Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Shades of Grace - Barbara Delinsky

Grace Dorian is The Confidante, America's favorite advice columnist. Her wisdom has helped to guide two generations—including her daughter, Francine, and granddaughter, Sophie, who manage the vast Dorian empire and oversee the thousand details of Grace's world.

But a national treasure is losing her brilliance. Her once razor-sharp mind is showing strain; her columns have begun to wander. Concerned about Grace's health and future, Francine must step in to fill her legendary mother's shoes and somehow also live her own life, which now suddenly includes her confusing feelings for Grace's handsome doctor and new worries about tempestuous Sophie, who needs more guidance than Grace's public.

I'm a massive Barbara Delinsky addict and I'm constantly amazed at how compelling her books are and how she can create so many unique characters. I've yet to encounter a Delinsky novel that I hate and I've only read one so far that I felt was simply okay. This novel, on the other hand, was fantastic. Although released in 1995, Delinsky is fantastic at painting the portrait of a family dealing with their matriarch's sudden decline into Alzheimer's Disease. The main character of the novel is Francine, who is struggling to come to turns with how much her mother is changing, and taking over the family "business" - writing an advice collumn. Other characters are Grace, declining because of her disease and struggling to hide secrets in her past; Sophie, Francine's daughter who previously went out of her way to rebel against her grandmother and is trying to find her place in the world; Davis, Grace's doctor and Francine's love interest; and new-comer Robin, a journalist whose life was dominated by Grace's collumn who ends up helping Francine. As a result of this large cast of characters, I can understand how some readers could find the many plots and sub-plots difficult to follow. Personally, I love stories with as much drama as this! Hidden family secrets! Secret pasts! Love interests! Yes, I'm a romantic at heart - but this isn't simply a romance. It's a story of families and the ties that bond them together - and building new bonds. I was satisfied with the outcome of the story, even if I did see it coming. And I was pleased with the way that Grace's story panned out. Despite all the drama and new relationships being created, Delinsky didn't forget Grace's disease and it progressed in a very realistic manner. My own grandmother was diagnosed with AD when I was about 11 and although she's taken almost 8 years to get to the stage that Grace does at the end of the book, the difficulties that she and her family suffered really struck a chord with me. Even if you're not a fan of this style of novel or of Delinsky's work, this book is worth reading for the depiction of AD alone. And if you do love family sagas and romances, then this an especially deep and meaningful one! 9/10

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