June 26, 2009

Valley of Grace - Marion Halligan


I had seen Valley of Grace on bookshop shelves around town and was drawn to its wispy, dreamy cover of French terrace houses. I then heard the author, Marion Halligan, speak on the ABC Radio National Book Show program and I decided to give this one a go based on this interview and the cover - two of the factors I often take into account when deciding whether or not to read a book. My friend Tamara has also read and reviewed this one and her review tempted me even further to see what this book was all about.

Valley of Grace is a series of interconnected short stories - connected through the characters and their various relationships and contacts with each other, and the setting of a particular area of Paris and surrounding suburbs.

The characters are also connected by their longings for certain things in their life - children, security, love and a sense of family being some of the main themes explored.

I found the writing direct and clear while at the same time very lyrical. I enjoyed the setting of the stories and even though I have never visited Paris (as yet!) I felt that I had a vivid picture of where these stories were taking place. I particularly enjoyed the scenes in the antiquarian bookshop - I want to go there!

I would recommend this book if you enjoy reading about characters inner lives - their thoughts, dreams, hopes and fears. I loved this one and would love to see a sequel developed as well so I could follow the characters some more.

10 comments:

Danielle said...

I had never heard of this book before reading your post, but now I am going to add it to my list. I love short stories, though I am not apt to pick them up--however I really like interconnected stories like this. And anything set in Paris appeals, too!

booklineandsinker said...

i love short stories--i do an entire unit of them at school each year. this collection sounds good, especially against the backdrop of paris. good review! :)

Tara said...

I had also never heard of this so I'm glad you've reviewed it here. You had me at Paris!

Kim said...

Thank you for another great review. This sounds really interesting and now I am tempted to read Valley of Grace. Short stories are not really my thing but I like the idea that they are all interconnected and the story is set in Paris, so I will put it on my list.

Karen said...

Hi Danielle - I think the release of this book has been kept quite low key by the sounds of things. I think the only reason I know about it is because it is written by an Australian author.

Hi booklineandsinker - I am only a new fan of the short story but I have been finding some good ones.

Hi Tara - I'm very similar - any mention of Paris (or any European city for that matter!) and I am in!

Hi Kim - short stories never used to be my thing either but then I read Jhumpa Lahiri's work and I have never looked back. Have you read anything of hers before??

adevotedreader said...

I've seen this lovely cover around, but haven't felt a pressing need to read until now! I will have to try it, as it's sounds great.

Karen said...

Hi adevotedreader - I hope you enjoy it. I found it really quick and easy to read but completely absorbing at the same time.

Lisa said...

I've never been a huge short story fan, but I've recently begun to find some collections that I like. Your description of this book has me interested. I do love the interior lives of characters. I also really like short stories that are linked in some way, either by characters or settings.

Iliana said...

I think I would have added this to my radar given the cover alone :)

Glad to hear it was a good story and I haven't been to Paris either (yet!) but at least I could travel there via this book :)

Karen said...

Hi Iliana - I think that is why I enjoy books that are set in France and Italy so much - it makes me feel like I am there! Travel via reading!