributed by: Simon & Schuster Australia
Released: January 2019