A Peculiar Grace
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A Peculiar Grace

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  393 ratings  ·  70 reviews
An unforgettable tale of love, family secrets, and the hold of the past in a family of New England artists, A Peculiar Grace is the latest triumph from the author of In the Fall , hailed by The Christian Science Monitor and The New York Times as one of the best books of the year. Hewitt Pearce lives alone in his family home, producing custom ironwork and safeguarding a...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published August 10th 2007 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 2007)
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Marissa Barbieri
I read this book in a day.

I deeply loved In the Fall, the only other Lent I've read, for many of the same reasons as this fine piece, though they are, on the surface, very different. What ties them together (besides Lent's... er... I nearly used the word "sparse" there :) but sparse his language does often feel, despite its richnesss, and I am appreciative of his disregard for conventional sentence structure in service to his Yankee cadence) is the sense of spanning time in New England - the cyc...more
I loved Lent's other books "Lost Nation" and "In the Fall" so I had high hopes for this new book. It's quiet. I mean really quiet. There are certain days that I like a quiet book that really looks at the small details of the character's life and slowly moves along the story line but it really is more of a character study. I like that. But then around page 250 the real plot kicks in and all of a sudden there is drama and backstory and interest. All of a sudden it's not so quiet anymore, the mood...more
It took me forever to finish Jeffrey Lent’s highly praised novel A Peculiar Grace. Forever. Just shy of 400 pages, it felt twice as long because Lent’s prose is just shy of purple and nothing happens. Nothing. Well, okay, that’s not exactly true. Stuff happens.

40-something Hewitt Pearce is leading a solitary life in the Vermont house he inherited from his father. Hewitt’s a blacksmith, a prickly artistic type who “had to sit there a while to see if it was a day for iron or not. This was the esse...more
This story really had potential. I was attracted to the book by the descriptions of the main character - a morose, solitary, middle-aged loner who lives in the family's Vermont estate house, struggling with past alcoholism and failed relationships, but developing into a masterful wrought iron worker with his rustic home-made forge. Suddenly, women start to appear - a weird hippie-girl in a broken-down VW bug with severe emotional problems; his long-lost love whose unfaithful husband dies in a ca...more
Alchemy. sweat and inspiration:
felled tree to cabinet. The shape of a tool.
The shape it makes.
Scrape of a file across a blade--how
it feels in my fingers.

That's what I love in a book about craft like this one.
Recommended by a friend, (maybe she recalled
I used to work beat steel and iron) this book about
an ironworker was very satisfying on a number of counts.
Lent's got a lyrical bent. There are times his writing
about landscape approaches a master like James Lee Burke.
His rendering of rural Ver...more
Susan Coleman
Though there were aspects of this book I didn't care for, it turned out to be one of those stories I wished would just go on and on. I didn't want it to end, but now that I'm done with it and it's back at the library, I believe I'll have to buy it to have on my shelf for all time. It's one of those books that makes me wish I could turn to someone next to me as I'm reading in bed at night and say, "Listen to this passage; it's just beautiful."

What I didn't like about it: multiple places the word...more
Jess Cullinan
Four and a half stars, really, and there are two reasons this isn't one of my new absolutely favorite books: 1. The author really needs to learn how to use commas in long sentences and 2. The last page. Really?! You're leaving it there?! Auuuuuuuuugh!!!

Other than those two things, this book was fantastic. the prose is really beautiful, though I found myself having to go back to make sure I'd gotten it all, due to the comma issue, a good number of times. It's not a book about plot, but about char...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Up until the ending, I was going to give this book 4 stars. Lovely writing, great characters, good sense of place. Then he mucked it up with a stupid, unsatisfying ending which I just didn't believe the characters would go to.

I really enjoyed the set up though - enjoyed the side-discussions of art and artists, found the family-story very interesting and sad and real.
Abby Fick
Jeffrey Lent is an incredible author. I always start his books a little slowly, thinking I'm not really in the mood for this. I'm always wrong.
He makes me want to live on a farm or other sort of rustic place. Anyone who knows me knows what incredible praise that is.
Oct 05, 2007 asra rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
Hewitt Pearce has secluded himself in rural Vermont, in the same home that once provided his artist father escape from a tragic past. Hewitt's father forever struggled with the loss of his first wife and baby, but worked at a new beginning with Hewitt's mom. Like his dad, Hewitt works as an artist. But unlike him, he pays homage to a woman long gone. He's sequestered himself on the farm, working as a fine arts blacksmith. But his reclusive routine is disturbed when he offers Jessica, a drifter w...more
There are so many things I like about this book, but honestly I think one of my favorite things about it was the protagonist's descriptions of blacksmithing. He is an artist who works in iron, creating decorative fences and gates for his occasional clients. The descriptions of his creative process, both the mental design part and the very physical working of the hot metal, are breathtaking. This author is a very visual writer, so all the descriptions, of his isolated farm and his creative proces...more
Excellent story of a middle-aged loner who has yet to come to terms with the loss of his childhood sweetheart. Enter a strange, mentally ill young woman who turns out to be his salvation. The story was somewhat marred for me by the literary style of run-on and incomplete sentences used to excess.
Didn't love this book. The story was too fragmented for me. In all honesty, I think that part of the issue was that I listened to 80% of this book and the narration was not good. I enjoyed his voice, but the story often had breaks where it would move from storyline to storyline. There was no pause in the narration and I often found myself confused because the story had taken a turn that did not make sense until I realized the characters and sub-story had changed. I also didn't feel that the indi...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book of Jeffrey Lent's whose books I have devoured!

There is a twist at the end that stopped me short - but the reading was fine.
Apr 15, 2014 Carrie added it
I didn't care for this book. It was hard to follow, and didn't hold my interest.
What a great find! I picked this up off the library shelf, with no background knowledge of the author. It seems he's pretty well known, actually. The story is great- takes place in Vermont in the country. The main character, an artist, is a blacksmither. I enjoyed reading about how he created his art. Lent takes time to develop his characters and conveys thought in the rolling jargon of that area- run-on sentences and incorrect punctuation. I had to backtrack several times. Lent also captures we...more
I loved In the Fall and was prepared to love this, too. And, I was OK with it right up till page 387 or so: Interesting characters, check. Adequate story line, check. Passable writing, check. But I totally didn't buy the ending. It felt as though Jeffrey Lent had a dirty-old-man scene in his mind that didn't fit his characters but he forced it on them, anyway. No me gusta! I regret the time spent on three hundred-some pages -- especially while VCU was making the NCAA tournament field. (Go, Rams!...more
I liked Lent's other books, especially In The Fall. This one fell flat in quite a few ways. The dialogue felt forced and was unnecessarily vulgar. The characters had potential but their motives weren't very realistic. (I actually had more interest in the long-dead father than any of the others.) The too-young-to-be-a hippie girl never felt real to me and was ultimately annoying and scarily unstable. The ending was just over the top stupid.

Best thing about the book? The descriptions of the work i...more
Set in the art scene of postwar New York, a commune in the early seventies, and contemporary small-town New England, A Peculiar Grace is a remarkable achievement by one of our finest authors and an insightful portrait of family secrets, with an unforgettable cast of characters who have learned to survive by giving shape to their losses.

Listen to A Peculiar Grace on your smartphone, notebook or desktop computer.
I read some other reviews before I wrote mine. If this is not as good as some of Lent's other works I have a lot to look forward to. As for this book; I think other reviewers missed the point that Pearce's loves are actually muses that he is trying to reconcile both in his art and in his life. That painful process is well depicted and the ending gives the reader the room to decide whether Pearce has fully resolved all these complicated issues. Highly recommend.
I barely finished this audio book. I felt like I was listening to a romance novel some of the time. I really liked "In the Fall" and plan to read "Lost Nation" If I didn't know better I would say he had to write this one, full of sweaty sex, pot, booze, and over wrought emotion in order to achieve the tightness and grace of In the Fall. Could this have been one in his drawer that got published due to the success of the others two?
I debated between 2 and 3 stars for this book because, while I enjoyed parts immensely (I got a sense for the New England country life that I did not have before), and the story gives a good example of what happens in a family when secrets are kept, the characters are occasionally subject to monologia, a disease that I do not believe consistent with real life dialog. (And, yes, I made up that word).
I actually liked this book more than I thought I would. It was difficult to read at times because of Lent's writing style. I read a good portion of it in one sitting and am glad I did because ohterwise I don't think I would have liked it as much if I had read only 20 to 30 pages at a time. It would have lost some of the meaning for me. I felt the ending with Emily left me a little empty.
Louis Moresi
I enjoyed the writing of this book; especially the descriptions of the artistic process. But there's something too neat about the self-destructive loners in so many stories I have read recently and I'm becoming bewildered by them all.

I compare this to "breath" which I read immediately afterwards and realise just how much the simple approach to writing is a refreshing change !
A very interesting book about family secrets, an obsession about a-love-lost, and what that does to your life. It's amazing how someone can hold on to his first love over so many years and still be a good person and not vengefull.Family secrets add to the burden. You keep hoping things will turn the right way for him.
Lent is an excellent writer, who has the ability to draw such complex characters and rich back stories. While I prefer "In the Fall," this, his latest, does not disappoint -- although I must say I did not care for the ending. Lent here creates such inwardly troubled souls, caught in the past and in traps of their own making.
I have to admit, I didn't expect really getting into this book but I really liked it. The plot was not really what I expected, and there's alot of introspective looks into the characters' personalities. It kind of made me want to go live in the New England countryside and become a blacksmith like in the book!
Kirsten McKeown
Because I feel that Lost Nation just may be the best book I've ever read... I'm really looking forward to A Peculiar Grace... I feel like there are very few writers out there today who are truly gifted... Ian McEwan is one... Howard Norman is another. And Jeffrey Lent has snuck up on me and awed the hell out of me.
Jeffery Lent can sure write a sentence! I loved the characters in this book and the story, while timeless is a contemporary tale of love, loss and redemption. A family saga, which are my favorites, of flawed people with good qualities. Read this book, you will be glad you did.
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