Title: Fields of Grace
Author: Wendy Waters
Publisher: Wendy Waters
Publication date: October 24, 2019
Genre: Biographical Fiction
It is September 23, 2009, and there is a dust storm in Sydney. But, Grace is from a family of pagans, so it is not only a dust storm for them. As the amber glow, which Grace calls the glowing, tangerine-colored fog, blankets the city, Grace Fieldgrill, now in her seventies, senses her time has come to die. The amber glow will want a sacrifice, and she is ready to give herself.
Grace believes the day she unlocks the trunk in the corner of her room, the spirit of John, her feu sacré or sacred flame, would come, as prophesied by her mother, to whisk her away. But, before she dies, she wants her son, Christian, to know the truth about his birth father and her granddaughter Samantha (Sam) to succeed in her career. These are affairs she must sort through before sunset. Grace commands Sam to unlock the trunk, and this is where our story begins.
“73-years is a long time to remain earthbound when you want to fly.”
I am not convinced Ms. Waters is not a poet. As with Catch the Moon Mary, Fields of Grace is full of poetic language and reads like a romantic love story and a historical fiction novel. When Sam opens the trunk and pulls out items, we follow Grace back to 1934, where she lives at the Wyncote House, a ladies-only establishment. The women of the house are hilarious. Although, Julia’s low self-esteem and constant complaints about not being pretty made me want to jump through the page and shake her.
As a history buff, I loved how the author used actual historical figures to interact with the fictional characters, which I love doing in my own writing. Sir John Gielgud was an English actor and theater director whose career spanned eight decades. And Peggy Ashcroft was an English stage actress who appeared in both classic and modern plays. Peggy and Gielgud’s relationship in the novel reminded me of brother and sister:
‘Our new thespian is rich, flings money like confetti at a wedding. A little flattery will grant me artistic freedom.’
‘Peg pushed my remaining ribbons aside and swiveled to face Mr. Gieldgud. ‘How rich?’
‘I knew that was all you heard.’Wendy Waters, Fields of Grace
The author also gives us updates on Hitler and the pending war and where the world stood on women’s rights at the time.
Some parts were so fun I found myself reading some of the lines aloud as if I was in a play. Here is a funny exchange between Peggy and Grace about a handsome man named Dashiell Tanner, who has just replaced another actor:
‘I think he has talent, don’t you?’
‘He’s incredibly handsome.’
‘He’s incredibly arrogant.’
‘So, you’re not in love with him?’
‘Do I sound like I’m in love with him?’Wendy Waters, Fields of Grace
You will learn the significance of this exchange when you read the book.
The story goes back and forth from past to present. I was worried about getting lost, but the author did this so well it was not confusing at all.
My only criticism is the book is very long, and it might be too much for readers with not a lot of time on their hands. (It took me a while to finish myself). Otherwise, I found Fields of Grace to be an exciting and entertaining read.
Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5
Entertainment Factor: 5/5
Authenticity / Believable: 4/5
Thought Provoking: 4/5