Ramona L. for A Certain Grace by Binnie Brennan
Binnie Brennan strikes grace notes throughout these stories. They are tender, compassionate, filled with insights into our flawed and valiant humanity. "Duncan's Lament" holds you breathless as you witness the harsh maritime life of Beatrice and the shipwrecked fiddler she and her brothers drag from the edge of the sea. The story's ending, when Duncan has at last made for himself a new fiddle and the embattled Beatrice stands quietly listening to "the slow, keening melody of a lament," is note perfect. The long-haul truck driver who transports an injured butterfly to Florida; the self-involved music professor who learns too late to give his house-keeper Tilly's sorrows the same credence as his own; the middle-aged dressmaker on a park bench dreaming of love. Brennan welcomes the reader into each of these disparate lives with an astonishing subtlety of image and language. She made me care deeply about her characters in the way that only the best story-tellers can do. Brava, Binnie Brennan.