grace vs. religion

Harry and Paulie met in the late 1960s and immediately fell deeply in love. Their all-consuming relationship led to marriage, the birth of their beautiful daughter Grace, and eventually to a break-up. Paulie felt like she was losing a part of herself to the intensity of the relationship, and she stepped back to regain her autonomy, invest in her career path, and eventually to remarry a kind and generous man, Julian. 

Now Grace is 23, and she's not answering her phone calls. Harry, whose second marriage has just ended, is in England trying to regain his footing. Paulie is celebrating her birthday in New York with Julian and expecting Grace for dinner, but her daughter never shows. Calls to her home go to her answering machine, and calls to her office offer no answers either.

Finally, Paulie gets a late-night call wishing her a happy birthday, but Paulie can tell that something is wrong with Grace. She feels as if her daughter has someone in the room with her, someone who is directing what she says. Paulie is worried but keeps calling the number she has for Grace. One day, a young man named Hal answered and told Paulie that he didn't know Grace but that he was at Camp Star, the only information she could get before he hung up. 

A frenzy of phone calls to law enforcement finally yielded an answer: Camp Star was a plot of private property in California where Father Star and his followers, Shining Stars, lived. Although the officer wouldn't use call them a cult himself, he said that others people did consider it a cult and had tried to rescue their family members from the camp. Paulie panics, and she and Harry meet in California to try to come up with a way to get their daughter back. 

Finding Grace is a novel of a family torn apart. Author William Adler, most famously of The War of the Roses, that went on to be a film with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. Finding Grace is the story of the lengths to which parents will go to protect their children and the choices that we all have to make on our journey to self-discovery and self-actualization. 

While the characters in Finding Grace are well fleshed out, I did find the prose a little flowery at times. And while the information on cults rings true to the setting of the novel--the 1980s--it seemed like the understanding we have now about not just cults but also controlling interpersonal relationships would add an informed dimension to the relationships in this novel, particularly to the one between Harry and Paulie, that would have made the overall novel richer. However, it was a very interesting study of the family and marital relationships and expectations of the late 20th century. 


Galleys for Finding Grace were provided by The Warren Adler Team through Instafreebie.