Meredith Appleyard takes us deep into the lives of the Fairley Family, their grief and struggles but also their hope and unbreakable bonds. When Grace Went Away will have you reflecting on your own family and what role you play. You might also find yourself placing that long overdue call to your mum halfway through…
The Fairley Family of Miners Ridge, a small South Australian farming community, have been in turmoil for many years. Grace, the eldest of four children has been the link between her mother Sarah – who left eight years before – and her father Doug and siblings Tim and Faith. The family deteriorated not long after the death of Luke the youngest child.
Doug emotionally cut himself off from Sarah but when she left, all but Grace blamed her for abandoning them. Grace has supported her mother and always tried to keep ties between family members smooth but when she decides to take a promotion in the London office of the company she works for, she has to accept that she can’t continue to control things.
When Grace leaves, Sarah dedicates all her days to looking after her elderly mother but when she dies there is little for her to do but dwell on the mistakes she has made and what she has lost. Now, in the absence of Grace, she finds herself pulled back to the small town where her estranged children and grandchildren live. Trying to rebuild family relationships, she uncovers a long-kept secret that could change her world…
All of this is playing out while Grace is on the other side of the world. Has she made the right decision to relocate and is it wise to be starting a long-distance relationship with her brother’s friend, who is six years younger?
Told from the viewpoints of Sarah and Grace, When Grace Went Away is an enthralling read. You can’t help but be swept up in this family saga and hope they can heal. There are many poignant moments when the individual family members stories start to unravel.
It’s clear that Australian author Meredith Appleyard is familiar with the small-town setting – she lives in the Clare Valley, a wine-growing region of South Australia, and her experience as a registered nurse and midwife who has practised in both country health settings and in London has been put to good use. In this new offering she really hits her stride and I’ll be seeking out her previous books asap.
This is definitely one to set aside some time for, grab a tea or coffee and settle in for a glorious read that will stay with you long after the last page.