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Circle of Grace
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Circle of Grace

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  657 ratings  ·  106 reviews
When tragedy occurs, four friends come together in a bittersweet reunion and are forced to confront the falsehoods and also embrace the truth in their lives.

On college graduation day, Grace and her friends—Liz, Tess, and Lovey—agreed to keep a journal that would make the rounds. They vowed to always be truthful.

For three decades, the journal has been circulating, carrying
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  657 ratings  ·  106 reviews

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Sep 04, 2013 rated it liked it
"Circle of Grace" was a read for an upcoming book club meeting. I liked it more than I thought I would; found it a quick and easy read, quite light overall, but not bad. Four college friends haven't really connected, other than in a round-robin journal, for over 30 years, and when one of them (Grace) learns she has incurable cancer, she decides to rally the girls for a meeting--and to explain that everything she has written in the journal for those decades was essentially lies, a life concocted ...more
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a fantastic book about true friendship that stands the test of time, even through difficulties. It was also about the value and power of truth in love. It follows the lives of 4 women from their college years until their early 50s. In spite of sadness, it was an uplifting book that encourages people to value their own friendships more, to reach out to others and be true friends. This is not a Christian book, and the Christian aspects are extremely minor, but I appreciated that they were ...more
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
The word that comes to mind is "rich". While the individual stories were a bit predictable in the beginning, the lessons learned from the characters' willingness to be vulnerable and open with one another we're beautifully drawn. The ending was one of the most spiritually up lifting that I've ever read.
May 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
I read this through my book club, and if I'd chosen it for myself (which I never really would have), I wouldn't have finished it. I found it trite and poorly written, and it just got worse as it progressed. My book club talked a lot about the things we disliked about this book, so it probably wasn't just me.
Jul 05, 2009 rated it did not like it
Read on vacation for book group. Women in midlife crisis trying to reevaluate their lives and oops - someone has cancer... sorry - yawn.
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Best of friends in college. As they graduate and head off into the world they create a circle journal that over the years goes from one to the next and around again. As close as these women were you'd think there wouldn't be as much stretching of truth and out-and-out deception in their journal entries. Fast forward . . . One of them is diagnosed with cancer. Grace has literally no one. In spite of all her "in-accurate" journal entries over the years, Grace reaches out and invites her college fr ...more
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about friendship, truth and the strength revealed in being vulnerable. The four friends each have different dreams, skill sets and flaws and yet I naturally connected to them all. I was very pulled into the story. Wisdom is discovered and eloquently spoken in the dialogue and character's reflections. Inspiring.
Mary K.
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read this at the airport. Had I not been a captive audience, I may have quit. But I endured. The characters are trite and not likable. Go ahead and skip this one.
C. Taylor-West
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cathy Davidson
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
Good story, but too melodramatic and too many stereotypes, including the female leads but ESPECIALLY the men. There is the overbearing husband, the 'good' husband, and the various others who are just included to remind us that men are unfaithful and untrustworthy as partners.
Beth Pearson
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book! I wish I could give it 4-1/2 stars cause I wouldn't really say "it was amazing" but I did really really like it and enjoyed reading it.

It's not a book for everyone---I'd call it definitely a "chic book". It's about 4 ladies that become BFF's in college. Upon graduation they decide to do a circle journal between them---write in it, mail it to the next girl, she reads what is there, writes what she's been doing, and mails it to the next person, etc. They do this for 30 years unt
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Four college friends keep a 'friendship journal' over a period of 30 years. Finally getting together in their fifties, each fearing the upcoming "reunion" as each of them has been less than truthful in the journal during the past 30 years.

Shows what "true" friendship can and will endure. This is my first Penelope Stokes novel and I will be reading more of her in the future.

From dust jacket:

"All her adult life, Grace Benedict has been living a lie. Now that deception is about to catch up with her
Great writing but lots of theological holes

I've always liked Ms. Stokes' writing. I read several of her books a few years ago and searched her out recently to see if she had written anything new. I came across this book and was excited to see that much of it was set in an area near and dear to my heart, Asheville. I love when a book is descriptive about an area I know well and this book did not disappoint in that regard. The writing was exemplary and the book kept my interest from beginning to e
The writing in this book is really "just ok", to be quite honest. The characters are often 2 dimensional, predictable, and stale. Yet, at the end it starts touching on some really deep, spiritual stuff, universal truths and whatnot. That made sticking this book out a good choice.

THIS made me mad - and the fact that she never ONCE outright said the lesbians were a couple, and never had them do any more than hold hands once....
From Lovey's journal - "Sometimes I hate what this world has done to th
Jul 28, 2016 rated it liked it
What is truth? When their psychology professor posed this question to the class as a group assignment, then appointed the students to specific groups to work out the answer, she created unexpected friendships for Grace, Tess, Lovey, and Liz. Though very different women they moved into a house together off-campus of UNCA by their second semester and at graduation vowed to stay in touch through a circle journal and to always tell each other the truth. 30 years later they realize they have been les ...more
Celia Kennedy
Aug 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Four college room-mates with divergent backgrounds support each other as the wend their way through college and expectations of the 1960's.

Tess, the writer in the group, offers the idea of a Circle Journal as a way to keep them connected after graduation. Over 30 years the journal gets updated with the details of their lives, and mailed around the world.

Grace, whose moral principles are the source of strength and conflict in the early years of their friendship, comes to face life's greatest chal
Sep 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A group of unlikely college roommates vows at graduation to keep in touch via a circle journal. While they keep their commitment, they each unbeknowst to the others omit certin unflattering deatils about their lives. Fast forward 30 years where some life events convince one of the ladies that it's time to get real. She schedules a weekend retreat for them and what happens is life altering. They come to realize that by not being honest with one another, they robbed themsleves of the support the f ...more
Nov 14, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Regina Spiker
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
What is truth? A midterm exam question that got four college students together and their answer: Truth is the core of human experience, the center point which keeps us balanced and aligned, the hub which connects us to all we value. It goes by many names - faith, beauty, love, justice - but whatever we call it, however we experience it, it is the source of meaning and purpose in our lives. 4 college friends; 4 different views on life; 4 different careers planned - but things don't always turn ou ...more
Apr 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
This book made me think about my college girl friends- the bonds we created during those years living together, the choices and paths we took in different directions and how we've changed over the years. I'm glad those women are still a part of my life despite being spread across the country and being busy with life. I enjoyed reading about Grace, Tess, Lovey and Liz and how they came together after years of drifting apart and withholding the truth about their lives. Sometimes I felt things were ...more
Feb 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Op zich een prachtig verhaal ook door de afwisseling van personages, vier vriendinnen elk met hun eigen verhaal. Toch had ik moeite om door sommige stukken heen te komen, de auteur houdt nogal van uitgebreide omschrijvingen waardoor mijns inziens het verhaal ging in kakken. Hierdoor werd het best een langdradig geheel en dat vind ik totaal niet prettig lezen. Toch uitgelezen want ik was erg benieuwd hoe het nu uiteindelijk zou eindigen, of bepaalde dingen duidelijk zouden worden en ook hierin te ...more
Cindy S
Oct 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Grace's life has not turned out the way she had planned. She is alone, in a deadend job, struggling to make ends meet and now faces a crisis. Thirty years ago she was in college living the best years of her life and sharing a home with her best friends: Liz, Tess and Lovey. Although they have been sharing a Journal throughout the years, Grace has not been honest with her entries. So Grace takes a chance to reconnect with her friends and come clean with the truth. A touching story of expectations ...more
Loni Spendlove
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've always wanted to write a book about the power of friendships, but apparently it has been written by Penelope Stokes! This was a beautiful journey through the years as college women find unexpected kinship between 4 different personalities, and learn to love one another. As life's hardships happen, they build unnecessary walls that prevent the full measure of love they could glean from the friendship. Only when death faces one of them do they reach out to fully complete the circle that conne ...more
Rita Mahan
Feb 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Maybe it was because I finished this book on a day when several things were going wrong but
it really warmed my heart. A lovely story of several women who become friends in college and vow to stay in touch. Of course life gets in the way and they keep in touch only by a journal in which they write and circulate among themselves. Unfortunately putting things on paper makes it easier to gloss over their real lives and they really do not know what the other's lives are like until they are reunited 3
Oct 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was my Book Club's read for this past month. Everyone loved this book about four women who met in a freshman college philosophy class where they were put in a group to discuss the question "What is truth?" They become close friends and end up rooming together for the rest of college. For thirty years they keep in touch with a circle journal where they all stretch the truth. Then thirty years later they meet again for a weekend retreat. I loved it!! It had a bit of a slow start but by the ti ...more
Dec 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great book about friendship and standing the test of time. Four girls meet during college and promise to always stay in touch. They use a circle journal to keep in touch. The story involves omissions that the girls don't want to tell each other and the spin they put on their lives to save face. It all comes crashing down when one can no longer contain all of her lies. The have a reunion and learn that true friends love them no matter what and they can forgive anything. What a great story.
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, own
I wasn't sure I wanted to read this; I like to read to escape, to not think too much, and to feel good when I'm done with a book. I wasn't sure this book fit that criteria. It is not a feel good ending in the traditional sense but it is the way I would like to live the rest of my life.

This is now on my favorite books list and I'm going to buy it so I can have a copy of my very own and read it as often as I want to.

I read it on a Saturday (& didn't do much of anything else) and when I was do
Elisabeth Furlong
Aug 12, 2015 rated it liked it
This is one of those books that I really really liked until about halfway through reading it. I hate when authors can't seem to let go of the story and it just keeps dragging on and on. There were at least three different part where I thought "wow the author should just end it here" but it kept going and around page 310 I found myself skipping ahead. Still a good book and a fast, easy summer read.
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
It was a nice read. College friends vow to never grow apart -- and then do. They have a journal to write to each other in and vow to be truthful -- and yet never are completely truthful with each other. Grace discovers that she has terminal cancer and decides to come clean with the others -- she doesn't want to die alone. The girls find their way back to each other, only to have their group broken apart in a way they never conceived of.
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any girlfriend looking for a soul-searching, heart-warming good read
Penelope Stokes is one of my favorite authors. I have read all of her books until Circle of Grace was published. They are all based on an object and the history and life story surrouding that object. Some concentrate on one persons life, others intertwine lives, and a few concentrate on groups of girlfriends. The Circle of Grace is one such book, and I really do love the format, sh owing how our lives can all go in such separate directions.
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It’s often been debated whether a person’s destiny lies in genetics or environment, but either way, I suppose I was destined to be a fiction writer. A Baby Boomer with an English teacher and a social worker for parents, I grew up being challenged to develop my imagination, and to seek out for myself the meaning and significance of life. I learned early both the magic and mystery of stories and the ...more