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4.5 out of 5 stars
24
Grace Notes
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on 17 September 2017
Slow moving but beautifully written and heart rending too
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on 20 September 2017
I really enjoyed this sensitively written tale which captured the prejudices of Irish Catholicism in an age which should have moved on. The lack of appreciation of the heroine's musical genius made it a sad but very moving tale.
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on 17 October 2017
Great book and service
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on 17 November 2017
A very relaxing read. Storytelling at its best.
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on 20 February 2017
Really enjoyed the descriptions of the way ideas for pieces of music occurred to the heroine.
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on 8 April 2014
Catherine has to battle her feelings of guilt for refusing to conform to her parent's religious beliefs and expectations of her as a daughter.
She has to battle a violent drunken partner and post natal depression.
All this as she wrestles with self doubt about her vocation as a composer and the plunge into poverty it necessitates.

Gripping and real, painful and funny I can't recommend it highly enough- I just finished it for the second time and none of its power was lost on re-reading it.
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on 7 June 2007
It's hard to do this exquisite novel justice without giving too much away..

Catherine is a young composer, coming from the background of "The Troubles" in northern Ireland, and a family of an overbearing unempathetic mother and recently died father, whose funeral the novel opens with

She has recently given birth and is suffering from severe postnatal depression.

Before I read this novel, I was fairly sceptical as I thought "what can a man know about post natal depression?" Having read this novel, I can only assume that McLaverty's wife maybe suffered, or he suffered from depression himself.

I have experienced depression myself, and I have never read such an exquisitely crafted, beautiful, moving and ultimately inspirational fictitious account of depression.

This novel contains some amazing passages, including one of my favourite passages ever:

"She got in the lift to go up, and looked at the people in there. Any one of them could have a story to tell as bad as her own. With a weight like that, the lift should be going down"

I think there is a comparison between depressed thoughts and "Grace Notes" Grace notes being the notes between notes, that take the piece of music to another place and make a world of difference.. and depressed thoughts maybe being "The thoughts between thoughts" that take your mind and heart to another place?

I would recommend this to anyone, and especially to someone who is or has suffered from depression. It is comfort to know that you are not the only person to have felt that way, and that wherever there is life there is hope.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 October 2003
This multileveled novel tells of a young woman who escapes her Irish family, studies music with world class artists and composers, carves out a personal and professional life in a world dominated by men, and then returns briefly for the funeral of her estranged father and reconciliation with her mother. But it is also a search for grace in its various definitions.
As a composer, Catherine looks for the "notes between the notes...graces, grace notes." A Catholic who no longer believes, she sees "music as the grace of God...a way of praying." Appalled by the cruelty and intolerance which "religious" men have shown each other throughout history, she believes that "her act of creation [not religious dogma]...define[s] her as an individual...and define[s] all individuals as important."
She embarks on a series of religious compositions at the same time that she rejects the church and its teachings about marriage and family. Choosing not to marry the father of her child, she nevertheless recognizes her daughter as a miracle, a profound mystery which "there was no form of music to celebrate or mark..." Filled with symbols of Fatherhood, baptism, ascension, rebirth, and ultimate triumph, MacLaverty's Grace Notes is a compelling and sensitive exploration of a young woman's attempt to reconcile her humanity with the universal mysteries of creation. Mary Whipple
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on 3 September 2017
A beautifully written book about the struggles of a young mother and composer. I really enjoyed his analysis of music.
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on 14 May 2010
I really enjoyed this novel. The author writes movingly about the unspoken relationship between the female protagonist and her strict, religious parents, her largely absent boyfriend, her baby daughter and her music. Bernard MacLaverty establishes a tone of isolation - both environmental and emotional - that permeates the story and his characters. It's not a plot-driven narrative but a multi-layered exploration of the consoling power of creativity.
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