Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Review: Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie

One day just out of the blue, this book showed up in the mail unsolicited. Having other books already scheduled for review or for a tour, I just plopped it on the "when I get to it" pile. Saturday night I finished The Walking People by Mary Beth Keane ( to be reviewed later) and instead of doing what I should, starting the next book in line, I picked up Tender Graces. What a wonderful book this turned out to be! I loved it. A big thank you to Deb Smith at Bell Bridge Books. Here's a little synopsis from the front:

"The death of her troubled mother and memories of her abused grandmother lure a young woman back to the Appalachian hollow where she was born. Virginia Kate Carey, the daughter of a beautiful mountain wild-child and a slick, Shakespeare-quoting salesman, relives her turbulent childhood and the pain of her mother's betrayals. Haunted by ghosts and buried family secrets, Virginia Kate struggles to reconcile three generations of her family's lost innocence. "

The story is told from Virginia Kate's perspective primarily from childhood. What I liked about the book (beside the beautiful writing) the most are the characters, not just one or two, but all of them. I didn't necessarily like all of them personally but the way they were written it was just so easy to picture them. There is quite a cast of characters, too. It was so easy to feel their pain, sense of hopelessness, self doubt, happiness and a host of other emotions. The plot line is also excellent as are the descriptions. Ms. Magendie certainly knows how to make her readers empathize with the characters.

Virginia Kate eventually comes to terms with the past and learns which memories to cling to and which to let go of. It is her journey from childhood to adulthood that is so fascinating; sometimes heartwrenching and sometimes with a little bit of joy. After the death of her mother, Virginia Kate decides, "I'll take my vial of Momma's ashes with me to my mountain and leave her there. I'll wear red lipstick and my hair will blow around like a living thing. I'll say, "Feel that wind, Momma!" And she'll say, "Wheeeeee!" And off we'll go. When I get there, I'll smell the earth, and feel the tickle of leaves under my bare feet and against my face. The wind won't let the tears gather at all. And I'll let Momma dance in the wind as I pour her out. Feeling the release, I let go."

Can't you just picture that so easily in your mind? It's hard to imagine this is a debut novel. I had a very difficult time putting this book down. For anyone who appreciates contemporary fiction, southern literature or family relationship stories, this book is one to read. I think this would also be a perfect selection for book clubs as there are many issues that can be discussed. Highly recommended. 4.5****

About the author: Kathryn Magendie has published short stories and poetry in literary magazines all over the South. She is co-managing Editor of The Rose and Thorn Literary Ezine. Kathryn lives in North Carolina. Kathryn's website can be found at http://www.kathrynmagendie.com/.
About the book: Paperback: 316 pages
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books (April 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0982175620
ISBN-13: 978-0982175620


  1. What a wonderful surprise for you. It sounds fantastic.

  2. Now that's the best kind to get, isn't it? Out of the blue and a great read?! No strings?! Good for you! I shall have to keep it in mind after reading your wonderful review!

  3. I rec'd a book from Deb Smith and BelleBooks awhile back without expecting it. I haven't read it yet, but I think I should soon. The book is called Egret Cove. I'm glad you liked this one.

  4. Nice it was a surprise and that it turned out to be a winner too.

    Anxious to hear what you thought of The Walking People also, especially since I did not score a copy...lol

  5. it's always nice to get an unsolicitied book that turns out to be a keeper! glad you liked this one--i hadn't heard of it until i popped over...

  6. Interesting! I'm glad this was a surprise that turned out to be GOOD! :) It's been a while since I've stopped by your blog, and I like surf-boy Mr. Pudgy! ;)

    Hope things are well!

  7. Kaye ... what a lovely surprise in my "google alerts" this morning...so, I come here and see this review and my heart does that "skippity thing" ...this is a lovely review. Thank you so very much. And, you quoted one of my favorite parts of TG.

    Thank you...I appreciate you and the time you took to not only read my book, but to write up this beautiful review.

  8. Another glowing review for this book (I just read Anna's) — that'll do it, on my list it goes.

    That's two I've added reading you this week, Kaye! :)

  9. What a wonderful story and your review did it justice. I also love books filled with characters that you are allowed to know so well. I don't mind crying with a good book or sharing other emotions. For me it's a sign the author got through to me. This one is definitely one for the list.

  10. That's perfect, an unexpected book and a good one! I've seen a few reviews of this one and I'd love to read it.

  11. Sounds like you loved this one as much as I did. :)

    Diary of an Eccentric


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