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Saving Grace by Jane Green

Saving Grace (original 2014; edition 2015)

by Jane Green (Author)

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3062962,123 (3.44)4
Grace and Ted Chapman. Literary power couple. Ted is considered "the thinking man's John Grisham" and Grace, his wife of twenty years is beautiful, stylish, carefree. All of this is on the surface. Beneath, what no one sees, 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. To the rescue comes Beth, a new assistant. Someone who will help handle Ted. Someone who has the calm efficiency to weather the storms that threaten to engulf their household. Soon, though, it's clear to Grace that Beth might be too good to be true. And that this new interloper might be the biggest threat of all, one that could cost Grace her marriage, her reputation, and even her sanity.… (more)
Title:Saving Grace
Authors:Jane Green (Author)
Info:Griffin (2015), Edition: Reprint, 380 pages
Collections:Your library

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Saving Grace by Jane Green (2014)

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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
A good enough tale, but rather painfully obvious. I read about half, skipped to the end, then ditched it. If you want reassurance that you do/don't have a mental illness, and that American doctors will gaily diagnose in order to prescribe, carry on... ( )
  sarahemmm | May 25, 2020 |
4.5 stars.

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. ( )
  kbranfield | Feb 3, 2020 |
2.5 stars (Note: rating listed on site may differ depending on whether the site allows half star ratings)

Normally I save ratings below 3 stars for books that are so horrible that I don't finish them, but I couldn't in good conscious give this book a 3 star rating. I do have to say that some of the inconsistencies noted in the questions (number of children etc.) were not ones I noticed while reading, but there were others I did wonder about. (I do think this is the first book by this author that I've read.)

WARNING: Spoilers may be included in remainder of review. Read on at your own discretion

Grace's mother probably had a mental illness--or perhaps more than one. Since she's dead and all we have are Grace's recollections, we can only speculate. It also allows the author to get in the info. that English people don't run to the doctor like we do here in the US. I have no idea if that's true. I don't know if that was just Grace's perception based on her mother not wanting to go to the doctor . . . I do know that it is common for bipolar sufferers to take medication and then feel better and think they no longer need the medication, so they stop taking it and eventually spiral back into the disease. I've also heard several descriptions that the medications made the takers feel "dead" or stifles creativity.

I'm surprised that Grace doesn't recognize Ted's abuse. She suffered it growing up and she works with abused women rehabbing at Hartwood House--yet she seems to have no clue. Ellen, who's supposedly been with them for years, also seems to have no clue how Ted treats Grace? I'm having trouble buying that. If she's been with them for that long, there must have been some points where one or the other slipped up--enough times for Ellen to have noticed it and remark on it--or at least wonder.

I can understand Grace worrying she'll end up like her mom. I can also understand her reluctance to talk about it and her worrying that if people know, they will treat her differently.

I spent the first part of the book thinking Grace needs to grow a backbone and stand up to her husband rather than just deny it happens or try to avoid the conflict. Ellen and Sybil are both able to "manage" him which suggests it can be done, that he can be reasonable. Actually, I spent the first part of the book wondering if Ted was the one who needed medication.

I did like that Grace felt serious about the vows of her marriage--but when abuse comes into play, it is time to walk out. Sometimes the relationship can still be saved if the abuser is willing to change and if both are willing to take the time to make sure the change is real and true. I think that might have been the case for Ted based on the ending of the book. I don't know if he took Grace for granted or if Grace overreacted to what might be normal marital spats because of her history or if he was just self-absorbed enough to not realize what he was doing to her.

Even after she's forced to leave him, Grace still seems to want him back as her husband--I think right up until the time she tries to talk to him at the coffeeshop and he refuses to see Beth's true motives.

I like that Grace had true friends--Sybil and Lydia. I like that Clemmie and her mother had a good relationship.

I can understand how Beth wormed her way into their lives. She does have a good con. Come in, make yourself useful and eventually indispensable to the family, learn their weak spots and exploit them, make yourself over into the image of the wife--but a younger version who "understands" all the while planting hints about problems the wife has so that eventually the wife is discredited and Beth steps in to become the woman of the house--at least until all the money and fame is gone. Apparently Beth doesn't learn that fame and fortune are fleeting, especially if you spend indiscriminately--but then again, I guess she always figures there's a new mark out there somewhere that she can start over again.

I'm not sure what to think about Dr. Ellery--I'd like to think he was really trying to help Beth and was just led down the wrong path by Ted and by Beth and by Grace's family history. I don't mind so much that he put Grace on medication--I do think Grace suffers from depression at least--but he didn't seem to do many tests to find out what her hormone levels were or suggest she see a regular physician, and he did seem to ignore her complaints about the medications he did prescribe--being so exhausted she can't get out of bed (I could see this short term, but it seemed to go on much longer than a side effect should and I feel he should have changed the dosage of the medication or changed her medications instead of just prescribing other ones to try to offset the side effects), being ravenously hungry to the point that she gains 40 pounds in a few months (we aren't told much about her body type before but unless she was grossly underweight, I don't think that's a usual weight gain). I'm glad Lydia gets her to a more sensible doctor.

I did not like that the author had Beth and Ted having a fling when Ted is married, but it was part of the plot so if that had been the only one, I could probably have accepted it for what it was. But the author also has Grace have an affair with Patrick while in England recovering--even though at this point, Grace is supposedly still planning to go back to her marriage with Ted once he recognizes what Beth is. Clemmie and Luke also live together without being married. I think Patrick and Grace live together when she returns to England after deciding that Ted is no longer what she wants out of life. I can't totally fault Grace for divorcing Ted--he was abusive, and though he seems to have changed, we don't see enough of that after Beth leaves him to know if it was true change or not--he also had an affair with Beth then tried to paint his wife as a lying, hallucinating, abusive woman when she discovered them together--he also refused to believe that Beth could do any wrong when Grace tried to tell him at the coffeeshop. (I also wondered why Grace didn't tell him that his publisher and long-time editor had both tried to tell him the book needed more work when both had told her this but apparently Beth had withheld the news from him and told him all was well with the book. It would have been another piece of evidence to give him--though I doubt he would have heard it at the time.)

I'm not clear on whether Beth used the bad book as a deliberate exit strategy or if she truly didn't know any better. I thought the author got the publishing world being in a downward spiral right. Though many formerly successful authors are still allowed to publish books that I don't consider very good just because their name on the cover sells books. Was Beth so blinded by Ted's past success that she truly didn't know the book he'd written was bad? Was she so smitten with him that she thought anything he did was brilliant? Did she think his readers would buy it because his name was on the cover and not care about the contents? Did she think the bad book would further alienate him from those he knew in the publishing world, leaving him more dependent on her than he currently was? Or did she know the money was drying up and figure it was a good way to get out while the getting was good? This last is disputed because it seems Grace has to point out to Beth the ways of the publishing world--that likely there wouldn't be any more contracts or advances and if there were, the amounts would be piddly. I'm not sure about royalties but those might be piddly by that point too. ( )
  JenniferRobb | Nov 3, 2019 |
Grace is a seemingly strong character who, nevertheless, is a failure at the basics of running a household while her successful author husband is equally as inept. Their life seems idyllic to outsiders but, at home, Grace walks on eggshells to prevent her husband's verbally abusive outbursts. When their long-time assistant must quit, their lives are in disarray. Grace hires an assistant who is "perfect" but soon there are signs that she really is too good to be true. Grace finds her way of life, her marriage, and her sanity threatened.

the often flippant way a diagnosis of a serious psychological condition is made and the overuse of psychotropic medicines,which in themselves can create side effects that look like psychiatric problems was a theme that is very timely is our society , and one Green herself has dealt with

Grace family history is one of chaos and mental illness and she fears she's following in her mother's footsteps. Her confidence and belief in herself is destroyed, and she must do some soul-searching to create a life where she can find contentment and peace. Ultimately, the only person who can save Grace is Grace herself. With a little help from the motherly Lydia and her best friend Sybil. How it happens forms the basis of the tension in the novel.

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.” – Publisher Summary I found the book a pleasant read that dealt with some serious topics but I found it neither riveting or powerful and I wasn't on the edge of my seat. There were some plot developments that were improbable, some were predictable, and too many strings were left hanging.

Still, fans of women's fiction and Jane Green will likely find much to like. ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
I started and stopped this book a few times, not because of the book but because I was listening to it and my car CD player died. That said, I now have a new car so I'm on the road again in more ways than one. Jane Green is one of my favorite authors and did not disappoint me with Saving Grace. Grace's story flows smoothly and is one of self empowerment. This book is literally about saving Grace.... ( )
  whybehave2002 | Nov 2, 2016 |
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Grace and Ted Chapman. Literary power couple. Ted is considered "the thinking man's John Grisham" and Grace, his wife of twenty years is beautiful, stylish, carefree. All of this is on the surface. Beneath, what no one sees, 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. To the rescue comes Beth, a new assistant. Someone who will help handle Ted. Someone who has the calm efficiency to weather the storms that threaten to engulf their household. Soon, though, it's clear to Grace that Beth might be too good to be true. And that this new interloper might be the biggest threat of all, one that could cost Grace her marriage, her reputation, and even her sanity.

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