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Saying Grace

3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  303 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Rue Shaw has everything--a much loved child, a solid marriage, and a job she loves. Saying Grace takes place in Rue's mid-life, when her daughter is leaving home, her parents are failing, her husband is restless and the school she has built is being buffeted by changes in society that affect us all. Funny, rich in detail and finally stunning, this novel presents a portrait...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published April 14th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 1995)
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(showing 1-30 of 520)
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The head of a small private high school that is student-centered and process-oriented in its philosophy, Rue Shaw, is met with a new challenge in the results- and exam-oriented new president of the board. She also deals with uninspired teachers, incensed and irrational parents, and ethically-challenged students. She manages to rally the troops against ever increasing pressures, until two events destroy her personal life, and the professional side quickly follows.

It’s a “year in the life” story,...more
I was assigned this book for summer reading for my new school. What a great choice! Bet Gutcheon has independent schools pegged! Anyone that teaches, sits on the board of, or sends their children to private school should read this book!
Rue was head of a school called Country. She had been there for 20 years. Everyone loved her.
She took care of her teachers and had a wonderful second in command, Mike. They worked great together.
There were the kids who got into trouble but she always worked through it. But teachers were being complained about and the Board president, Chandler, was also complaining to her.
She husband, Henry, was a doctor. They had been married for 25 years. Their daughter, Georgia, had graduated and gone to NY to...more
Ms. B
Rue Shaw has everything—a much loved child, a solid marriage, and a job she loves. Saying Grace takes place in Rue's mid-life, when her daughter is leaving home, her parents are failing, her husband is restless and the school she has built is being buffeted by changes in society that affect us all. Funny, rich in detail and finally stunning, this novel presents a portrait of a tight-knit community in jeopardy, and of a charming woman whose most human failing is that she wants things to...more
I read this book years ago, and had remembered it as one of my favorites. Sadly, my memory didn't stand up to present-day reality. Saying Grace is an interesting story about a private school head, Rue, and the people around her, but important characters and plot strands are abruptly dropped and never developed. Any one of the storylines (Rue's daughter, the school/teacher/board turmoil, Rue's marriage, child abuse) would have made a better book, but all of them together constitute a soap opera....more
This was something I randomly picked up at a library book sale. It was good - but there was a little too much going on here. Perhaps it is supposed to approximate the chaos of real life, but things didn't go anywhere, or plotlines were dropped (with a few bombshell revelations at the end!), and that was a little frustrating. The sad twists were emotionally difficult to read. I really really liked the first half, though - I liked the depiction of all the craziness of running a school, and I LOVED...more
I thought that, "Saying Grace" was an excellent novel and I became so involved in the lives of very well-developed characters, I felt like I knew each one of them personally. As a retired teacher I also became entangled in the very well-depicted issues within the school and I felt as if I was also involved in the many stories and trials. However, I finished the book feeling distressed and emotionally drained because of the sad, shocking events towards the end. I was so entrapped in the character...more
Peter Spencer
As a product of a private school, albeit in the UK where they are curiously called "public schools," I was interested in reading this book.
It was initially quite fascinating, but seemed to run out of steam as it progressed. Far too many of the characters who appeared to be important were never developed, and after the gruesome tragedy the narrative took such a divergent turn that one wondered if one was reading the same story.

I was disappointed, therefore, that such a promising tale of a school...more
Really enjoyed this one, loved and felt for the main character
Gretchen Stein
Very good book about the inner workings of a private school.
I'm not sure where I got the idea that I would enjoy a Beth Gutcheon book...wandering through the library I picked this up. time, just shoot me.

A cast of millions, many of whom are introduced and then never heard from again. Parents and children who were difficult, at least for me, to keep track of. A gratuitous list of "cool music" - perhaps to establish Ms. Gutcheon's hip factor? An affair never discussed, a perfect daughter, bla bla bla....

Not recommended.
I thought this was a great book. Being middle-aged and in a 30 year marriage with adult children, I was able to relate to it. Fortuneatly I hopefully won't have to worry about my life collapsing around my feet, but certainly it is a profound reminder how things can change in the blink of an eye, or simmer along while we unwittingly assume all is well.
While I read it from the library, I would like to add it permanently to my Sony Reader. It's a keeper.
A slow, sad novel about upheaval in a small private elementary school in suburban southern California, written (mostly) from the perspective of its beleaguered headmistress. One of my former teachers gave it to me in the immediate aftermath of some analogous upheaval at our (ex-)school, but I wasn't old enough to appreciate it then; years later, older and wiser, I was able to summon some empathy, rather than schadenfreude, for everyone involved.
I picked this up from the public library "good reads you might have missed" bookshelf. I loved it -- the insight into how difficult it is to run a school that educates the whole child and deal with all the politics, ethical dilemmas and competing interests while maintaining your own family relationships was the high point for me. The ending was quirky in a good way. It was a little melodramatic in parts, otherwise I would have given it a 4.
I really, really enjoyed this book. The characters are so richly drawn and there's a lot going on. I finished the book and my response as I finished the last page was "wow." A quiet wow, just a pretty amazing character study and people who stay with you long after you close the book. I will definitely read more of Beth Gutcheon.
While this book was very well written, I am only giving it three stars because I was so disappointed with the ending. It just seemed to come out of nowhere rather than being an organic consequence of everything that had come before. But it was very well written and engaging and psychologically compelling up to that point.
Bridget Hafelein
Definitely an interesting read. I liked the dynamics of a small town and its functionings and faults. This book is really about change, some good, some not so good, but the meaning is clear change, good or bad is inevitable in life, career, and love. I thought the story was very meaningful and am glad I read it.
Realistic story about the politics faced by a principal of a small private school: empty nest, struggles of termination in middle age, politics--I enjoyed this book although it was painfully similar to some experiences in my own life at the time (not termination).
This book switches between characters without warning, and doesn't introduce them in a way that lets you know where they fit into the story. I just didn't care about any of them, and didn't want to keep reading in hopes that I'd finally understand what was going on.
Thoroughly depressing book, but I love what Beth Gutcheon has to say about community, and integrity, and grace. (And while I'm at it -- though this is a novel, it should be required reading for anyone involved in a nonprofit board. Just sayin'.)
Feb 11, 2011 Pam rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: probably won't
I wasn't crazy about the way it was written. Sparse, which is OK, but too many things were left out which made it confusing to read at times. Said some very interesting things about private schools and more or less tied everything up.
Martha D
This is a wonderful picture of "behind-the-scenes" life of the Headmistress of a small private school. I loved the depiction of characters, and the analysis of difficult decisions when problems arose in the story.
First 3 quarters of the book was really good. Then it started to go downhill and had an ending that was not at all satisfying. But I'm not a teacher....perhaps a teacher would really enjoy this book.
This may be my favorite book. I love the school setting as I could relate to a lot of it. The scenes with the parents made me feel like someone out there in the literary world gets it.
powerfully written. very painful at times. and makes one ever so grateful for those who teach our children, no matter what type of school they are in in. they are the stars of our universe
I like stories about small communities - something I've never been part of - so that is why I liked this one although I liked her other book, "More Than You Know" more.
An interesting look at the life of the head of a small private school in California. Things are looking too perfect, and they are. Some really great descriptions.
What starts as a fascinating look at the complexities of running a school gets bogged down in a negative spiral. I felt like a lot of the school community was left out.
Lost myself in this simple story. Saying Graces is peopled by characters that are so real you might you'll run into them at the grocery store.
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Beth Gutcheon grew up in western Pennsylvania. She was educated at Harvard where she took an honors BA in English literature. She has spent most of her adult life in New York City, except for sojourns in San Francisco and on the coast of Maine. In 1978, she wrote the narration for a feature-length documentary on the Kirov ballet school, The Children of Theatre Street, which was nominated for an Ac...more
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