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Katie Fforde: Restoring Grace


Crescent Blues Book ViewsArrow (Trade Paperback), ISBN 0099446634

Book: katie fforde, restoring grace
In keeping with the modern obsession with house make-overs, Katie Fforde adores rundown properties and regularly bequeaths them to her heroines. In Restoring Grace, she opens the action with unexpectedly pregnant fine art graduate Ellie Summers stumbling on a quaint 17th century cottage in leafy rural England. Ellie hopes to paint a portrait of the home for its wealthy owner. Instead she meets recently divorced Grace Soudley who subsists there in rot-infested, no-furniture poverty.

Complications abound when the quirky Ellie dumps her good-for-nothing boyfriend and becomes Grace's house-mate, friend and moral support. These include money-grabbing siblings, a rebellious teenage step-daughter called Demi, and priceless but crumbling artworks discovered in the house. Once Grace rejects the gruff but handsome property tycoon Flynn Cormack, and Ellie attempts to seduce an art conservator called Ran for a "once more before I'm a mother" fling, I knew a good-natured bout of romantic fun awaited me.

In this rollicking sit-com of a book, Fforde swaps one-liners for believable dialogue. I skipped the belly laughs, but I smiled my way through the read. I loved Ellie's over-the-top seduction attempts and Grace's gardening optimism about "what seemed to Ellie to be some dry sticks protruding from the ground."

This book improves on Fforde's earlier work in Stately Pursuits (where the heroine restored a country house owned by her great-uncle and fell in love with a property developer, do you spot a pattern here?) by packing the three interwoven stories of Ellie, Grace, and Demi with excellent observation about how the differently aged women relate to each other and to their men -- something that traditional family sagas omit. The female teenager, twenty-something, and forty-something lack blood-relationship yet they bond into an alternative family I'd prefer to my real-life hot-potch of a clan. Ellie matures, and Grace gains confidence so that reaching the inevitable happy ending, where even Grace's patronizing sister finds a softer side, satisfied the romantic reader in me.

Seeking the perfect easy reading beach book? Look no further, this one will sell faster than suntan lotion in the airport stores this summer.

Grace Tierney

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