Grace's Table

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

I’m not going to lie, it took me several attempts at this book until I got into it, as I initially found it off to a really slow start. Sometimes that’s ok, and other times I need an instant attention grabber to keep me interested. But I am so glad I persevered, because GRACE’S TABLE turned out to be a deeply reflective journey for me that made me ponder family, marriage and life in general.

Basically, GRACE’S TABLE revolves around Grace, who is celebrating her 70th birthday by hosting a dinner for her family in her home. As the blurb states:”This wasn’t the kind of family who shared regular Sunday meals.” Interesting - why? As her children, grandchildren and closest friends come together, some old family memories come to the surface that may explain the rift between Grace and her adult children.

As I close this book and reflect on its message, I still feel deeply saddened for Grace. She knew passion once, but as a young woman growing up in conservative small-town Australia, she ended up with the sort of husband everyone approved of but who ultimately did not make her happy. In fact, reading about Grace’s marriage awakened a rage in me that obviously touched some raw spot, and I was instantly grateful that my generation enjoyed so much more freedom of choice when it came to choosing a life partner. As Grace reflects back on her life, I could see the confident and passionate young woman and nurse becoming stifled by an ill-suited partner who would soon suffocate any sense of hope and dreams she had ever had, turning her into a dutiful but unhappy mother and wife. On the other hand, Des, Grace’s husband, was probably as much of a product of his time as Grace was, and in a way I could see my grandparents’ roles reflected in both characters, living up to the expectations of their era dutifully, losing a little bit of themselves along the way. I am not excusing Des’ constant bullying, from dictating what foods Grace was allowed to cook to expecting her to bow to his every wish, but sadly, this too often was the reality women found themselves in during that era. It was through Grace’s fond memories of her Dad that we saw how much Grace suffered, even though she may have seen him through the rose-tinted glasses of a daughter rather than a wife.

When Grace’s life is derailed by a terrible tragedy, it is little surprise that it fragments the family for good. It was at this point in the book that I felt like letting out a scream of raw pain, because Piper brings to life one of the most horrific things a woman would ever have to endure. I’m not about to give spoilers, but be prepared! At this point, I felt truly invested in Grace’s story, and it will be an image that will stay with me in all its horror.

Also interesting was Grace’s relationship with her daughter Susan. Susan was close to her father, and still resents her mother for not loving him (children can always tell), and for her emotional absence after the trauma she suffered. These were such complex family relationships, and I felt that I would have loved to discuss it all with another reader! Through Grace’s relationships with the different members of her family and her closest friends, we become privy to the real Grace, and it was this aspect of the book that ultimately made me glad I finished it.

If you like stories exploring the complexities of family relationships, then this one should definitely be on your list. It is a slow, character-driven story that takes a bit to get going, but once you are in Grace’s head you will appreciate the foundations Piper has laid here for her story. My only regret is not having read this with a book buddy so we could discuss it, as there was much to reflect upon. Which is the very reason I would recommend GRACE’S TABLE as a book club or buddy read. Beautifully written and very reflective!
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There’s nothing like a big birthday to bring all the family together, to stir up memories both good and bad and this is what Piper’s novel Grace’s Table did so brilliantly.

Grace herself, was 70, a widow, with a lover her family could not accept and a lifetime of motherhood, work and hardship. As she cooked dinner with her daughter you could sense the simmering tensions of things left unsaid, of her children’s expectations of what a mother should be. It was almost as if Grace’s life was not her own, that a life spent in a retirement home would make their life simpler, less worrisome. I loved that Grace rebelled, held on to her independence, refused to conform.

As various members of the family arrived so Piper revealed more of Grace’s story, of a husband who ruled the home, of children who grieved and of an empty seat that you sort of knew who it belonged to but not how it came about.

Pipers narrative was wonderfully vivid, the food beautifully described, the emotions of the characters poignant, full of regret, but there was also the beginnings of acceptance and forgiveness. A smashed plate, a revealing of truth long buried were much like opening a champagne bottle letting the bubbles escape, yet none of the celebration.

I riled at her children, could have shaken them with frustration at their selfishness, at their blinkered version of events. I loved the innocence, the honesty of their own children who saw their Grandma for who she was, an acceptance that she had her own life, her won wants and needs.

Piper infused her narrative with humour, with mouth watering descriptions of food, food that fed a family, that identified with the traits of the individuals. It was clever and insightful, utterly engaging and an absolute delight.
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This book details the story of Grace’s 70th birthday meal and over the course of the day, flashes back to her past and the connections with those present at the table.

I loved this book! There were so many great quotes in it. Some of my favourites were:

“Maybe it’s not so much the difficulty of the climb you should be thinking about, as how you can catch your breath along the way.”

"Idle bones make for greater moans.”

“I don’t think passion is a crime. It’s just another kind of science.”

“Changes were at play and age was the umpire.”

“No matter how hard people tried to run, age would always take hostages.”

I was shocked by the twist in the book, I had not seen it coming at all and it’s made me want to re-read the first half again! It was a very clever way of changing how the reader views Grace and her family and their relationships.

I am still mulling over the significance of the refuse workers strike and I am missing something about it? 

I am going to recommend this book highly and it’s ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ from me!
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This book takes us seamlessly through Grace’s past, as she reflects on the last 70 years of her low, whilst preparing a huge meal for 12 members of her family and friends.
This book is written in a way that gives you Grace’s life story, almost without you realising you’re going through it.

I think Sally Piper writes complex family dynamics so well, all in the small details and conversations people have when they’ve known each other for several decades.

I really enjoyed this book, and thought Grace’s life seemed full and rich and complex.
I almost felt like it snuck up on me, how well I knew this character because it’s done so smoothly!

A great read for anyone who loves character stories, and family dynamics and a bit of drama 😊
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🍽
Grace's Table by @sally.piper.writer .Published by @legendpress 🍽
This is the second book written my Sally Piper that I have read and yet again I was not disappointed. 🍽
Its Grace's 70th birthday and instead of going out with her family for a meal she decides to have the whole family round at her house. 🍽
Yet there is a lingering tension in the air . You sense that something is going to happen.  Almost like a crescendo. Starts very quiet then gets louder and louder. 🍽
Grace endures her family being catty with comments to one  an other. 🍽
Grace remembers when her husband Dan was alive and how difficult life was with him.
But was it all as Grace remembered???
🍽
As with most families there is a subject/ topic that never gets spoken about. 
At the end of the meal Grace decides to open her 'pandoras box which in turn let's outa variety of emotions that have been suppressed for a very long time. 🍽
Things are said- words are spoken.
🍽
Did Grace get it right all the time????? 🍽
I adore Sally Pipers writing style-it flows beautifully and she has created an atmosphere within the book that has love, hate, loyalty in equal measure. 🍽
The way Sally incorporates the younger generation with the book gives a refreshing new dynamic and a fresh outlook of an old situation.
🍽
Loved it from start to finish.
🍽
Thank you to both NetGalley and Legend Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book
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For me not a gripping book, but still a good read. Family dynamics come to the fore when Grace celebrates her 70th birthday with a meal at her house. 3 generations and Graces friends meet for lunch at her house. Family grievances are revealed  after years locked up. Relationships were, have been and are tested.
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This book grew on me. It’s moving, emotional and provocative 
This was an unexpected gem of a read. A simple yet thoughtful story
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Interesting book on a family intertwining memories and secrets that compose their life. 

The writing is consistently quiet, atmospheric, and descriptive. This story is not in the first person narrative but mainly told from the protagonist, Grace’s perspective. I enjoyed how each piece of memories is integrated into the preparation for her 70th birthday party and how small thing trigger her reminiscence on her past with her controversial husband, Des and her kids who are now fully grown up. It was so seamlessly done, it sometimes read like a daydream. 

The quiet and soothing undertone might fool you into believing this is an amiable story, but it’s actually got some seriousness and more depth to it, exposing some fray that’s been simmering underneath. It’s more subversive than you might think. You can feel the discordance and some emotional distance between Grace and her daughter, Susan in particular and I really enjoyed the stark contrast in their character arcs. While Susan is like an paradigm of efficiency and practicality, Grace comes across more affectionate and warmer at heart. 
And we readers come to know where such emotional distance lies in the last part of the book followed by a heated discussion between the mother and her children, letting what they have bottled in finally out in the open. 

I enjoyed this quiet journey from beginning to end. Not all the characters are relatable, but they are well differentiated from one another, telling that they were all hurt, damaged and still carry a heavy sense of guilt after all these years.
This story also shares some wisdoms that can only be gained as we age and that cannot be replaced or put away as “change of the times” and they are well-portrayed through the descriptions of food and its preparation. It’s really a unique style and is probably what I found most inspiring. 

All in all, Grace’s Table is a well-written novel of a family, forgiveness and love. If you like stories centered on family, add this book to your list. This book might surprise you. 

Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are strictly my own.
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*2.5 stars rounded up*

This is a story of the importance of family and food. It's a story of traditions, reminiscence, and deep family secrets

We are very much in Grace's head throughout the book, caught up with her thoughts of the present and her past as a young girl. The story is completely character-driven, which I think is why it didn't completely click with me. I also couldn't relate to 70 year old Grace's life experiences, so I found it difficult to connect to her. I'm not completely plot-driven, but I'm learning I need both an engaging plot and great characters

I really enjoyed the complexity of Grace's relationship with her daughter, Susan. It was quite hostile but still filled with love and well meaning. I've never read a subtly strained relationship like it and it felt incredibly tangible. As the book progresses we learn of reasons for this hostility which gave a lot of depth to the characters and their motivations

Overall, this book is well written and the characters are fleshed out. As a warning, one of the characters is a butcher and there's some detailed description of that, which I really didn't enjoy, but that definitely won't bother everyone!
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