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The Third Grace Kindle Edition

15 customer reviews

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Length: 306 pages

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From the Author

The Third Grace won the 2012 Grace Irwin Award, a prestigious Canadian prize recognizing the top pick across the country of books submitted to the contest put on by The Word Guild.

Product Details

  • File Size: 604 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Greenbrier Book Company (November 18, 2011)
  • Publication Date: November 18, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,393,578 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

I once stood in the golden sunlight filtering through the courtyard windows of the Louvre Museum in Paris, transfixed by the life-sized marble statue grouping elevated before me. "The Three Graces" (by James Pradier) celebrates the mythological "charites," Greek goddesses presiding over the arts--over garden and banquet, music and dance and costume. As I gazed up at their rounded bellies and dimpled buttocks, pearly grey skin denting under mutual caresses, I almost smelled the heat of their flesh, almost heard them asking, "May we throw our spell around you, beautify you as we clothed the very gods?" I could sense their infinite waiting, triplets frozen in stone for all time, three persons chiseled from one substance. They were a tri-unity of personhood.

And I knew I had found the icon for my debut, award-winning novel. THE THIRD GRACE is set in the contrasting locales of Parisian street and Nebraskan farmyard, and incorporates Greek mythology and aesthetics with the personal search for self.

This quintessential moment of discovery in France was a delightful interjection in the more domestic flow of my life in Canada. I grew up a city-slicker in Winnipeg, fell in love and married an introverted Saskatchewan cowboy, and moved from my bright lights to his isolated cattle ranch far off in the prairie grasslands. Still--amidst learning to ride horseback and fly a light aircraft, sewing for a costume rental store, raising and home-educating three kids, and cooking for branding crews of a hundred--I graduated with a B.A. in Communications from Bethel University (St. Paul, Minn.) and more recently earned an M.A. in Theology from Briercrest Seminary (Sask.).

Out of this research, I discovered the enigmatic fiction of G.K. Chesterton and read into it the author's underlying theology. This produced my second book, a nonfiction literary analysis that acts as an introduction to the late-Victorian writer and his spiritual way of thinking. My writing of ROOTS AND BRANCHES: THE SYMBOL OF THE TREE IN THE IMAGINATION OF G.K. CHESTERTON continues to help me understand how symbolism can help clarify and retell timeless truths that never go out of fashion.

I now live with my husband on the banks of a lovely creek in the rolling hills of southern Alberta, a stone's throw from the Montana border, where I write to my heart's content (between magical vacations in Europe, South America, Africa, the Orient . . .). Expect another novel from me soon.


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Violet Nesdoly on November 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
There is much to like in The Third Grace, Deb Elkink's debut novel.

The plot has main character Aglaia Klassen forsaking her Mennonite past for the trendy arts scene of Denver. She's romantically available--yet not because she can't forget her childhood sweetheart Francois, the French exchange student who lived with her family the summer she was seventeen. She secretly hopes to find him on her business trip to Paris and ask him a few questions about that crossroads summer.

Well-realized characters make the book a delight. Lou is a devious college prof who we don't trust from the minute we meet her. Eb, Aglaia's boss at the costume shop, is an eccentric, wise, father-figure and my personal favorite. Francois, the charming, lascivious student from the past plays a large role through Aglaia's memories. Aglaia's Mennonite parents ring true, with their homespun sensibilities, their ethnic cuisine, and their Plautdietsch-inflected speech. Finally there's Aglaia herself--talented and ambitious, yet idealistic, wistful, and conflicted in the way she continues to carry the torch for her teenage sweetheart.

Elkink's writing--always strong--is drop-dead gorgeous in places. Consider, for example, snippet from early in the book where Aglaia and Lou are sharing a nightcap in Agalai's apartment:

"Aglaia angled her glass and looked into its blood-red interior. Wine was a symbol of communion, she thought, and she was using it with carnal deliberation to seal this relationship that had so much to offer her" p. 12.

Elkink seems as comfortable describing Aglaia's fall from faith as she is a Paris bistro, or a child-lively kitchen. Her literary forays are thought-provoking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Writerchick on December 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
The daughter of hard-working Mennonite farmers, Mary Grace's life takes a dramatic turn at the age of 17 when a French exchange student visits her family's Nebraska farm and skillfully weaves his way into her heart. Using Greek mythology to woo her, Francois upsets Mary Grace's childlike faith with his fanciful pagan tales. When he is unceremoniously sent packing, Mary Grace's heart goes with him, and she turns away from God.

Now fifteen years later, Mary Grace, who has legally changed her name to Aglaia and moved to Denver to pursue a new life and career, has the opportunity to visit France through her employer. She is determined to find Francois and reconnect with him, or at least bring closure to the story of their youthful love, since her remembrance of him and obsession with him has stopped her from opening up to any other man or developing transparent relationships. Aglaia's mother, Tina, wants her to find Francois for another reason - to return to him the Bible he left at the farm, in the margins of which he had made notations whose meanings she does not understand.

As Aglaia reads through the notations she remembers that summer of love, all that happened in it, and how it changed her forever.

At a recent meeting of one of my writers' critique groups, I was admonished for the level of vocabulary apparent in my work, and told that the "rule" is to write at a fifth grade level. Deb Elkink breaks that rule entirely - no fifth grade level readers here, please. The language is elevated, and I think you have to have an intense interest in Greek mythology as well. (I took a Greek and Roman mythology course in university, and still the content in this book was a bit too much for me.
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Format: Paperback
Mary Grace Klassen's parents love their family and Nebraska farm. They love their Mennonite faith even more. They study the Bible, attend church regularly, and avoid the wickedness of the world.

Family, farm, and faith are not important to Mary Grace, the main character in the novel The Third Grace by Deb (Neufeld) Elkink. Actually Mary Grace sees family, farm, and faith as a three-fold stone she's forced to roll up the mountain of life. In that respect she's like Sisyphus of Greek mythology.

It's Francois, an exchange student from Paris, who first stirs in Mary Grace the desire to break free of family, farm, and faith. A teenager at the time, she regards Francois as the epitome of sophistication and sexual attraction.

His tales of Greek gods and goddesses thrill her. She's especially intrigued by stories of The Three Graces, mythic goddesses of life's pleasures such as play, rest, amusement, happiness, and relaxation. Mary Grace identifies so strongly with one of the Graces that she takes her name, Aglaia.

The smooth-talking Francois is about to relieve Aglaia of her virginity, with her encouragement, when her brother finds them. A faithful Mennonite, he defends his sister's virtue by wrestling Francois away from her.

One might think this event would shame Aglaia, prompting her to repent and return to her faith. It doesn't. Even Francois's disgrace in the eyes of her family and his abrupt departure don't affect her that way.

As soon as she can, she leaves the farm and moves to Denver. There she finds work as a costume designer. She loves the job, which lets her implement and develop her considerable creative abilities. However, she remains stuck in a time warp spiritually and psychologically.
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