Excerpt from Grace by Paul Lynch, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio


by Paul Lynch

Grace by Paul Lynch X
Grace by Paul Lynch
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jul 2017, 368 pages
    Jun 2018, 368 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Zoë Fairtlough
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Then Sarah moves quick, takes a fist of the girl's hair to lay bare the porcelain of her throat, brings up the knife.

All the things you can see in a moment. She thinks, there is truth after all to Colly's story. She thinks, the last you will see of Mam is her shadow. She thinks, take with you a memory of all this. A sob loosens from the deepest part and sings itself out.

What she meets is the autumn of her long hair. It falls in swoons, falls a glittering of evening colors, her hair spun with failing sunlight. She sobs at the pain in her scalp as her mother yanks and cuts. Sobs as her hair falls in ribbons. Her eyes closed to their inner stars. When she opens them again her mother has circled her. Colly on his knees holding fistfuls of hair. The wind-cold licking bitter at her bare neck. She raises her hands and puts them dumb to what's left of her head, her mother stepping in front of her, the knife going into the dress. Sarah looks frustrated, breathless, wan and exhausted, the skin on her throat beginning to hang loose as if to wear it well requires effort she has not within her. Her collarbone a brooch of banished beauty. She rests her hands on her seven-month swell, bolds up her voice to her daughter. What she says.

You are the strong one now.

The shard of looking glass holds the world in snatches. She snares the cloud-tangled sun and bends it towards her feet. They are long and narrow feet and though unshod are unmistakably hers — as delicate as any girl's, elegantly formed, she thinks, and if you washed the dirt you would see beneath the nails a perfect rose-pink. She is proud of her slender ankles, not swollen like Mam's. The knobbly jut of knee with its moony scar. She turns and reflects the sun towards the back of Colly's head, the boy in a sulk, snorting fumes from his clay pipe. She hears the padding of speedy feet inside and then a child falling, knows from the cry it is the youngest, Bran. Colly muttering a curse, then getting up in a flop when the crying does not cease. She cannot bear to look at her head. Swings the looking glass to see gossamer strung between two rocks — a cobweb that swings a gentle arc on the breeze and the way it pulses light makes it seem alive with the sun. She reaches her finger and severs it, wipes what sticks off the rags of her skirt. If her finger were a blade it would be as sharp and pointed as her hate. She thinks, the things I would do with it.

Movement by the door. She angles the looking glass so she can see her mother step out of the house with her red shawl, a fisherman catching a shoal of daylight as she swings it over her shoulders. Sarah pulls a chair to the middle of the road, sighs, sits red-faced as if awaiting somebody — awaiting Boggs, Grace thinks — Sarah's hands fumbling on her lap. She sighs again, then stands and steps wordless into the house, emerges with the ash pin and fastens it to her shawl, sits down on the chair. No one dares talk when Sarah is like this, though Colly and Grace keep their eyes fixed on her. She knows that Colly sees the makings of a witch in his mother, wants to lay her cold with his fist. She watches the way her mother sits watching the road on top of the hill, pokes her eyes into the holes of Sarah's dirt-white skirt, each hole as wide as two or three fingers. The way the skirt fans down from the waist like the warped pleat of a melodeon. And then, for a moment, she sees her mother as someone different, thinks that by seeing Sarah in the looking glass she can see her truly as she is — a woman who might once have been young and wears a glimmer of it still. The way this fifth pregnancy is graying her. And then like light the awareness passes and she grabs hold of her hate.

  • 1
  • 2

Excerpted from Grace Copyright © 2017 by Paul Lynch Used with permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Great Hunger

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Lost Apothecary
    The Lost Apothecary
    by Sarah Penner
    Sarah Penner's debut novel The Lost Apothecary was rated 4 or 5 stars by 22 of our 23 First ...
  • Book Jacket: The Spymaster of Baghdad
    The Spymaster of Baghdad
    by Margaret Coker
    For the last 17 years, the country of Iraq has known almost constant violence and political upheaval...
  • Book Jacket: Hades, Argentina
    Hades, Argentina
    by Daniel Loedel
    Daniel Loedel's debut novel, Hades, Argentina, opens in 1986 when we meet Tomás Orillo, a young...
  • Book Jacket: Dark Horses
    Dark Horses
    by Susan Mihalic
    Dark Horses is a shocking, heart-pounding debut; it's both a coming-of-age novel and an unflinching ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    by Russell Shorto

    Family secrets emerge as a best-selling author dives into the history of the mob in small-town America.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    The Lost Apothecary
    by Sarah Penner

    A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Narrowboat Summer
by Anne Youngson
From the author of Meet Me at the Museum, a charming novel of second chances.
Win This Book!
Win Band of Sisters

Band of Sisters
by Lauren Willig

"A crackling portrayal of everyday American heroines…A triumph."
— Fiona Davis



Solve this clue:

W T's Life T's H

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.