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A Peculiar Grace

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  584 ratings  ·  86 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 smal
Hardcover, 395 pages
Published August 10th 2007 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  584 ratings  ·  86 reviews

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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
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 ess
Susan Coleman
May 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 Ve
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 15, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 30, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: american, 2020
The long winded, overly complex sentences with awkward phrasing made the book difficult to read. The random unrelated details and incidents slowed down a slow story about a wrought iron artist living alone in a rural setting. The unexpected arrival of a bipolar? wandering miscreant introduced a possible distraction, but when the 40ish male protagonist reveals he still pines on his love from 20 years ago (a woman who was right to dump him) I had to roll my eyes. When he feels compelled to drop in ...more
May 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Lent's In the Fall was a brilliant book so I decided to pick up a few more. This one, however was very disappointing, cringy even. The conversations between the characters were vulgar and flat, and there were times when I felt utterly uncomfortable about where the action was going, and how women characters were portrayed and perceived by men, mainly. The story had potential but it was ruined. There was some character development and growth, but most of the time I found myself thinking: ew - the ...more
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
It took me a long time to read it. Its slow pace and detailed descriptions made it difficult to pick it up again after not having the time to read for a day or two. I still enjoyed the skillful writing very much. Jeffrey Lent is amazing at setting a scene. The details are significant and also poetical.
I really loved his 'In the Fall' and 'Lost Nation' and expected a lot from this book, but it wasn't as good.
Holly Hatfield
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The writing was amazing and I found myself deeply captivated with the characters and their stories. It's a story of forgiveness, redemption and the power of unconditional love. Five stars all the way!
Jul 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Started but quit after a few pages due to major irritation with the characters and the vulgarity of language and situation.
May 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book with the stoy of Hewitt Pearce who lives on a lost love is at time engrossing and captivating and at other times just dragging on. The ending left me .... you will see.
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just plain wonderful.
Luke Sherwood
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Jeffrey Lent’s heroes face challenges out of the run of the mill. Some of these, as in In the Fall and Lost Nation, face an onslaught of outside forces strong enough to bow or break even the strongest protagonist. In A Peculiar Grace, hero Hewitt Pearce’s toughest tests result instead from his own past and his not-always-healthy ways of coping with it. In this book, Mr. Lent has shrunk his canvas down from the sweeping, heroic backdrops he used in Fall and Nation, to the emotional life of one st ...more
Jan 24, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 06, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Jul 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
The book, A Peculiar Grace by Jeffrey Lent has such potential. The story takes place in rural Vermont. Who wouldn’t like a story which takes place in rural Vermont? Having lived in Vermont for a couple of years I was excited to see how the story unfolded. But it only brought disappointment. The story is about Hewitt Pearce, a middle aged man living alone on the family farm. He is a blacksmith. But the story is like some of the back woods roads in rural Vermont. They roads go on and on and on and ...more
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 06, 2007 rated it liked it
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).
Oct 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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.
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-2014
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?
Diane Walters
Dec 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a great story! Jeffrey Lent really can get into people's heads. I thought the characters were quirky, real, and written in a down to earth way, so we got most of the back story about how they became the people they were at that time in their lives.

This was my first novel of his, and I am looking forward to reading the rest of his books now.

I had an audio book version and Elisabeth Rodgers did an excellent job with the narration. Wonderful!
Tom Baker
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the 2nd Jeffrey Lent book I have read: the first being "In the Fall". Lent's writing is lyrical with out being fancy, spare but full of color. I thought the hero was an angry, stubborn and prickly man with a selfish streak. I did like the unpredictability of the ending-he was so,so stuck on his first love that I didn't think he wood allow himself to relax enough to see that true love was staring him down.
Feb 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
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!
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