Book Review: A Subtle Grace by Ellen Gable

A subtle grace review

Book Description:

1896, Philadelphia In this sequel to “In Name Only” (2009, FQP), “A Subtle Grace” continues the story of the wealthy and unconventional O’Donovan Family as they approach the dawn of a new century.

At 19, Kathleen (oldest daughter) is unmarried with no prospects. Fearing the lonely fate of an old maid, her impatience leads to an infatuation with the first man who shows interest. The suave, handsome son of the local police chief seems a perfect match. But will her impulsive manner prevent her from recognizing her true beloved? A disturbing turn of events brings a dark shadow that threatens the life-long happiness she desires.

Dr. Luke Peterson (the family’s new physician) also makes quite an impression on Kathleen. His affection for her leads him to startling revelations: about Kathleen, about his practice and, most importantly, about himself.

My comments:

I loved In Name Only, as well as her other novels, so I was thrilled when Ellen offered me an advanced copy of A Subtle Grace, and it was wonderful “catching up” with the O’Donovan family. 🙂 Of course, the novel takes place years later, focusing on Kathleen and Will (her brother) and at first I was disappointed that the focus wasn’t on Caroline and David. However, in a few pages in, I was hooked!

As usual, Ellen does a wonderful job portraying realistic, memorable characters and touching on delicate subjects in a sensitive, caring manner. She also weaves  authentic Catholic teaching seamlessly throughout the novel, without being preachy or overbearing.

My only criticism, which I realise is kind of petty, has to do with the dialogue. It reads rather stiffly at times and there is an over use of “very well” and “indeed.” I believe the language and word choice is a genuine attempt to use the authentic language of the times depicted in the novel (late 1890s), and I appreciate the effort; however, the writing seemed forced at times. (Now, I have a “proof” copy of the book, so it is possible that the language/word choice has been changed – so take this critique with a grain of salt). * Besides, the minor faults of the dialogue does not take away from the story.

In short, I loved the novel, highly recommend it, and give the book four (4) stars.


*When I shared the review with Ellen, she mentioned in her email that she received similar feedback about the forced dialogue and overuse of some words such as “indeed.” She has since made revisions to the book with the feedback in mind. All the more reason to get yourself a copy of the book. If you enjoy Christian fiction, then you should enjoy this book. 🙂

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  1. Good to see you back!! Thanks for the review.
    Colleen…recently posted…Sunday Snippets – May 25My Profile

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