Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Subtle Grace by Ellen Gable

Award-winning author Ellen Gable has produced a stunning stand-alone sequel to In Name Only (Full Quiver Publishing, 2009).  A Subtle Grace is a historical romance, set at the turn of the 20th century.  Gable spins a compelling story of the O’Donovan Family, a wealthy and morally upright, yet down-to-earth Catholic family.  The novel is engaging, with a moving plot, while also exploring sensitive issues of courtship, chastity, family secrets, healing, and forgiveness.

The O’Donovans encourage their 19-year-old daughter Kathleen to pursue a nursing career, while carefully guiding her through her first experience with courtship.  Kathleen feels drawn to Karl, the charming son of the local police chief, while also developing a working friendship with Luke, the new family physician.   Her older brother William feels called to become a priest, while her younger brother John struggles with maintaining his chastity.

Gable makes wonderful use of symbolism, through the artwork carefully selected for her cover, descriptive scenery, and mentions of classic literary works that give subtle hints at where the plot may be going.  Yet she escapes predictability, and the story kept me wanting to read more.  The end is both surprising and satisfying.

This book is appropriate for reading by older teens.  Content includes non-graphic descriptions of mild violence, birth, death, prostitution, and attempted rape, and vague hints at self-gratification.  These issues are explored honestly but gently, and open the doors for fruitful parent-child conversations on the Theology of the Body.

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