Cover Image: Grace

Grace

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Member Reviews

An absorbing story of a mother who gives up her baby and a couple who want to adopt. It seems straight forward until Michelle, the mother, decides she would like to keep the baby. A difficult subject handled with care and understanding. The outcome is unexpected and heartwarming. A fabulous read.
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This second book from Victoria Scott is another amazing page-turner.
Told from the viewpoint of two women, both at different ends of the same struggle, with an additional view of the judge presiding over a very heart-wrenching child custody case.
Michelle is young and has suffered considerably in that short life, at the hands of an inadept social services team, who failed her, from the moment she was separated from her younger sister at the age of six. Fast forward to her late teens, and she has found herself pregnant, in a relationship with a man who has stood by her more than any of the so-called support workers she has had assigned to her. Even his questionable behaviour towards her doesn't waiver her trust in him.
However, they're broke, live in squalor, and she knows that is no place to bring up a baby, however much she is already attached to that little being.
Amelia is a woman, in a marriage tinged with sadness at the fact that they can't have children, and the one time they thought their dream would come true ended up in the tragedy of stillbirth.
A solution to both of these women's problems could be found, in the placement of little Grace, born to Michelle. She thinks her daughter would be better off in the care of someone who could give her everything.
And that someone could be Amelia, and her husband Piers, who are approached via the Foster to Adopt scheme.
The thing is, nothing is ever that simple.
It was, indeed a roller coaster of emotions as I read the story, following the feelings of a young woman who desperately wants to get her life, and daughter back, and a woman who knows her dream is on the cusp of becoming a reality, but everything balances on the decisions of a judge, after a drawn-out investigation.
All in all, the final conclusion was what I wanted to happen, but there was so much happening in the background, as you read, even if you are of a differing opinion, you would probably agree that it was for the best. People are not always what they seem, and this book demonstrated that, perfectly.
So emotional. But brilliant.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Victoria Scott poured her heart and soul into this book - it’s been a long time since I felt so emotional - well done and thank you. 
Melanie is 19, in a toxic relationship and equally toxic environment with Rob, her boyfriend, and she is pregnant. Having spent most of her life in the care system until she was 16 she had suffered an extremely difficult childhood. She decides to place her child up for adoption to give her a stable healthy life - a life she never had. 
Amelia and her husband are a married couple who cant have children of their own so when they get the call to tell them a newborn baby girl is available to them they are over the moon although Amelia secretly has doubts - nobody is that lucky or will the adoption be seamless. Her worst fears come true and they are told that the birth mother has changed her mind and wants her daughter back to raise her on her own. 
A family court battle has to be carried out with the judge deciding who is the most appropriate person to raise the child. 
Great but heartbreaking storyline loved it.
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What a beautiful novel. I inhaled it in two sittings, caused only by my body’s pesky insistence on falling asleep before I’d finished reading for the night. As another reviewer mentioned, don’t start this book at 9pm unless you have a day off the next day and have already taken a nap! 
Writing about adoption, fostering and the family court system without personal first hand experience shouldn’t be possible but Scott proves that it is and that is can be done well. She has taken this most polarising of subjects (and a reader who is often quick to pick a side and stick to it) and  examined it so sensitively and openly from all angles often stamping out stereotypes on the way. This is made even more incredible when I read what had first inspired Scott to write this novel in the first place. 
Another thing that I really liked about this novel wasn’t just its wonderful descriptions of Malvern and it’s eponymous hills and it’s fantastically warm and real characterisations but that so much of the story hinges on a place of worship, the Abbey and yet the book is almost entirely secular with prayer being one reason amongst many for scenes taking place there. Churches have stood in England for hundreds and even a thousand years and have been at the heart of their communities and this book with its food bank and senior’s club reminds people that this tradition continues to this day and I hope this encourages some readers to step into a church and simply enjoy the space and the people within it without being scared that they will be proselytised to. 
Although there are some male characters this book is predominantly about strong, feisty women from all walks of life, academic or career backgrounds and without seeking to make them angelic, martyred or in any way super human she has just let them shine and reminded this reviewer in particular, how powerful woman can be when they come together and work together.
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A quick and easy read that I found myself picking up after a long day to unwind. The characters are beautifully written and I came to love them within the first few pages and was rooting for them all the way to the end. At times I wanted to stop reading because I just wanted the experience to go on for longer.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Very skillfully written. An emotional but gripping read. I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend to friends.
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I really enjoyed this book. 

It was a sensitive subject but it was easy to read and it was beautifully written.

I can’t wait to read another book by this author.  I would highly recommend this book.
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I read this book so quickly it was well written with well developed and believable characters and a good storyline which dealt with raw and emotive issues in a sensitive and simplistic manner. I couldnt put this book down, it was both heartwrenching and heartwarming and I didnt want it to end.
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Victoria Scott, Grace, Head of Zeus, Aria, 2022

Thank you, NetGalley, for providing me with this uncorrected proof in exchange for an honest review.

Victoria Scott approaches several difficult topics with sensitivity and meticulous attention to detail. The parallel stories of Michelle and Rob, the birth parents of Grace, and Amelia and Piers, Grace’s prospective adoptive parents, are more complex than is immediately apparent.  Their putative focus is Grace and her future parenthood. 

However, by digging deeper into the relationships, as Scott does so skilfully, it becomes clear that the couples have more in common than initially realised.  Linking the couples through their private relationships with each other as well as their public personas is masterful.  So too are the observations made about social services and legal systems. Graphic descriptions of the characters’ clothing and hairstyles, which could possibly be seen as a frivolous aside in this novel packed with serious social commentary, are a valid recognition of why and how roles are adopted and understood through image. All these factors add layers upon layers of understanding and complexity to the question to be decided by the court – who should be baby Grace’s permanent parent/s? 

The story is told by Michelle and Amelia, Grace’s possible mothers-to-be. Michelle’s voice is heard first as she gives birth to Grace, and in the aftermath of the birth. Her voice, demeanour and attitude are harsh. She is alone in the hospital. In contrast, Amelia is a sorrowful, soft figure, who has had several courses of IVF treatment and a still birth, and is happily married to Piers, a school master. They are parent figures to the boarders at the school. After Grace’s birth, and on the basis that Michelle has done little to demonstrate her commitment to the baby, she is placed with Amelia and Piers on the foster to adopt plan. 

Amelia’s belief that the baby will be a magical addition to her household is sadly misplaced – moments of joy are followed by many of sleeplessness, crying, the entrapment that is an outcome of the logistical difficulties of preparing to travel with a baby, and a partner whose support subtly varies. Michelle’s freedom without the baby is also curtailed – by the pain following childbirth and engorged breasts, poverty, hunger, and an obviously unsupportive partner.  The women’s struggles, their fights to overcome their physical and mental frailty, and developing relationships outside their domestic environments are well drawn. These women have stories to tell and are rightly given the vital voices in the narrative.

Grace is a novel that has its impetus in personal knowledge of a friend’s similar experience as part of the foster to adopt scheme. However, this kernel of familiarity has been developed well beyond the initial impetus. This is a novel that is impressive in its understanding of the motivations for all the characters, whatever their social situation, and experience.  Grace is a very good read, and a positive contribution to understanding complex social questions.
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Whatever you do, do not start ANY of Victoria’s books at 9pm because I can absolutely guarantee you’ll still be reading in the wee hours! I absolutely devoured ‘Grace’ in less than 12 hours (with some sleep in between you’ll be pleased to hear). I knew from the first chapter that it was going to be a heart wrenching story, and it is, but it is written with such authenticity and is just utterly gripping. 
Amelia and Michelle couldn’t be more different and yet as the story draws on, more and more common threads appear until you realise how broken women can be by the situations they find themselves in. I have a friend who fostered to adopt and I feel this book gave me a teeny tiny insight into what they experienced and also gives us all food for thought on what a successful adoption looks like. Whoever “won”- birth mother or foster mother- someone has a child they love taken away from them. Such a complicated subject and yet Victoria Scott embraced it with care, passion and love. 
This is a book I will be shouting about from the roof tops.
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I really enjoyed reading this book - it was not an easy read as we have been adoptive parents and some of the experiences in the book brought back memories.

I found it well written and interesting to hear from the varied viewpoints and see the social work profession and legal process put in a positive light. I had not expected the outcome and felt for all the parties involved.

A book I will be recommending.
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An amazing emotional rollercoaster of a book! I found the characters really engaging and found myself identifying with both of the protagonists in different ways. The storyline was intense and emotional, but the topics were handled sensitively by the author. A very insightful book.
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An emotional read with many sensitive subjects dealt with sensitively, poverty, abuse, adoption, social services, drugs, community, so many threads.  Poignant, drawing the reader in to appreciate, understand and empathise with different sides of life and what may lie beneath the surface.  Totally enthralling as one just couldn't see which way this well written story was going plus a whole cast of brilliantly depicted characters make this a worthy read.
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Wonderfully simple concept and a beautifully written novel. A tough subject matter was approached with real tenderness and understanding. In fact with real grace!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me read an advance copy of this book in exchange for my feedback.
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Michelle is a young woman who has grown up in care and has had an unstable life and decides to give her baby up for adoption. Two stories run parallel as we meet the couple who foster baby Grace with a view to adopting her. The adoptive mother falls completely in love with the baby but nothing is certain until the final court date. I thought this was a well written read that was sensitive and gripping.
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