Grace’s Table by Sally Piper Legend Press August 1st 2019
Grace has not had twelve people at her table for a long time. Hers isn’t the kind of family who share regular Sunday meals. But it isn’t every day you turn seventy.
As Grace prepares the feast, she reflects on her life, her marriage and her friendships. When the three generations come together, simmering tensions from the past threaten to boil over. The one thing that no one can talk about is the one thing that no one can forget.
Grace’s Table is a moving and often funny novel about the power of memory and the family rituals that define us.
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.
I would like to thank Legend Press for a copy of Grace’s Table to read and review and to Lucy Chamberlain for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Sally Piper is an award-winning Brisbane based writer. She is a former nurse and nurse educator, specialising in neurosurgical critical care, and has worked in both Australia and the UK.
Sally has had short fiction and non-fiction published in various online and print publications, including a prize-winning short story in the first One Book Many Brisbanes anthology, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Saturday Paper, Weekend Australian and WQ plus other literary magazines and journals in the UK. She has been interviewed for radio, been a guest panellist at literary festivals and delivered many author talks and readings.
Sally holds a Master of Arts (Research) in Creative Writing from Queensland University of Technology. During her post-graduate studies she also tutored on the QUT Creative Writing program. She currently presents workshops and seminars for the Queensland Writers’ Centre and mentors on their ‘Writer’s Surgery’ program.
Follow Sally on Twitter @SallyPiper