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A Peculiar Grace Hardcover – 10 Aug 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 395 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (10 Aug. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871139650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871139658
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 16.2 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,134,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A visceral book . . . Rugged, carefully plotted, and thoughtfully constructed, offering a glimpse of a place and time most contemporary novelists simply can't take us to. . . . A powerful and potentially timeless book." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
When the vehicle passed through his yard in the middle of the night and continued up the hill and into the woods along the rutted ancient road Hewitt Pearce barely registered it. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Mrs Pooladam on 19 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I do like Lent and anticipate his books, Lost Nation is still my favourite, but this shorter novel still had all the warmth, pathos and character detailing that I love.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on 22 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have greatly enjoyed Mr. Lent's work. His first novel, "In The Fall", can easily be placed along side many authors whose work would be classified as required reading, standards or classics in their chosen genres. "Lost Nation", too is a very fine work which like his first stands above his most recent offering.

His writing is as good in this book as in the previous publications; there can be in my opinion no serious debate as to the skills of this author. The primary reason I liked this work less is a personal quirk of mine that means I generally like contemporary works less than those that take place a bit further back in History. I did not find this book as engaging as his previous work, to me there was less scope to these characters and their lives than his previous books, the story also seemed to unfold with more expected events as opposed to truly reading the next page and chapters wondering where he was going to take you.

I wrote in much more detail about his previous 2 books so I will not repeat myself here.

I will say again that he is one of the finer writers producing works today and the number that titles this review is a measure of my frustration. The number represents where this book stands in sales as I write this, and I find it a sad commentary on how much, forgive me, garbage sells, while beautiful writing sits on shelves.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 28 reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Not as good as I hoped it would be... 24 Aug. 2007
By Thirtysomething Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Jeffrey Lent is a great author, and his first two novels were supernaturally good, but 'A Peculiar Grace' disappointed me. I was glad I forced myself to wait and get it from the library rather than buying it, because I won't want to read it again anytime soon.

What was wrong with it... the main character, Hewitt, seemed like a modern-day reincarnation of the man 'Blood' from 'Lost Nation.' An older guy, tough, but seriously flawed, all torn up by the loss of his first love. Then, the woman who comes into his orbit (Jessica Kress) has far too much in common with the young woman Blood had dragged with him. So we basically get to watch the older guy go through his rehabilitation thanks to the influence of the sexually edgy young woman, in both novels.

Also, I thought that some of the dialog between Hewitt and Jessica, in the early stages of their relationship, was so overheated that it verged on corny.

All that is not to say the novel isn't any good, though. The bar was set pretty high by the author's previous novels. 'A Peculiar Grace' is still better than many things out there, but you'll probably enjoy it more if you haven't read 'Lost Nation' yet.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A painfully elegant story about love, art and second chances 16 Oct. 2007
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Forty-three-year-old Hewitt Pearce is a blacksmith content with living alone in his family home in rural Vermont, where he watches over his late father's artwork and pounds hot iron to create custom ironwork for clients of his choosing. Except for occasional visits with neighbors and a few friends, he minds his own business and expects others to do the same.

Then, one morning in early June, when "the sun was up over the eastern ridge and striking the top of the western ridge, the young leaves of the treeline illuminated more golden than green, glowing," Hewitt decides to check out a vehicle that had passed through his yard in the middle of the night.

After driving his old red Farmall tractor into the woods, he discovers a Volkswagen Beetle with a Mississippi license plate. The crudely handpainted Beetle is sitting in the middle of the road and is packed full of clothes and belongings. Nearby, a young woman with black hair, badly cropped, sits perched on a rock in front of a small fire. Jessica is out of gas, out of money and on her way to Texas. Her pretty voice is "deep but dragging sweet over the syllables as if words others took for granted were savored and valued throughout their possible peaks and valleys."

Jessica is a confused, fragile waif, yet she knows how to handle a car being towed. After Hewitt removes the Beetle from the woods, he feels a strange connection with her and convinces her to stay with him until she is able to move on. At first, her untamed ways and unsettling presence upset the gentle balance of his artistic and hermetic way of life. But he slowly becomes accustomed to having her around and discovers how much his solitary existence has prevented him from enjoying everyday companionship.

Hewitt's life becomes even more unsettled after he learns that Emily, his first love and the woman with whom he once lived in a commune, is now a widow. He tries to reconnect with Emily to ask her forgiveness for a long-ago transgression and is surprised when he discovers that Emily's life isn't what it appears to be. He is torn between pursuing the love he lost and always hoped to regain and his growing attachment to the unpredictable and mysterious Jessica.

As he gradually uncovers the reason for Jessica's secrecy and state of mind, Hewitt feels an even stronger connection to her but is shocked when he learns from her a secret related to a tragic loss suffered by his father decades earlier.

Hewitt and Jessica are intriguing and complex protagonists, but secondary characters also shine: Walter, the disabled Vietnam veteran and loyal friend; Mary Margaret, Hewitt's strong-willed, Irish-immigrant mother; and Thomas, Hewitt's long-deceased father whose influence, along with his art, is not far from reach.

Like Hewitt, the blacksmith who pounds hot iron to shape intricate works of art from his unique vision, author Jeffrey Lent uses his distinctive writer's voice to craft a painfully elegant story about love, art and second chances that is a joy to behold and one that is not easily forgotten.

--- Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt (dvolkenannt@charter.net)
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Beautifully written 11 Aug. 2007
By P. Bott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The writing is poetic and the story enthralling. I just finished reading this novel which I must say was impossible to put down - and I've done just that with quite a few of late. The narrative of this story draws you in and you just want to linger there a while. Read along and then hitting a sentence that, perhaps because of it's simplicity, hits with a force that causes you to pause and think.
There are novels read for the excitement of the story line, or suspense of the mystery, but here it was that and so much more in the prose that was a pure enjoyment unto itself. If I were to compare it to another novel "Gilead" comes to mind. Stories that are a pure pleasure to read and you wish didn't have to end.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Not the usual Lent 13 Nov. 2007
By Get Out in the Sun - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Jeffrey Lent's previous novels deal savagely with the past. This one takes a turn in the present with less of a punch that I have come to expect from Lent. A romance between teens turns sour, causing the hero of the book to turn melancholy and pitiful. Somehow unable to break away from an idealized version of his past love, he suffers from family desertion, isolation, and apparently, alcohol dependency. Faced with this girl-turned-woman many years down the road, he realizes (finally) that she isn't the one for him after all. The young girl who appears unbidden at his secluded farm has more of a past than he can initial deal with, but even she doesn't bring any of the cutting edge action that I was hoping for. I can only hope Lent returns to his fine, if somewhat bloody, historical fiction in his next endeavor.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Life gets complicated 29 Aug. 2007
By J. Grattan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In forty-three year old Hewitt Pearce, you've got your basic reclusive, independent blacksmith/artist living mostly alone on a mountain top in Vermont who has had a somewhat troubled life, first because of his eccentric, artist father and secondly because of longing for over twenty years for a girl, Emily, who abruptly ended their relationship.

Seemingly out of the blue, he discovers twenty-something Jessica Kress camping in his woods with her psychedelically-painted VW, who has seen her fair share of trouble in her wanderings from her home in Mississippi. While Hewitt is trying to figure how to relate to Jessica, he learns that Emily's husband has died in an accident, which sets him off in an effort to recapture the past.

The book alternates between looking at Hewitt's past and his current predicament. Hewitt's good looks and reticent, complicated personality is certainly attractive to females, yet his relationships have sputtered. Like Hewitt, the book is not without flaws. While the writing is generally quite good, the dialog can be overdone at times and the plot is not altogether satisfying. It is simply interesting to see how Hewitt, Emily, and Jessica resolve their lives, that is, if they do.
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