#bookreview – Grace After Henry by Eithne Shortall @eithneshortall @CorvusBooks #RandomThingsTours #blogtour
I’m absolutely thrilled to be reviewing this lovely, lovely book today, especially on publication day! Happy Publication Day, Eithne!
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the place on the tour and to Corvus for sending me a review copy of the book.
Grace sees her boyfriend Henry everywhere. In the supermarket, on the street, at the graveyard.
Only Henry is dead. He died two months earlier, leaving a huge hole in Grace’s life and in her heart. But then Henry turns up to fix the boiler one evening, and Grace can’t decide if she’s hallucinating or has suddenly developed psychic powers. Grace isn’t going mad – the man in front of her is not Henry at all, but someone else who looks uncannily like him. The hole in Grace’s heart grows ever larger.
Grace becomes captivated by this stranger, Andy – to her, he is Henry, and yet he is not. Reminded of everything she once had, can Grace recreate that lost love with Andy, resurrecting Henry in the process, or does loving Andy mean letting go of Henry?
Grace After Henry is funny and moving all at the same time, not an easy thing to achieve. But Eithne Shortall has definitely cracked it.
Grace’s boyfriend, Henry, has died. They were just in the process of embarking on the next stage of their life together when that was it, he was gone. She sees him everywhere, a natural effect of grief. He’s in the restaurant where she works, at the graveyard, in the street. But then one day Andy turns up and he looks just like Henry.
How does Grace deal with this? Well I can’t say as I would give away major spoilers, but what I can say is that Eithne Shortall deals with it beautifully. Grace goes through a myriad of emotions, as you would imagine. And I just loved her! She’s plucky, feisty, funny, she’s everything you want a protagonist to be.
Henry is only a character in flashbacks, but Andy is a prominent character and I thought he was great. In fact, there are many likeable, quirky characters in this book. Grace’s parents, for instance, are just brilliant, not to mention Aiofe, Grace’s arsy mate, Betty, Grace’s very contrary and irritable neighbour, and Grace’s boss at the restaurant, who is so famously rude to customers that the eatery is a sought after spot.
Grace After Henry took me through all the feelings. I cried, I giggled, I was moved, I was torn between wanting Grace to be able to move on and then thinking she shouldn’t. The flashbacks to Grace and Henry’s time together are bittersweet, with the knowledge that they don’t get their happy ending.
I couldn’t help but liken the writing style to Marian Keyes at times. The whole Irish humour, the bonkers family members and friends, and the way the book deals with great sadness without being maudlin were quite similar. But this is a writer with her own style and a fantastic talent. I found Grace After Henry to be a heart-warming and ultimately uplifting read. I think this book is going to be huge.
Eithne Shortall studied journalism at Dublin City University and has lived in London, France and America. Now based in Dublin, she is chief arts writer for the Sunday Times Ireland. She enjoys sea swimming, cycling and eating scones.