Saving Grace

Saving Grace

4.0 5
by Lee Smith
     
 

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This is why I have had to come back now, traveling these dusty old back roads one more time. For I mean to tell my story, and I mean to tell the truth. I am a believer in the Word, and I am not going to flinch from telling it, not even the terrible things…
 
Florida Grace Shepherd, eleventh child of the itinerant, snake-handling Reverend

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Overview

This is why I have had to come back now, traveling these dusty old back roads one more time. For I mean to tell my story, and I mean to tell the truth. I am a believer in the Word, and I am not going to flinch from telling it, not even the terrible things…
 
Florida Grace Shepherd, eleventh child of the itinerant, snake-handling Reverend Virgil Shepherd, grew up traveling across the Appalachian South. In her heart, she raged against the constant hardships that her parents insisted were part of the Lord’s plan. As she got older, she learned of her father’s “backsliding” with other women, and watched as it drove her mother to an early grave.
 
Returning to Scrabble Creek, where her happiest memories took place, Grace recounts the harrowing journey of her life with the Lord, from her travels with her father to the day she finally broke free of him only to marry another preacher much older than she, as well as her own stumbles along the rocky and winding path to her own redemption.
 

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for SAVING GRACE:

"Evocative...Lyric, poetic and subtly cosmic...her best yet." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Lucid in execution, breathtaking in scope and hear-rending in effect—a redemptive work of art." —The Washington Post Book World

"A Compelling journey into all matters southern and spiritual." —The Boston Sunday Globe

"Smith is peerless at evoking an entire world with a detail or two...The comedy is rich, and the sense of place is intense." —Detroit Free Press 

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Florida Grace Shepherd is another of Smith's spirited Southern women of humble background (Fair and Tender Ladies, etc.) who are destined to endure difficult and often tragic times. Instantly appealing by virtue of her distinctive narrative voice, which is iconoclastic and free from self-pity, Grace is the daughter of Virgil Shepherd, a self-styled minister who spreads the gospel in revival meetings by means of serpent handling and personal charisma. Even as a child, ``Gracie'' hates her father's insistence on constant prayer, poverty and the need to see God's benevolent ``testing'' in every hardship to which he subjects his family. As she matures, she realizes that her father is a compulsive womanizer who excuses his frequent lapses by claiming that God forgives him whenever he ``backslides.'' Though his behavior eventually drives her mother to suicide, it takes longer for Grace herself to escape her father's psychic clutches. She is seduced by a half-brother at 14 and at 17 marries a melancholy 42-year-old preacher; she has two children and succumbs to an adulterous affair. Smith has great empathy for the poor, uneducated country people who yearn for a transcendent message to infuse their lives with spiritual meaning, and she demonstrates clearly how an aberrant individual like Virgil can attract fervent followers. She is less successful than usual in winning sympathy for her flawed heroine, however. Although she makes understandable the reasons for Grace's shallow personality and shows how a lifetime of sexual repression can trigger infidelity, Grace's abandonment of her children seems implausible, and her suffering never achieves a convincing poignancy. Literary Guild selection. (May)
School Library Journal
YA-Florida Grace Shepard, named for the state in which she was born and for the grace of God, is the daughter of a charismatic serpent-handling preacher. She is content with her early life in Scrabble Creek, North Carolina-no easy task when her family moves whenever her father is arrested for conducting services with live snakes-and she even finds a friend. With Southern style, Smith takes Grace from a young girl struggling with her own identity, though marriage, motherhood, and an adulterous affair that changes her very way of life. Readers go along on a journey of wonders, miracles, and tragedy with all the people Grace meets. This is not a tale of adventure but rather of Southern life and spiritual searching.-Katherine Fitch, Lake Braddock Middle School, Burke, VA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780425267288
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/03/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
498,189
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Praise for SAVING GRACE:

"Evocative...Lyric, poetic and subtly cosmic...her best yet." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Lucid in execution, breathtaking in scope and hear-rending in effect—a redemptive work of art." —The Washington Post Book World

"A Compelling journey into all matters southern and spiritual." —The Boston Sunday Globe

"Smith is peerless at evoking an entire world with a detail or two...The comedy is rich, and the sense of place is intense." —Detroit Free Press

Meet the Author

Lee Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including Saving Grace and The Last Girls. One of the most distinctive literary voices to portray the American South, Smith has won the O. Henry Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction, and the Southern Book Critics Circle Award.

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