The Saving Graces: A Novel

The Saving Graces: A Novel

by Patricia Gaffney


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Meet the Saving Graces, four of the best friends a woman could ever have.

For ten years, Emma, Rudy, Lee, and Isabel have shared a deep affection that has helped them deal with the ebb and flow of expectations and disappointments common to us all. Calling themselves the Saving Graces, the quartet is united by understanding, honesty, and acceptance — a connection that has grown stronger as the years go by.

Though these sisters of the heart and soul have seen it all, talked through it all, they are not prepared for the crisis of astounding proportions that will put their love and courage to the ultimate test.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060598327
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/30/2004
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 356,848
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Patricia Gaffney's novels include The Goodbye Summer, Flight Lessons, and The Saving Graces. She and her husband currently live in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


If half of all marriages end in divorce, how long does the average marriage last? This isn't a math problem; I'd really like to know. I bet it's less than nine and a half years. That's how long the Saving Graces have been going strong, and we're not even getting restless. We still talk, still notice things about each other, weight loss, haircuts, new boots. As far as I know, nobody's looking around for a younger, firmer member.

Truthfully, I never thought we'd last this long. I only joined because Rudy made me. The other three, Lee, Isabel, and -- Joan? Joanne? She didn't last; moved to Detroit with her urologist boyfriend, and we didn't keep up -- the other three didn't strike me at that first meeting as bosom buddy material, frankly. I thought Lee was bossy and Isabel was old -- thirty-nine. Well, I'll be forty next year, enough said there, and Lee is bossy, but she can't help it because she's always right. She really is, and it's a tribute to her exceptional nature that we don't all loathe her for it.

The first meeting went badly. We had it at Isabel's house -- this was back when she was still married to Gary. God, these people are straight, I remember thinking. Straight and rich, that's what really got me -- but I'd just moved into a dank little basement apartment in Georgetown for eleven hundred a month because of the address, so I was a little touchy about money. Lee looked as if she'd just come from spa day at Neiman's. Plus she was single, still in graduate school, and teaching special ed. part-time -- you know how much money there is in that -- and yet she lived around the block from Isabel in snooty Chevy Chase, in ahouse she wasn't renting but owned. Naturally I had it in for these people.

All the way home I explained to Rudy, with much wit and sarcasm and disdain, what was wrong with everybody, and why I couldn't possibly join a women's group whose members owned electric hedge trimmers, wore Ellen Tracy, remembered Eisenhower, dated urologists. "But they're nice," Rudy insisted. Which, of course, missed the point. Lots of people are nice, but you don't want to have dinner with them every other Thursday and exchange secrets.

The other thing was jealousy. I was small enough to mind that Rudy had a good friend other than me. One night a week she and Lee volunteered to teach reading to inner-city illiterates, and had gotten to know each other during the training. I never worried, then or now, that they would become best friends; I mean, if ever there were two people with nothing in common, it's Lee and Rudy. But I was my old insecure self (then and now), and too neurotic to recognize the potential beauty of the Saving Graces even when it was staring me in the face.

We weren't the Saving Graces yet, of course. Even now, we don't go around calling ourselves that in public. It's corny; it sounds like a TV sitcom. Doesn't it? "The Saving Graces," starring Valerie Bertinelli, Susan Dey, and Cybill Shepherd. Notice these are all attractive, smart, funny women who happen to be a little long in the tooth. Anyway, the genesis of our name is a private matter. Not for any particular reason -- it's kind of funny, and it reflects well on us all. But we just don't talk about it. It's personal.

We were driving back from dinner at a restaurant in Great Falls (we eat out when the person whose turn it is doesn't feel like cooking), taking the long way because Rudy missed the Beltway turnoff. We'd been a group for about a year by then; we'd just lost Joan/Joanne but hadn't yet acquired Marsha, transient member number two, so it was just the four of us. I was sitting in the back seat. Rudy turned around to catch my impersonation of the waitress, who we all thought looked and sounded just like Emma Thompson. Isabel yelled, "Look out!" and a split second later we hit the dog.

I can still see the expression on that yellow mutt face in the instant before the fender caught her on the shoulder and flipped her over the hood of Rudy's Saab -- quizzical, curious, just mildly concerned. As if she were thinking, "Well, hm, isn't this interesting."

Everybody screamed. I kept saying, "It's dead, it's dead, it's got to be dead," while Rudy jerked the car off the pavement. To tell the truth, if I'd been driving by myself, I might've kept going: I was sure it was dead, and I didn't want to see. When I was twelve I ran over a frog with my bike, and I'm still not over it. But Rudy killed the engine and everybody piled out, so I had to get out with them.

It wasn't dead. But we didn't know that until Lee suddenly metamorphosed, right there on MacArthur Boulevard, into Cherry Ames, Highway Nurse. Have you ever seen a human being give CPR to a dog? It's funny, but only in retrospect. While it's happening it's sort of thrilling and revolting, like something that's still illegal in most of New England. Rudy whipped off her black cashmere cloak, which I have always coveted, and wrapped it around the dog because Lee said it was going into shock. "A vet, we need a vet," Isabel fretted, but there wasn't a house in sight, no store, no nothing except a darkened church on the other side of the road. Isabel jumped up and waved her arms at a car coming on our side. When it pulled over, she ran up and had a conversation with the driver. I stood there and wrung my hands.

The Saving Graces. Copyright © by Patricia Gaffney. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Nora Roberts

Patricia Gaffney paints a vivid portrait of four very different women and the bonds between them. Friendship with its compassion and impatience, love with its powers and weaknesses, life with its triumphs and failures are brilliantly voiced through characters so real they might be sitting in your living room sharing a bottle of wine. Those who don't recognize themselves or their friends in The Saving Graces will wish they did. This is a jewel of a book, and every facet sparkles.

Michael Lee West

The Saving Graces is a rich, lovely novel about women and the emotions at the center of their lives. It's also an intimate portrayal of friendships through the eyes of four unforgettable women. I hated to put it down!
— (Michael Lee West, author of Crazy Ladies)

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Saving Graces 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book almost 3 years ago and to this day it still sticks in my mind. I am one who reads all types of books from the classics to historical fiction to mainstream lit. THe writing wasn't fancy but the story was extremely well told with real emotion. I wanted to be friends with these girls. I do not agree with the first reviewer when she says it is confusing. If you read the name at the top of the chapter, you know exactly who is taking in that chapter of the book- not too difficult at all. ALL girls should be lucky enough to have a group of friends like the characters in this book. HIghly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've never written a review but feel compelled to let every woman know what a MUST READ this book is. I just happened across it and grabbed it to take on vacation. Lukily I was with a bunch of women that wouldn't allow me to sit in a chair and read while in Puerto Vallarta because that's exactly what I would have done. I could barely tear myself away. I cried so hard I couldn't read the words and a little while later I was laughing so hard the tears were streaming down my face. I was literally depressed when I was nearing the end. I wanted to still be a part of these womens lives that I had come to love. I've finished the book and I miss them terribly. Every woman should read this. I don't think a man would get it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I like primarily that this book is written very well. It has great passages that all women can relate to, from relationships with other women, with men and our relationships with our kids and parents. Its insightful, smart and real about how we all have ups and downs in life and it just makes you want to have a bonding sisterhood like this one where you can share all the bitter and sweet moments in your life like the saving graces do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read and read this book! It is amazing!
EBrown More than 1 year ago
I may have been more moved by this book than I normally would due to my own recent diagnosis of breast cancer, however, I wasn't able to put this book down. I chose this book based on other reviews, but not really knowing what the story line was. I was not sorry! I struggled a little getting into it at first because of there being four main characters telling the story from their own point of view. By the end, the author had done an amazing job of defining each woman as an individual within the group. I would strongly recommend this book - especially to those women who have had the blessing of a longterm friendship with another woman. Great read!
teenadag More than 1 year ago
You will fall in love with all 4 ladies. Each has an interesting story and point of view. Hard to put this one down.
Casidk More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed hearing about a woman's group that is there for each other in all times of life. I think a book club would enjoy the camaraderie of the group.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My mother-in-law gave this to me and at first glance, it appeared to be stereotypical chick lit. However, this is not the case. The book was not predictable and there were enough twists and turns to make it very interesting. Once I got into it, I did not want to put it down. The characters are believable. This book is abot 4 close friends and each chapter is told by a different character. You actually get wrapped up in each life. The character's lives are believable and so is the storyline. A great story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I could hardly put it down. Any woman with at least one great girlfriend will laugh, cry and relate to every aspect of this book. The author did an excellent job of capturing that perfect yet unexplainable relationship we have with our girlfriends they make us laugh harder than anyone we know, let us have a good cry when needed, and keep us level headed with an honesty only they cuold get away with, even when we are angry with them their friendships would not be traded for anything! I buying this book for my best friends!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
For the most part, I have given up reading fiction, because so much of it is either unbearably predictable or poorly written. However, I was looking for something fun to read while on vacation and came across The Saving Graces. Although it took a while for me to relate to the characters once I did I was unable to put the book down. I believe that we can all relate, on some level, to at least one of these women. I also believe that we can all learn at least one lesson from them. Ms. Gaffney writes as if she's speaking to you and keeps things interesting by telling the story from each characters unique perspective. Definitely worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very thoughtful and well written book . I would have been nice to have friends that stick around to grow old with and be your backbone when you needed it.
sakismom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent story of 4 women and their various trials. Well-written, moving, kept my attention thoroughly once I got into it. Recommended it to many people.
CatieN on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a book about the friendship between four women who form a women's group together, but it is very predictable with no real surprises.
RachelPenso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Four women who are close friends name themselves "The Saving Graces." This book is the story of the struggles they go through and the support they give each other. It is the story of their friendship.
indygo88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this for book club & enjoyed it more than I'd actually expected, thinking it would be more along the lines of chick lit, but I was pleasantly surprised to find more of a serious tone. It also facilitated fairly good discussion, so that was also a plus. I thought the character of Isabel was especially inspiring & enjoyed quite a few of her character's quotes. I could definitely picture a movie being made from this one.
vanessan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
very good book. I didn't like the ending though.
lisacox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really thought that "Beaches" was the best girlfriend book ever written; however, now I've read this book and decided that "Beaches" is a close 2nd.
edawmik22 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amazing story of real friendship between 4 women. It's funny and heartwarming. Makes me appreciate my own group of 'Saving Graces'.
Stefuntime More than 1 year ago
WOW!!!! I most say this is one of my favorite books. I just finished it a few days ago and it is purely outstanding. The writting is so well developed for each character and I relate to each one in my own little way. My mother recommend this book and i am so thankful for that! LOVE THIS BOOK.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't say I disliked this book, just found it boring. I thought the beginning chapters were introducing each character and giving a little bit of background for the story. I like to read a story all put together, not jusr chapters on characters. Got bored and quit reading at about page 83.
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