The ladies from Prayer Tree, a previous Jones title, are back and as engaging as ever. Most every woman can find a character to relate to in these two titles, either in Rosemary, Naomi, Gayle, or Lucy who were introduced in Prayer Tree or perhaps in the elderly character of Grace Grayson who relives a tragic disappointment every year on the night of New Bethany's Splendor Belle Gala.
This year, on the night of the gala, Mrs. Grayson is seen once again in her ball gown of fifty years earlier but this may well be the last year she puts it on. The prayer circle ladies, who've grown a bit apart since the last time we joined them, have decided to take Grace on as a project of sorts hopefully to strengthen their bonds again and make Miss Grace less lonely, too. Each woman undergoes different trials and troubles through the story but each one brings the woman closer to her family, her friends, and ultimately to God.
As I've said previously, Annie Jones is one of my favorite authors and Saving Grace definitely did not disappoint. Even though it is a sort of sequel you do not have to have read Prayer Tree to understand Saving Grace and enjoy it as well.
I enjoy these types of women's fiction novels that have an ensemble cast that we get to know throughout the series. Yes, this is a series book, but I didn't know that until after I started reading. It stands alone pretty well, which is important to me because sometimes the library doesn't always have the books available in the order that I want to read them. I used to dread reading one book in a series for fear that I would never make the connections between the characters and a previous plot. After reading this, I do want to go back and read the first one, Prayer Tree.
One of the things I liked about this was the relationship between the women. I know I'm guilty of not making time for friends at this season of my life, so it's nice to read about women who can offer this kind of support to one another. The suspense of Sera's secret ritual added to the enjoyment and kept me turning the pages to see the outcome. Who doesn't love the romance and mystique of a southern ball?
If you're thinking ahead to your summer reading list, I think this would be a great addition!
Saving Grace is a sequel to The Prayer Tree, which I did not read. The book takes four women who have apparently formed a prayer circle and unlikely friendships, and are looking for a way to stay connected as their lives are slowly moving them apart. Naomi decides that the town's eccentric widower, Miss Grace, would make a perfect project to bring them back together. While she initially presents a challenge, and other obstacles threaten to derail their project, the women eventually, and predictably, break through her tough facade and strengthen their friendships, their relationships, and their faith.
It has been awhile since I have struggled this much to get through a fiction book. While the story didn't seem uninteresting on the surface, I found myself just not caring about the characters. The love story seemed contrived, and the suitor all too eager for it to work out, making me think there might be a twist to that story, but that never came. The storyline with Miss Grace was too predictable - the crotchety elderly lady who seems to not want friends, who eventually softens and enjoys the effort made for her benefit.
Maybe if I had read the first book, I might have been more invested in these women as characters, but having read it as a stand-alone work, I can only give it 2 stars.
I received this e-book for free from Multnomah Waterbrook Publishers as part of their Blogging for books program. I was not required to publish a positive review.
Press on was my first thought to later find a wholesome good read. It is always a good reminder to think behind your own back door. In this simple yet inspiring book that takes place in the south where in some places they are still holding unto some of the traditions of the past we find a young woman willing to take a second look at an eccentric old lady with the deep understanding that comes from her own inner feelings of loneliness. Bringing to the surface a sacrificial agenda that will endeavor to bring a bit of comfort to Grace while creating a more sincere relationship with that of her friends who join her in the fight to save Grace.
This book begins with a sentence so long and cheesy, I fully expected to not read, but slog through it.
Luckily, a few pages in, I began to enjoy the characters and could forgive Saving Grace its too-flowery moments. Naomi, Lucy, Gayle and Rose are a group of friends who used to be closer and are all in need of that closeness as they each experience difficult times. Grace is the town eccentric (or one of them-it does take place in the South). It's said she sits on her front porch every year wearing a corsage and an old ball gown, waiting for a lover who jilted her years (and years) before to take her to the town's annual dance. Naomi hatches a plan to bring her circle of friends back together and in the process help Grace, who seems lonely.
I'm glad I stuck with it; I enjoyed this book.
FTC disclaimer: the publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for a review. The review is my own and was not required to be positive.