The One Saving Grace
When Harriet Westmoreland goes into labour with twins in Harvey Nichol’s men’s knicker department at exactly the moment she sets eyes on Alex Hamilton, it marks the start of a year of madness – for her, her family and, at times, it seems most of the West Yorkshire village of Midhope.
Giving birth only two months after Harriet, her childhood soulmate Grace has her own craziness to contend with. As both women hurtle down unexpected and very different paths, they flounder in a maelstrom of passion and confusion, perilously clinging on as the chain of events that threatens not only their comfortable, ordinary lives but also their very existence…
Although this is a sequel to Goodness, Grace and Me (see the TBR Pile review), it really can be read as a stand-alone novel, although if you are going to read them both (and I suggest you do), do read them in order.
Harriet and Nick have had their twins, and Grace and Sebastian have had their son. Nick’s business is going exceedingly well, Nick’s mother Sylvia is moving away and getting married, the children are growing up, finances are easier, the house is being sorted out. Everything should be rosy in the Westmoreland household, but Hat realises that Grace has post-natal depression, and Hat, despite all her condemnation of adulterers, finds herself sorely tempted to join their ranks.
The story is again written in the first-person point of view of Hat, who is as fun and quirky as ever. As in the previous book there are some serious issues explored; this time they are: post-natal depression, fidelity, friendship, parenting, the school-gate shenanigans, and obsession. Also as before, they are not trivialised but are written about sensitively but with many humorous moments.
I felt the humour in just a couple of places didn’t come quite as naturally as in the prequel, although with this book I did laugh out loud (the owl scene – I just read it again and giggled anew at the organist). But again it was pitched just right and not too over the top.
There is a great cast of secondary characters. Amanda is still very much in evidence ‒ as a new and obsessed grandmother ‒ although I do feel that she is redeeming herself in this book (to start with, anyway). I think my favourite characters, though, are Nick and Kit, who are both a bit in the background but are depicted brilliantly.
Julie Houston is very good at plotting and keeping the many twists in order. She has great wit and a way of instilling humour into mundane events. She can also write movingly about more solemn subjects. What a lot of writers can’t do and which Julie does perfectly, is to interweave the two.
This is a lovely escapism read, and I am looking forward to Julie’s next book.
Editorial Input & Design
Well and invisibly edited. A few more proofreading misses than the previous book, but not enough to pull you out of the story.
Cover: It’s a nice cover, suitable for the target market, in the same style as the previous book in the series, and appropriate to the story, although not really giving any hints to what it’s about to the casual browser.
Internal design: I read this on a Kindle, with no problems.
Book Clubs & Reviews
It’s quite a “light” read, but there are a number of issues that could spark discussion, as noted in the review.
What others are saying: Amazon UK readers give it 5 stars (24 reviewers); Amazon US readers give it 5 stars (3 reviewers); Goodreads readers give it 5 stars (3 ratings).