When Grace Went Away by Meredith Appleyard. (2020).
**3.5 out of 5 stars**
**Thank you to Harlequin Australia for sending me a free advance readers copy of this novel; published 18 May 2020**
Financial analyst Grace describes her family as functionally dysfunctional. They live in the small farming community of Miners Ridge and all of them hold anger, resentment and petty jealousies after a tragedy shatters them. Grace tries to keep everyone in touch but now she’s moving to London so will need to take a step back. She manages to make a connection with Aaron, a Miners Ridge landscaper, before she leaves…Meanwhile, Grace’s mother Sarah has been pulled back to the town after fleeing it 8 years ago. While trying to rebuild family relationships, she uncovers a long-kept secret that could change everything. Can all of the family find a way to heal?
The thing that I liked most about this novel was that the family felt believable and realistic with their issues both serious and petty. The sibling and parental relationships were a mix of love and frustration. Where it fell slightly flat for me was that I found Grace’s personality to be quite exasperating at times; I can’t quite put my finger on it to be honest but she irritated me. Actually the whole family all kind of irritated me. They all felt just slightly over the top in their respective attitudes to me. Putting that aside, there are some quite moving parts of this story particularly the relationship growth between Grace’s mother and sister (Sarah and Faith). There was a big secret that I guessed almost immediately and I feel most readers would; not sure if that was intentional or not. All of the reviews on Goodreads at the time of writing this indicate that people are really getting into this book.
Overall: an enjoyable domestic drama that I think a lot of readers would like.