I found "Absence of Grace" very engaging. I started reading it under the hairdryer at my local salon, and after coming home and having dinner, I felt compelled to continue reading Ann Warner's latest novel until I completed the book around 2 a.m. the next morning. Part of the appeal was the realization that Clen,the protagonist,attended Marymead College in Mead,Kansas. I, as well as the author, attended Marymount College in Salina,Kansas during the same years as the protagonist. So I was keen to know if I might recognize some of the novel's characters or events that might have been a throwback to my memory of personal events experienced while at Marymount.
The subject matter of a divorced woman searching for a new life does not hold particular interest for me, as I am quite settled in with my life now. However, the universal appeal of the novel is found in observing Clen's growth in self-acceptance and the redemption that comes at the end of the book. As Clen came across as aloof and hard to reach throughout the first half of the book, I did not have much sympathy for her until her secret was revealed. The reader, knowing Clen's secret, rejoices when she is able to forgive herself and be open to a new level of truth and shared intimacy with another human being, namely Gerrum. Ann is skilled at descriptive writing; and I encourage her to do more of it. I enjoyed her descriptive visuals of the setting at Marymead and the characters in the book. I would encourage Ann to use even more description or occasionally a simple descriptive summary, in place of extended dialogues or the direct quotes,( such as in the chapter with the trial transcipt), to describe Hailey's childhood trauma and explain her relationship with Gerrum. Overall,I strongly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it to others!!