This review is for A Subtle Grace (O'Donovan Family, Book 2),which is part of a historical series authored by Ellen Gable. The book that I read, as you can see, is the second in the O'Donovan series (Book 1 is called In Name Only, which I have not read). I found, though, that this book easily stood alone, and I did not feel as though I was coming in on a story that I missed part of. In fact, I was so curious after finishing that I went and read the synopsis of the first book to see which characters that story focused on. :) Here is the plot synopsis, courtesy of Amazon, for A Subtle Grace:
1896, Philadelphia. In this sequel to "In Name Only" (2009, FQP), "A Subtle Grace" continues the story of the wealthy and unconventional O’Donovan Family as they approach the dawn of a new century.I really, really enjoyed this book. I've been thinking about it since I finished, which is always quite telling. To be clear, I review a lot of Catholic Young Adult fiction on this blog, and this book is NOT part of that genre. This is adult fiction, as several plot twists involve things not suitable for a young audience. Aforementioned plot twists are quite compelling, however, and I was reading along at a rapid clip, anxious to see what would happen and how the (very dastardly!) villain would be vanquished. :) No spoilers here though! You'll have to go read to find out what I'm alluding to. ;-)
At 19, Kathleen (oldest daughter) is unmarried with no prospects. Fearing the lonely fate of an old maid, her impatience leads to an infatuation with the first man who shows interest. The suave, handsome son of the local police chief seems a perfect match. But will her impulsive manner prevent her from recognizing her true beloved? A disturbing turn of events brings a dark shadow that threatens the life-long happiness she desires.
Dr. Luke Peterson (the family’s new physician) also makes quite an impression on Kathleen. His affection for her leads him to startling revelations: about Kathleen, about his practice and, most importantly, about himself.
Will (oldest son) believes God may be calling him to a religious vocation. Eventually, he discovers the hidden circumstances of his humble beginnings compelling him to embark on a pilgrimage to Rome.
This is what I would characterize as a sweeping family drama, and we move along in time and sticky situations with multiple individuals as they discern their faith and future. The characters are very likeable, especially Kathleen and Luke, who are the focus of the book. I felt myself rooting for them to get together as I progressed through the story. But I also really liked Will's storyline as he discerns a vocation to the priesthood. There are a few other, very endearing, sub-plots involving Kathleen's parents (whom, I come to find out, were the focus of book 1! I'm going to have to check that out) and one of her other brothers who seems headed down an immoral path. The Catholic faith of each of the characters is explored within the context of the dilemmas that they face, and woven into the story perfectly.
I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but when I do, I want it to be a gripping story that highlights the setting in a thought-provoking fashion. This book definitely fulfills that criteria. There is one particular plot point I'm thinking of, in fact, that historically fits into the time period, and just brought me to tears. I had to get up out of bed to go fetch a box of tissue. :) When a book can do that, well...that's certainly the sign of gifted storytelling.
I absolutely recommend this one, my friends, and it's a mere $4.99 as a Kindle download! There is also a print copy available for $17, if you prefer that format. Definitely give this book a try! I haven't read another religious fiction novel quite like it, and you all know that I read a LOT of religious fiction. I think that you will enjoy it!
Has anybody else read either book in this series so far? Do chime in in the comments!
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.