Simon and Schuster, Great Britain, 2019
This debut novel by Anstey Harris has won itself a Women’s Weekly Great Read sticker in Australia, not easily come by I gather. It charts the vicissitudes in the life of forty-ish Grace, a fine instrument maker and musician.
The intricacies of instrument making run parallel with the tangled web of Grace’s love life, a long running affair with a married man conducted across continents and with perhaps predictably dire consequences.
The people of books always interest me and I do like Anstey Harris’s choice of an elderly gay man and a fiery teenager as the co-travellers for our heroine. She is aided in many ways by these two contrasting and intertwined relationships. We are privy to the insecurities and hurts of our main protagonist –and to a journey of painful self-discovery, that never descends into melodrama.
It would be churlish to other readers to reveal too much of the unfolding plot, and so suffice it to say that the realism and non-romanticism of the endpoints is satisfying. The writing is also satisfying, dropping us gently into passages of description but at the same time sweeping us along at a suitable pace for the story’s constantly evolving plot.