Book Review: Beyond Grace’s Rainbow by Carmel Harrington + Interview!

Beyond Graces RainbowWhat it’s about:

Beyond Grace’s Rainbow is the deeply emotional and poignant story of young single mother Grace Devlin.

When Grace is diagnosed with cancer she best chance of survival is to find a bone marrow transplant from a family member. Only Grace is adopted and her one previous attempt to connect with her birth mother resulted in bitter disappointed.

But with her young son, Jack, to think about, and the return of her ex Liam, Jack’s father, reminding her of feelings she’d thought she’d buried long ago, Grace refuses to give up hope just yet. With the help of her friends she bravely embarks of a journey of discovery.

This search will bring her from her home in vibrant Dublin to te unspoilt beauty of Wexford where she must unravel a web of lies and deceit that has spanned over thirty years.

With a wonderful cast of supporting characters and plenty of charm, this will have you laughing and crying at the turn of a page.


Review:

Carmel Harrington is an author who’s name I see thrown around a lot in the book blogosphere. Apparently she wrote this amazing book that makes everybody cry. I finally got myself a copy of said book, ‘Beyond Grace’s Rainbow’ and couldn’t wait to start reading because of the numerous recommendations and I wasn’t disappointed. Beyond Grace’s Rainbow is about a young single mother called Grace Devlin who is diagnosed with a form of cancer where her only option of a full recovery is a bone marrow transplant. Grace was adopted, so the hunt for a perfect match really is on and the only sliver of hope is her birth mother, whom she’s never met and has previously dismissed any chance of seeing Grace. Along with Grace’s group of close friends, all of whom have their own individual worries and problems, they embark on a journey none of them will ever forget. They learn a lot about each other and themselves and find hope and courage in unexpected places.

The thing I liked most about this book is despite Grace’s unfortunate cancer diagnosis, everything was relatively normal. Her weird, wacky and diverse group of friends, being a single mum, the ex and father of her son coming back into the picture. It was all very ordinary – but it a good way. Like there’s more to Grace and her life than just this illness. Her group of friends really did make the story for me and there wasn’t a single one of them I didn’t warm to. They were all very well developed characters with depth who had their own little lives and problems that Carmel didn’t dismiss at all during the story. It shows you that within a group of friends or a family, your life doesn’t stop just because someone else has drawn an unlucky card nor does it make everyone else’s problems less real or important and Grace demonstrates that perfectly in the book because even in the midst of the illness, she still cares about her friends. This book really does portray the importance of friendship and the unspeakable bond that they have.

I found this book so incredibly realistic, like I was reading a true story. The emotions they feel are so true and the whole story completely consumes you before you know it. This book will feel you with a huge range of emotions and it made me laugh, it made me sad and angry and even nervous at times because I was so attached to Grace that she’d begun to feel like a friend. It was raw and real and unexpected at left me dangerously close to a emotional breakdown near the end. There are so many life lessons to be learnt from this story; don’t take anything for granted because life has a funny way of flipping your world upside down in an instant and learn to give second chances because people can and do change. Above all else, this story made me feel extremely grateful for my health, my life and the wonderful people in it.


Interview with Carmel Harrington

d5ca1d6bea332b651d9e76961dc5cd88Hi Carmel, I’m absolutely thrilled to have you on my blog today for a chat! Firstly, can you sum up what Beyond Grace’s Rainbow is about?

Hi Jenny, I’m very happy to be on your lovely blog. I’m a huge Disney fan too! I think ultimately Beyond Grace’s Rainbow is a book that hopefully leaves the reader pledging to live their best life and to make every moment count. I wanted to write a book that was life-affirming and positive, despite the sad themes that run throughout it. So hopefully while it will probably make you cry at times, it will also make you laugh and smile too.

The official synopsis is :-

*Book of the Year in the 2013 Kindle Book Awards*

*Winner of the Romantic eBook of the Year at the Festival of Romantic Fiction*

*A Bord Gais Book Club Recommended Read*

Beyond Grace’s Rainbow is the deeply emotional and poignant story of young single mother Grace Devlin.

When Grace is diagnosed with cancer her best chance of survival is to find a bone marrow transplant from a family member. Only Grace is adopted and her one previous attempt to connect with her birth mother resulted in bitter disappointment.

But with her young son, Jack, to think about, and the return of her ex Liam, Jack’s father, reminding her of feelings she’d thought she’d buried long ago, Grace refuses to give up hope just yet. With the help of her friends she bravely embarks on a journey of discovery.

This search will bring her from her home in vibrant Dublin to the unspoilt beauty of Wexford where she must unravel a web of lies and deceit that has spanned over thirty years.

With a wonderful cast of supporting characters and plenty of charm, this will have you laughing and crying at the turn of a page.

Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

It actually stemmed from a conversation I had with my best friend Annie. She is adopted and was struggling with the fact that as she didn’t know her biological family, her genetic medical history was a mystery to her. I wanted to explore a storyline where a mother had given her baby up for adoption and pledged never to see that child again. But would she change her mind if it became a life or death situation. The rest of the story flowed from that idea.

How much research went into this book? Considering the subject matter, I’d expect a fair bit?

Unfortunately, some of the themes, the tough ones, I had first-hand experience with, so I used those as my first point of reference. However, I did do a lot of research, because I wanted to treat those subjects sensitively.

How did your writing career start? Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Ever since I was a young girl I wanted to write, but life took me off on another direction and I didn’t actually start properly until I turned forty. Life for me really did begin at forty! I started by self-publishing my novel Beyond Grace’s Rainbow and then thankfully, it became an eBook bestseller and was noticed by an agent and then ultimately by Harper Collins.

If you wasn’t an author, what would your next dream job be?

I love to sing, I make up songs all the time for the children. They think I’m hugely talented, but sadly my voice wouldn’t quite make the X Factor cut, despite the standing ovations my children give me 😉 So I’ll be a singer, on the scale of Beyonce. Think big I always say 

Who are some of your personal favourite authors and all-time favourite books?

I have so many favourite authors in such diverse genres, from Jane Austen to Stephen King. Recently I loved reading Suzanne Collins and JK Rowling and I also love Maeve Binchy. I always struggle when asked to choose favourite books, but a few that would make the list, in no particular order – Lord of the Rings, Little Women, Wuthering Heights, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Hunger Games and Circle of Friends.

Which 4 famous people, alive or dead, would you invite to your dream dinner party? (They don’t have to be book related!)

Without question my dinner party would consist of Oprah Winfrey, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Stephen Fry.

What was the hardest thing when writing this book? Did you face any challenges along the way?

Writing the book was the easy part, funnily enough. It was having the courage to actually say out loud that I wanted to be a writer and then showing the world my book. I was so full of self-doubt, I didn’t think anyone would want to read it. I am forever grateful that I got that wrong!

Are there any similarities or dramatic differences between yourself/anyone you know and the main characters in Beyond Grace’s Rainbow?

I think that there are little bits of me in a lot of my characters. It is inevitable that I would draw on my own life experiences and that seeps into each of them a little. But they are all products of my imagination at the end of the day. I will acknowledge that Grace and I have similarities. We’re both mothers and our children come first. My good friends who know me inside out, say that when they read Grace, they are reading me. Actually, while personality wise I am nothing like Abby, I did give her a lot of my own dating disasters! And Gerry’s love of movies, well that’s all me!

Whilst reading about a character, I always try and imagine an actor/actress that fits their description in my mind. If Beyond Grace’s Rainbow was made into a movie, who would be your fantasy dream cast for the main characters?

So hard to answer this question but I’ll give it a shot! Grace – Rachel McAdams, Liam – Colin Farrell, Abby – Charlene McKenna, Tara – Liv Tyler, Sean – Michael Fassbender, Tom – Robert Downey Jr, Gerry – Jude Law, Catherine – Emma Thompson

I use a Pinterest board when writing and actually posted my dream cast there! http://www.pinterest.com/happymrsh/beyond-graces-rainbow/

 When you’re not busy writing, how do you like to relax?

With the children, walking in our local forestry or on the beach, just being together. I love getting together with our friends too, with Rog, for a glass of wine or two.

 If you could have been the author of any book in the entire universe, which one would it be and why?

To Kill A Mockingbird. Because even all these years later it still has the power to make readers think and question. A classic in every sense of the word.

 If you could go back in time what would you tell your younger self?

Write!

 What would be your top piece of advice for any aspiring writers out there?

Write and then be brave and share what you have written so you can get feedback and keep writing. Interact with similar minded people, use twitter and face book to make connections. Use the resources that are available to you. I have found www.writing.ie invaluable. Just write, no excuses, set a deadline for yourself and do it.

Are you working on anything new at the moment that you’re able to tell us anything about?

My second novel – The Life You Left – will be published on 19th June. It tells Sarah’s story, who is a wife and mother whose world comes crashing down when her husband doesn’t come home from work one day. I have learnt over the years, that sometimes life can kick you very hard and just when you think you can get up, kicks you again. But it’s only then, we discover how story we really are.


Thank you so much to Carmel for that fantastic interview! You can find Beyond Grace’s Rainbow and Carmel on the following links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Goodreads

 

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11 thoughts on “Book Review: Beyond Grace’s Rainbow by Carmel Harrington + Interview!

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