When Grace Went Away – Meredith Appleyard

Thank you Harlequin Australia for sending me a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. Synopsis

She’s gone … will her family pull together, or fall further apart?

Classic, women-centred fiction, a complex, multi-layered story about family and community, from the author of the warmly received Home at Last.

‘Functionally dysfunctional.’ That’s how financial analyst Grace Fairley describes her family in the small South Australian farming community of Miners Ridge – a family fractured by tragedy and kept that way by anger, resentment and petty jealousies. As the eldest sibling, Grace tries to keep the family in touch, but now she’s accepted a promotion to the London office. Time-zones and an enormous workload mean she’s forced to take a step back, although she finds time to stay in contact with Miners Ridge landscape gardener Aaron Halliday.

Sarah Fairley, Grace’s mother, fled Miners Ridge and her embittered husband eight years ago. Now, in the absence of Grace, she finds herself pulled back to the small town where her estranged children and grandchildren live. Drawn into the local community, and trying to rebuild family relationships, she uncovers a long-kept secret that could change her world …

Can Grace, Sarah and their family find a way to heal? Who will have the courage to make the first move?

My review

If you’re looking for a story that is hard to put down, When Grace Went Away is it.

Grace, originally from Miner’s Ridge, a country town in South Australia, is a woman who has worked hard for her recent promotion. Her job will take her to London. Grace is close with her mother and has been there for her in the hardest of times. Her decision to move is one she doesn’t take lightly. I connected with Grace immediately. She is a character who has suffered grief, having lost her brother and in essence, the connection with her siblings and father. Before leaving for London she takes a trip to Miner’s Ridge.  As Grace learns more about her family, she learns more about herself. She ends up moving to London for her career and finds herself in the perfect spot to travel around Europe, yet with her long hours, this prevents her from exploring and with the homesickness she starts to feel, she must consider what is truly important. Will Grace choose family and love or her career? The romance in the novel kept my attention. Grace connects with her old flame, Grant as she is getting to know Aaron. Aaron and Grace meet in Miner’s Ridge before she leaves. Aaron’s caring nature and interest in Grace’s wellbeing continues when Grace is in London and they start to confide in one another in an online setting. Meredith Appleyard’s characters are real and I loved reading about them, their relationships and their development in the story. Here is a family who have been drawn apart due to grief and despair. The pain and loss felt has changed who they are and what they live for. With a few important changes, each character experiences healing in their lives.

Appleyard’s writing is heartfelt and makes for an enjoyable read.  This is a story I couldn’t put down. I love a good story in which the protagonist truly considers what is important in life. The overall message of the novel is beautiful.

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