The first novel by Anthony Doerr, the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning author of Cloud Cuckoo Land, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning #1 New York Times bestseller All the Light We Cannot See, one of the most beautiful, wise, and compelling debuts of recent times.
David Winkler begins life in Anchorage, Alaska, a quiet boy drawn to the volatility of weather and obsessed with snow. Sometimes he sees things before they happen—a man carrying a hatbox will be hit by a bus; Winkler will fall in love with a woman in a supermarket. When David dreams that his infant daughter will drown in a flood as he tries to save her, he comes undone. He travels thousands of miles, fleeing family, home, and the future itself, to deny the dream.
On a Caribbean island, destitute, alone, and unsure if his child has survived or his wife can forgive him, David is sheltered by a couple with a daughter of their own. Ultimately it is she who will pull him back into the world, to search for the people he left behind.
Doerr's characters are full of grief and longing, but also replete with grace. His compassion for human frailty is extraordinarily moving. In luminous prose, he writes about the power and beauty of nature and about the tiny miracles that transform our lives. About Grace is heartbreaking, radiant, and astonishingly accomplished.
The majesty of nature, the meaning of courage, the redemptive power of love and the pathos of isolation all are gracefully explored in Doerr's story of the price paid for a gift. So why does so little seem to happen in this beautiful, ponderous and sometimes monotonous first novel by the author of the exquisite collection The Shell Collector? David Winkler has seen glimpses of the future ever since he was a boy. As a 32-year-old hydrologist in Anchorage, Alaska, he dreams of his future wife; soon they meet, fall in love and run away to Ohio, where she gives birth to their daughter, Grace. But when he dreams that he fails to save Grace from a flood, Winkler abandons wife and child, hoping to flee the future. He becomes a hermetic handyman on a Caribbean island near St. Vincent, befriended by a local family. The years pass until, emboldened by his surrogate family's grown daughter, a gifted marine biologist, Winkler realizes that he must embark on a journey to discover if Grace is alive. This is a lyrical tale tuned a bit too fine: Doerr's dreamy prose accords more attention to nature than character, so that Winkler, transfixed by the wonders of water and snowflakes but singularly unreflective about his actual life, is a frustratingly opaque protagonist. There are gorgeous moments here, but a stifling lack of story.
Amazing wordsmith, indulgent at times
Perhaps I shouldn’t have read this after All the Light We Cannot See, because I expected to love About Grace just as much. Doerr is still just as brilliantly talented in his prose, but his characters weren’t quite as hauntingly vivid.
The book grips you from the beginning, but I did feel like it hit a bit of a plateau for the last 1/3 of the book. And the ending, what the heck? But still, very much worth the read.
Infinitely thoughtful and creative, just sad the book came to an end. Could have kept reading and reading this story - that gives the most lovely perspective about life and love.