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Grace and Mary by [Bragg, Melvyn]
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Grace and Mary Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews

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Length: 257 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

'It's funny and sad and touching. With regular echoes of Thomas Hardy, this quiet, unshowy, book proves that novels can tell truths that are deeper and truer than the mere fact of memoir.' (Alex Preston Observer)

'The pleasures of this elegant novel are many. Bragg's detailed evocation of the Wigton of his youth, the people that lived there, the beauty of the Cumbrian scenery, the lively sense of the region's long and varied history, is delightful. It's a novel that deserves to be read slowly, the details cherished. The Hardy echo sounds throbbingly but Grace is not, like Hardy's Tess, reduced to being a plaything of "the President of the Immortals". It's a novel suffused with the idea and reality of the love between parent and child, beautifully realised without a trace of false sentiment.' (Allan Massie The Scotsman)

A novel which beautifully conveys how the past is a continuum that constantly feeds our consciousness of the present, altering its current and direction. It is starkly truthful about the perils of ageing. But it is also a convincing testimony to familial love, and its power to prompt the imagination in the service of a more generous understanding....It is a gem. (Salley Vickers Independent)

Book Description

By 'quite simply one of the best writers we have' (Sunday Telegraph), a profoundly moving story spanning three generations.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 742 KB
  • Print Length: 257 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1444762346
  • Publisher: Sceptre (9 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AJP25TA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #21,435 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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By Mr. D. L. Rees TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 31 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In the nursing home a life is ebbing away, ninety-two year old Mary so often confused but in lucid intervals with vivid memories of the long past. Her son John, a biographer, realizes she represents living history. With research and photographs he will try to explore that past, revelations leading to greater understanding and respect.

In some ways this is a social documentary, an entire century covered in the tale of three mothers: Ruth who died giving birth to Grace, she whose ironic fall from grace meant Mary could never really be brought up as her daughter. All the while here is a study of changing times and attitudes. Some find it impossible to adapt, as with honest farmer Wilson, unable to forgive the transgression of one he held most dear. One warms to preacher Walker - mild when out and about but fiery in the pulpit, there jabbing at the consciences of those eager to condemn.

Throughout vividly recreated are times of happiness, passion, crushed hopes, sudden end of innocence, determination to face up to formidable challenges.

Much uplifts - as with that portrayal of a close knit community where people rallied round (the village of Wigton completely closing down for a funeral), an era when singing seemed a way of life. (In one glorious sequence old Mary breaks into song. Gradually the entire nursing home's patients and staff join in - depression dispelled, all uplifted.)

John is deeply moved by what he discovers. Many readers will be too, especially those with loved ones who are no longer aware. This represents a growing problem. People are living far longer than ever before, for many the mind seemingly intent on preceding the body's departure from the world. How best to preserve the quality of life? Can much be learned from John's attempts?

Many thoughts are provoked by a novel so tender and true. Welcome here an evocative, involving read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read most of Melvyn Bragg books and thoroughly enjoyed them all but I am struggling a bit with this one. I thought it was expensive for a kindle book but then I thought I must have it! Without going into detail (that's not me) I am only about a quarter way through and maybe it'll get better. For me there has been too much abstract thought, but again that's maybe just setting the context---which I admit is an usual one, ie a son meeting with his mother who is suffering from alzheimers and trying to help her end her life with some happy memories. A difficult subject and one I have personal experience of although I never managed to achieve any happiness for him (my dad). I will re-review this book in time-I'm a slow reader-(bedtime only) and hope I begin to enjoy it more.
I've finished the book...and I cried. Such a sensitive story so lovingly written by someone who clearly has been there ...or understands the subject so well. It was heartbreakingly accurate. My Dad and Mother-in-law had similar ends to Mary. I just wish I had been able to read this book beforehand to see if I could have made thing easier for them. How could I have doubted you Melvyn Bragg!?
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By D. Elliott TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For a comparatively short book of less than 250 pages `Grace and Mary' tells a powerful and poignant family story spanning more than 3 generations, with main protagonists as grandmother Grace and her daughter Mary with Mary's son John. The setting is West Cumberland from before The Great War up to the present and this allows for rich social commentary on shifting values with erosion of convention and tradition, particularly with regard to intolerance, religion and concepts of sin.

John has turned 70 years old with a normal family background that is never investigated, and an illegitimate Mary is in her 90s with huge gaps in descriptions of her growing up. Attention centres on her final days in a nursing home near Silloth, and on John's regular travels from London to visit when he undertakes to prompt reactions from Mary's ailing memory. Mary wants to connect with her real mother Grace, who she hardly knew during her upbringing and later life. John explores family history and he prompts her with questions, photographs, singing childhood songs etc. to both remember and to reconstruct the past. It may be feared the subject of dementia is bleak and depressing but without sentimentality author Melvyn Bragg skilfully treats this sensitively and sympathetically.

`Grace and Mary' is not about patient suffering or inefficient and callous nursing homes, and indeed Mary's home is a caring and loving establishment. Melvyn Bragg concentrates on the decline of the mind and how old people can recall memories.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the first novel I've read by Melvyn Bragg. I was aware of his reputation as a writer but only really knew him from his television writing and appearances. I had expected to find a well written story but to be honest it was actually better than that and I found a beautifully written book with lots of wonderfully colourful characters. Interest in the story itself will depend on the reader's tastes but I found it to be very engaging and would say that it is a book to read slowly rather than race through the pages. It's often the case that we only truly value things when we lose them, and in recognising that the author has found a story which both touched and intrigued me.
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