Grace After Henry
by Eithne Shortall
Grace sees her boyfriend Henry everywhere. In the supermarket, on the street, at the graveyard.
Only Henry is dead. He died two months earlier, leaving a huge hole in Grace’s life and in her heart. But then Henry turns up to fix the boiler one evening, and Grace can’t decide if she’s hallucinating or has suddenly developed psychic powers. Grace isn’t going mad – the man in front of her is not Henry at all, but someone else who looks uncannily like him. The hole in Grace’s heart grows ever larger.
Grace becomes captivated by this stranger, Andy – to her, he is Henry, and yet he is not. Reminded of everything she once had, can Grace recreate that lost love with Andy, resurrecting Henry in the process, or does loving Andy mean letting go of Henry?
“We get one life, but there’s more than one path”
When Henry Walsh dies, his partner Grace is left to pick up the pieces of her life. Henry was her forever and she’s not sure how she’s ever going to fix the huge hole that he’s left in her heart. With the support of her best friend Aoife, she moves into the home they should have been sharing and starts to try and rebuild her life.
I really enjoyed the conversational style of writing, particularly the Irish humour and dialect throughout. The friendship between Grace and Aoife was realistic and fun and I also enjoyed Grace’s relationship with her 80-year-old neighbour Betty.
The story is mostly told from Grace’s perspective but a couple of other characters get their own chapters too. I was particularly fond of the bittersweet flashbacks to Grace and Henry’s relationship, especially in the early days. I found all of the characters to be colourful, likeable and realistic and I was impressed at how well constructed their backgrounds and relationships between all of them were. There are a couple of twists to keep you engaged and while they’re probably not going to blow your mind, they definitely make for an interesting story.
This is a story of grief but it isn’t overly sad. It’s beautifully written and is more focused on hope, second chances and the prospect of finding happiness after moments of darkness.
I did find the story to be a little long, but that’s my only criticism. I really enjoyed this read and would recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction and chick-lit. This is my second read by this author and I’ll definitely be checking out her other work soon.
Overall rating: “Grace After Henry” is a heartbreaking yet uplifting story of love, loss and grief and it’s one that I really enjoyed. I love Eithne Shortall‘s style of writing and felt truly immersed in the story. I’d definitely recommend it! 4 stars!
See my other reviews of books by Eithne Shortall here: