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Showing 1-10 of 112 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 143 reviews
on May 28, 2012
Just wanted you to know I had downloaded your book, Tender Graces, a few weeks ago but with my work schedule I could only read a short bit at a time until this weekend. I have relaxed today losing myself in your story so powerfully and wonderfully weaved that it threw me back into time surrounding me with raw emotions of a family life who has done their best - having qualities of sacrifice and selfishness, compassion and greed, love and loss, decisions and consequences, understand and resolution. Thank you for writing such a beautiful, heartfelt, and painful journey of a family's life.
K Meador
Author: Journey to Freedom
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on March 29, 2013
I am not looking forward to trying to express how I feel about this book. To me, it was two books within the same cover. Two for the price of one.

One side of the book was a description of three children growing up in two homes. One home was one where the sense of feeling loved was in short supply; the other was one where a substitute mother gave unconditioned love and the three kids were given a chance to experience abundant living. The other side of the book was a study of personalities and the circumstances that can either distort or strengthen the people involved. If you are left wondering how the title of the book applies to what you have read, I think the truth is you missed the second side of the book.

On the final page, the main character (Virginia Kate) lets the readers know that she has been released and set free. If the study of personalities has been unseen until then, that phrase awakens the realization that there is much more to the book than just that the simple tale. Thus, after you finish the book you will want moments to go back and explore what you think has been imprisoning her so that she needed to be set free. The truth is there – but you may have missed it. I enjoyed the book as much for making me think afterwards as for providing an interesting story as I actually turned the pages. Wow! I did not know I was capable of such a deep reaction.

I think the author did a great job of flushing out the characters and made them very realistic. Her writing style made the flow of the book very enjoyable, even though this is not a happy book. I am glad Virginia Kate felt set free in the end but I wonder if the rest of her life actually was more fulfilling.

As a native West Virginian who grew up in the same era as Virginia Kate’s mother, I must add a personal opinion that this dysfunctional family could easily have lived in another place and another time – the setting of the book did not create the problems they faced. Virginia Kate’s mother and father were mismatched and both sought escape in alcohol while their children paid the price.
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on July 14, 2012
I approach the free books Kindle offers with a willingness to be entertained but a general awareness that I may get what I paid for it. Tender Graces, by Kathryn Magendie, has been a delightful surprise and is worth far more than I paid for it. Not since I first read Pat Conroy's The Great Santini and Prince of Tides have I read such a conflicted portrait of a parent and their affect on their children. The portrait of the mother was vivid, honest, horrific at times and ultimately redemptive as the narrator traces the family's history in an attempt to understand and release the past. I spent the last 10% of the book reading through tears. I highly recommend this book. From the pull of West Virginia mountains to the heat, humidity and beauty of Louisianna, this book rapidly distinguished itself from the ranks of "mind candy" to a compassionate, but realistic view of what living with parents who married too young in an effort to escape their own families who then find comfort in and become enmeshed in alcohol while trying to live their dreams, can do to young bodies, hearts and minds.
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on August 26, 2014
This is a remarkable, haunting, complex story of a unique family with roots in West Virgia and Louisiana. The author expertly brings each character alive in your imagination as your heart becomes deeply enmeshed in their lives. Virginia Kate and her brothers experienced so much chaos and disruption in their young lives, but with the love and encouragment of Rebekha (Virginia Kate's step mother), neighbors, relatives and friends, the children managed to make it through to adulthood. This is so much more than a 'coming of age' story, it is rather a novel that delves into the heart and soul of the characters, and challenges the reader to ask, "now why on earth would she/he do that?" I thoroughly enjoyed the book and felt a little empty inside when I finished it. I look forward to reading more novels by Kathryn Magendie, she is truly a gifted writer!
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on June 9, 2011
I kept reading without a conscious sense that I had put everything else aside. However, this is not an urgent book. We are not captured, forced or coerced to continue reading. We are tenderly drawn in to the flow of time. The present moment is very much a character, even when the past is being recounted. Possessions from the past are keys that open rooms holding scenes from the narrator's childhood. Picture frames mean as much as the picture framed.

"Tender Graces" is a type of ghost story. The ghosts are very real in the narrator's memory. It is more that lost moments of life are the real ghosts in the tale. The reader may feel themselves to be a ghostly presence while engaged in the story.

This is a "southern novel" and carries many of the tropes of the genre, but these are spun in a unique way that allows you to float through the remembrances of the protagonist Virginia Kate.

Particularly enjoyable is the voice of Virginia Kate as a young girl. We see her truth through the descriptions and exaggerations of things and events. There is an openness to her in her youth. The story is not told so much as flashback. Rather we get an occasional flash forward to the consequences of the events of the past.

No judgment is made by the story. There is no attempt to excuse or rationalize. The characters simply act, interact and deal with their challenges and emotions. We see the story through Virginia Kate's eyes, but she is a shrewd observer of others even if she does not always fully comprehend what she is observing. Everyone has a very clear point of view. These are real people and none of them flawless.

This is a sensory novel. Images are soft, yet clear, like beloved memories whose details grow hazy over a lifetime. Scent plays an important role in the narrative flow, more so than sound. It is a quiet world the characters inhabit. Even during arguments, Virginia Kate allows us to shut out the noises in the same way she and her brothers do. We are protected to some degree and treated tenderly.

At the end we find we know little about the characters' adult existence. Some details are revealed, but they are only facts, not the feelings we have been sharing with each other throughout the story. What we know is that they grew and survived and maintained a true tender feeling for one another. This left me wanting more. In a way that may be the grace of the tale; no matter what has gone before, life can offer you more.
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on March 10, 2012
Kathryn Magendie's novel, Tender Graces, reminds me of that famous line from the Sting song, "If you love somebody, set them free."

Tender Graces is more than a story of the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters. It is the story of a young girl named Virginia Kate, who overcomes great obstacles to discover who she is. Above all it is a story that teaches valuable lessons about what constitutes a family.

The presence of ghosts is a recurring theme as almost all of the characters are haunted by the past. In some cases, the ghosts represent the pain of a wrenching decision. In other cases, the ghosts are actions the characters cannot take back.

Spanning an entire generation, Tender Graces is set in the mountains of West Virginia and the muggy and wet terrain of Louisiana. The story begins with the courtship and quick marriage of Virginia Kate's mother, Katie Ivene Holm, to Frederick Carey, a Shakespeare-quoting traveling salesman. Katie's mom, Grandma Faith, sees Frederick as the best hope for her daughter to escape a future of poverty and abuse, so she sets her free. Life with Frederick isn't much better, though. His drinking and womanizing cause Katie to hit the bottle herself. Three children come in rapid succession: Micha, Virginia Kate, and Andy.

Magendie skillfully uses images such as the ice hitting the glass, shouting behind closed doors, and Virginia Kate taking refuge in the closet to dramatize the pain the children endure. The couple divorces and Frederick moves to Texas and then to Louisiana, where he marries Rebekha. When Virginia Kate first meets Rebekha, she wants nothing to do with her. Eventually, Frederick takes all three children, one by one, from his ex-wife, whose life continues on a downward spiral.

Rebekha's relationship with Virginia Kate provides some of the more heartwarming moments in the novel. Virginia Kate comes to see Rebekha as a mother figure and Rebekha gives her love unconditionally to all three children. When Virginia Kate returns to West Virginia to nurse her mother back to health after a serious car accident, her mother sends her away again. It is not an act of rejection, but an act of love. Like her mother before her, Katie Ivene knows she must set her daughter free.

Magendie's prose has a simple elegance. She uses imagery and setting to underscore the themes of the story. This is a touching family saga that I highly recommend.
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on April 25, 2017
Enjoyed the wonderful setting sand storyline. True to life. I was able to envision the whole story. Thank you for the southern charm.
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on June 29, 2011
West Virginia has never been a place on my "to-visit" list. I'm sure everyone can say they've heard some joke or another regarding the state, and while I can appreciate that it has its beauty (according to pictures I've seen), it's just always seemed to me a place where sadness and depression would be.

While Tender Graces doesn't debunk that thought of mine, necessarily, it also provides perspective and sheds light on it. In spite of the sadness and depression (which is present everywhere), there's beauty and hope and magic in that place - and that's what the main character, Virginia Kate, finds through this story.

Virginia Kate's mother is beautiful - too beautiful for her own good. And as the years pass, Virginia Kate and her brothers watch their parents marriage crumble and new people are introduced to their lives, including a step-mama. And folks, let me just say I was prepared to hate this woman right along with Virginia Kate - but Rebeckah became, by far, the most dynamic, amazing character in the book for me.

Kathryn Magendie provides beautiful, heart-wrenching emotions through the characters in this book that had me weeping along with them and hoping against hope that everything would turn out okay for them. Set this against a backdrop of beauty, described by some beautiful writing, and it's a southern story that embodies the very essence of a state that is poorly represented by most print that I've read.
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on May 19, 2010
I downloaded this novel FREE from Kindle. Often, you get what you pay for in such deals. This, is quite the exception. TENDER GRACES offers a glimpse not only into raw, southern culture. But, it exposes characters in such a way it forces the reader to yearn for more.

I initially downloaded because of the reference to West Virginia. I am a proud resident of this beautiful state. I hoped that this novel would represent WV well. Though so many moments about country life were bleak and dismal, I will say Magendie provided a perfect juxaposition between both weak and strong female characters.

I was so proud that Magendie made certain to educate readers that so many of the stereotypes placed on WV are false. However, we are an area plaqued with poverty and this theme of resurection from social imprisonment comes forth with eloquent language and gripping characterization.

The characters come alive in the reader's mind. Every reader can probably relate each character to someone in his or her own life. I wept, laughed, and walked down memory lane while reading this little gift. Before purchasing from Amazon, I always like to read the reviews. I hope that this review encourages WV readers to support an author illustrating our area with truth and flawlessness!
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on April 17, 2014
Though Tender Graces is about a dysfunctional family Kathryn Magendie writes with a smooth style that carried me through the ordeal. The evil character's in this book self destruct and I didn't care. Virginia Kate the young daughter is molded into a character of strength compassion and empathy beyond the years of what a child should have to endure. Her two brothers are given some of the same character strengths in the ways they handled the abuse and neglect, but they still acted differently. The good mother in law was a pleasant surprise and helped to offset the alcoholic father. This book is a very effective story in motion. Loved it. Marshall L Dell
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