Dean's Blog

Grace and Mary

Grace and MaryI have much enjoyed reading Grace and Mary by Melvyn Bragg. Wigton and Cumbria are clearly embedded in his soul and having lived for nine years in the Lake District ourselves, I can understand that. When I was Rector of St Martin’s Windermere, I wrote to him, inviting him to give an opening lecture at the start of a Celtic festival and getting a very gracious reply, but sadly having to decline. I can identify in some way with John, Mary’s son, who visits from London as my own mother is in a care home in the UK. Opportunities to visit are very restricted so my main form of communication is now restricted to writing regular postcards as skype is too confusing for her.

I gather it was written just before the author’s own mother died in a nursing home and John’s story, from whose perspective it is told, is surely rooted in his own experience, living in London but making regular visits to see his mother. Mary is occasionally wonderfully lucid, often kindled by old photographs, songs and questions about her past, but John has to cope with times too when she doesn’t recognize him. Her deepest longing is for her mother Grace, whom she hardly knew but whom John recreates from her memories and his imagination.

This is an insightful book and one which those with elderly family members will be able to relate to.