Full of Grace

Full of Grace

by Dorothea Benton Frank


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The move from New Jersey to Hilton Head, South Carolina, wasn't easy for the Russo family—difficult enough for Big Al and Connie, but even harder for their daughter Maria Graziella, who insists on being called Grace. At thirty-one and still, shockingly, unmarried, Grace has scandalized her staunchly traditional Italian family by moving in with her boyfriend Michael—who, though a truly great guy, is agnostic, commitment-phobic, a scientist, and (horror of horrors) Irish!

Grace adores her parents even though they drive her crazy—and she knows they'd love Michael if they got to know him, but Big Al won't let him into their house. And so the stage is set for a major showdown—which, along with a devastating, unexpected crisis and, perhaps, a miracle or two, just might change Grace's outlook on love, family, and her new life in the new South.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061374531
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/24/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 139,307
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She resides in the New York area with her husband.


New Jersey and Sullivan's Island, South Carolina

Place of Birth:

Sullivan's Island, South Carolina

Read an Excerpt

Full of Grace

A Novel
By Dorothea Frank

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Dorothea Frank
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060892358

Chapter One


Everything Michael just told you is true, but you have to understand our lives in its whole context for this story to make any sense. What happened to us was so unexpected that I think it's worth understanding how we came together and why everything could only have happened as it did.

So let me take you back to the beginning and, for the moment, offer this singular thought. There are still a few pockets of the earth that transcend the realities of the modern world. To my complete astonishment, the Lowcountry of South Carolina is one of them. No one who knows the area would argue. Not every square inch of it is spiritually uplifting because it's got its commercial sprawl like all cities. But just minutes south of historic Charleston's ageless glories and the plastic outskirts of suburbia, the neon world of consumerism begins to melt away.

Soon, moving along on Savannah Highway, there is a small rise in the road. Rantowles Creek. The deep blue water is vast, shimmering like fields of sequins, their tiny edges catching flashes of the afternoon light. Every single time I passed over the tiny bridge I would literally gasp with surprise. It was so vibrant with life and naturally beautiful.

For the trillionth or so time, I wondered why I didn't sublet my carriage house in downtown Charleston, move out here and sink roots in this blue and green paradise. But as soon as I asked myself the question, the answer was on the tip of my tongue. The answer was simple. I was still in the game, running with the ball like my hair was on fire. Besides, I was still too urban. I mean, moving to Charleston had been a concession to my family after decades of living in and around New York, working for a luxury travel service that paid very little but took me everywhere I ever wanted to go: Cambodia, Chile, the Galapagos, Patagonia, Istanbul -- dream it up, I can arrange it and you will travel like royalty. It was a niche business, but a very nice niche.

Eventually, I moved to the Lowcountry. I had been terrified to leave New York and in other ways just as terrified to stay. My family knew it, too. Truly there wasn't much happening in my personal life except the packing and unpacking of luggage. So as usual, my father decided to take the matter of my future into his own lovable hands. He begged me to just try Charleston for a while, and after the big showdown, I finally caved. Here's how that happened.

He called me one morning and said, "You gonna be home tonight?"

I said, "Yeah? Who wants to know?"

"The FBI. Be home at seven and that's it. Don't ask no more questions."

So without any further hullabaloo, Big Al flew to New York and showed up that night with a sack of Chinese takeout. I opened the door to my apartment on lower Fifth Avenue and there he stood. Delighted to see the man who loved me more than anyone ever had, I threw my arms around his neck and hugged him with all my might. I was a mainlining daddy's girl and not apologetic in the least.

After a feast of hot-and-sour soup, steamed dumplings, Peking duck, pork lo mein, and a lot of chitchat, he stood up and read his fortune cookie aloud.

" 'The Buddha sees Big Al's only daughter in Charleston living happily in a carriage house on Wentworth Street that her wonderful father already bought for an investment and will allow her to live in rent-free but she has to pay the utilities.' Humph! Well, what do you say about that, princess?"

What could I say? Even though I was an adult, I still loved the fact that my dad wanted to spoil me rotten. And that he missed me. The next day I called Eric Bomze, who owned the company I worked for, and who by coincidence had relocated to Charleston after opening another office in Atlanta. He said, Come to Charleston immediately. That was the end of the New York chapter of my life. I called a mover and began to pack.

To my surprise and delight, it turned out that Charleston had everything I thought I needed and more. Like New York, it had neighborhoods and corner stores. It was old but not decrepit. What it didn't have was snow, ice or, to date, terrorists.

It was little things that made me happy -- frothy cappuccinos and the New York Times at my fingertips. I loved chamber music and theater. Salsa dancing, tennis and biking. Restaurants and shopping. Charleston had that and lots more, and best of all, I could walk to work. And once Michael became my "other," he could be at the Medical University in five minutes. We didn't pay a fortune to park or live on gridlock alert during the holiday season. So living downtown was the perfect decision for us.

We couldn't be bothered with a house and a yard. And I hated to admit it, but a suburban house would have destroyed our relationship in about two days. It wasn't about who was going to cut the grass or clean out the garage. No, it was fastidiously manicured neighborhoods with married couples having block parties, backyard barbecues with coordinated paper products, children, dogs and bicycles strewn helter-skelter like randomly placed garden sculpture. That whole scene had the malodorous quality of long-term commitment. The M word. Like cheap chocolate -- it looked good, but ultimately it made your teeth hurt. Marriage was not for me. Or Michael.

We didn't want to live among a sliding-scale population of predictable failures. Like stick-figure couples in a PowerPoint presentation, diminishing with each screen until over half of them disappeared by the end. We were together because we wanted to be together, not because we were stuck under the heel of a legal . . .


Excerpted from Full of Grace by Dorothea Frank Copyright © 2006 by Dorothea Frank. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Full of Grace 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely LOVED this book! Now I want to go to Mexico to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe! Enjoyed all of the books I've read so far -- can't wait to read the new one that just came out!
L_T102 More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading "Full of Grace". The Russo family are a very interesting and believe was an example an Italian-American family. It was never dull to read about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great book. I love the author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the charachters and the story.
Mary Jeffrey More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. All of her books are about some kind of growth, and this was no exception. This book helps you to see miracles can happen to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Frank. When I saw the review in regards to Franks knowledge of Italians and northerners I was worried but as I read this, I knew she did not let me down. Her descriptions of the Italian family life were spot on. As were her descriptions of northern points of view. (I'm originally from Morristown NJ). The only thing I thought was a stretch was her mothers secret but that is just my view. Other than that I thought the book was great and hoping there might be a sequel in the future!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book -- I am surprised to see such low ratings here. I found the book so easy to read -- lots of emotions -- happy and sad. I sure do recommend this book.
Anonymous 3 months ago
write_stuff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A departure from Frank's usual fare, but I enjoyed it.
BarbsReviews on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I see a few did not rate the book well, but I have to differ. I rather enjoyed reading about Grace and her crazy family along with her wonderful boyfriend Michael. It makes you see how other families deal with certain issues that come their way and just how open some Catholics are. As a cancer survivor myself I could relate to Michael and Grace and their fears and joys. I am also Lutheran and can relate to some of the Catholic was as well. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good love story, religious, humor and down right crazy folk.
elsi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was surprising in many ways. Having read several books by this author, I was sure I would like this one as well. I did, but not the way that I expected.The book starts with a rather mundane accounting of Grace's day-to-day life. She's living with her boyfriend, Michael, who is a research physician. On holidays, she visits her family—but without Michael who isn't welcome at her parent's home. Part of the reason is because he's using stem cells in his research and their Catholic doctrine condemns it. But the primary reason is that he's not Italian; he's Irish, of all things.I was lulled along, getting to know the Russos through Grace's visits with them¿the conflicts being played out over a dinner table loaded with holiday goodies. Then, the family has to face two crises. First, Nonna falls and breaks her hip. In considerable pain, she refuses to cooperate with her therapists and demands to go home, expecting Grace's mother to care for her around the clock. Then, Michael is diagnosed with a virulent form of cancer and Grace needs her family's support as never before.My favorite character in this book is Father John. I'd like to meet him in real life. In one scene, discussing en vitro fertilization, he says, "I think that the Church's major area of concern has always been that children are begotten not made. Is it right to make children in a laboratory setting just because we can?" And also, "The trick is not to rationalize your decisions knowing that they displease God."I was only looking for a good story, but along with that, I got some wise spiritual guidance. A good deal in my book.
countrylife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Blech!!! I was looking forward to this one, after previously reading another book by the author. Her ¿Sullivan's Island¿ was richly evocative of the area ¿ its setting, people, customs, mood. This one left me cold. The title character lives in Charleston, and we are introduced to a lot of local restaurants and streets, but they never 'become' part of the story; it felt more like a laundry list of names. Grace is in the luxury travel industry and the author fills pages with descriptions of her tourists and their destinations ¿ Sardinia, California wine country, Mexico City. But there was no magic. Well, actually there WAS magic, but not in great writing. It was all religiosity, catholic saints and miracles. The story line was mundane and predictable. I expected more of Frank's genius in the setting department as well. The characters of the immediate family, though, were fully fleshed out and believable, but that's the only thing I cared for in this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As always, Dorothea give a wonderful read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great read from Dorthea Benton Frank I look forward to the next...
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Loved this one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spiritual content is a plus! It was a slow read.
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rebeRC More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book!
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