Title: Saving Grace by Jane Green
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 353 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Grace and Ted Chapman are widely regarded as the perfect literary power couple. Ted is a successful novelist and Grace, his wife of twenty years, is beautiful, stylish, carefree, and a wonderful homemaker. But what no one sees, what is churning under the surface, is Ted’s rages. His mood swings. And the precarious house of cards that their lifestyle is built upon. When Ted’s longtime assistant and mainstay leaves, the house of cards begins to crumble and Grace, with dark secrets in her past, is most vulnerable. She finds herself in need of help but with no one to turn to…until the perfect new assistant shows up out of the blue. To the rescue comes Beth, a competent young woman who can handle Ted and has the calm efficiency to weather the storms that threaten to engulf the Chapman household. Soon, though, it’s clear to Grace that Beth might be too good to be true. This new interloper might be the biggest threat of all, one that could cost Grace her marriage, her reputation, and even her sanity. With everything at stake and no one to confide in, Grace must find a way to save herself before it is too late.
Powerful and riveting, Jane Green’s Saving Grace will have you on the edge of your seat as you follow Grace on her harrowing journey to rock bottom and back.
Saving Grace by Jane Green is a thoroughly compelling novel that touches on a few relevant social issues. While not exactly a mystery, there are definitely suspense elements to storyline. Overall, I found it to be an intriguing psychological drama that is poignant and thought-provoking.
Grace and Ted Chapman have been married for twenty-five years and from the outside, their life looks perfect. Ted is a long time best-selling author while Grace is a successful chef and board member of a charity. However, behind closed doors, Grace walks on eggshells around her volatile and egotistical husband. When Ted’s personal assistant resigns, Grace finds it impossible to juggle the household chores with her career and the full-time job of placating her demanding husband. Needing a new assistant as soon as possible, Grace hurriedly hires Beth for the position and the Chapman household is running smoother than ever. Although Beth is soon indispensable to both Grace and Ted, something about Beth feels a little off to Grace. But before she can figure out what is bothering her about Beth, Grace’s life begins to spiral out of control.
At first, Grace is an exasperating and somewhat unsympathetic heroine. She is a bit of a doormat and the way she lets Ted treat her is very frustrating. Her kneejerk reaction to his mood swings has its roots in her childhood and she has never broken out of this dysfunctional pattern. While it seems implausible that she would grant Beth such easy access into every facet of their lives, Grace is so unorganized and overwhelmed that it is easy to believe she would be so trusting. And when Grace’s worst fears seem to be coming true, her insecurities and unresolved issues cause her to doubt herself and her instincts.
Ted is a completely unlikable character and despite Grace’s efforts to justify his behavior, there really is no excuse for how he treats everyone around him. He is very egocentric and this makes him an easy target for manipulation. Ted thoroughly falls under Beth’s spell, and he blindly follows wherever she leads him.
Beth’s plan is insidious and she exploits every weakness she can. It is unclear exactly what she hopes to gain for much of the story, but she seamlessly works her way into Grace’s life and then slowly and methodically undermines her self confidence. Once Grace is at her weakest, Beth plants seeds of doubt that quickly take root, leaving Grace vulnerable and at the mercy of the medical profession.
Saving Grace is written mostly in first person from Grace’s point of view. Her past is revealed through flashbacks and the shifts from past to present are easy to follow. The situation with Beth eventually makes Grace a somewhat unreliable narrator but this is an effective means of conveying her confusion and increasing desperation. There is also a bit of contradiction in her recounting of events yet this also lends credibility to her worsening mental state.
While Saving Grace is a little bit of a slow starter, it does not take long to become fully invested in the unfolding story. Grace turns into a likable character that is easy to root for and she does emerge from her ordeal a much stronger person. Jane Green does an excellent job portraying the very real danger of how easy it is to misdiagnose and overmedicate patients. All in all, it is a very fascinating story that has a realistic and mostly satisfying conclusion.