Monday, October 24, 2016

Book Review: Always Grace

Title: Always Grace

Author: Tim LaHaye with Gregory S. Dinallo

Greg Dinallo's web page:

Date: 2008

Publisher: Kensington

ISBN: 978-0-7582-3888-7

Length: 428 pages

Quote: “I’ve just the lass who’s perfect for it.”

For those who associate LaHaye’s name with the fast-paced, dramatic Left Behind stories (or with nonfiction), Always Grace may be a bit of a surprise. This is not a fast-paced novel. It’s a life-long-slow story, the kind that sounds like a re-creation of someone’s family history, about a couple who are outrageously faithful to each other in the most outrageous circumstances.

Grace and Dylan are Scots who meet during visits to North America. Dylan is a photographer. Grace is a frustrated dancer whose family don’t think she should even be seen in dance costumes, much less pose in lingerie. Because they work well together as photographer and model, when a customer orders desperate young Dylan to photograph lingerie, he asks Grace to pose. Her brother, self-appointed guardian of Grace’s morals, waxes indignant. Grace and Dylan liberate themselves from her bossy brother by getting married.

Then the war (between 1914 and 1919 it was “The” War) breaks out. Dylan enlists. He and Grace write letters regularly. They’re newlyweds and so much in love that it seems impossible that they could possibly grow old any way but together…but they do.

And why is the heroine called Grace? She’s the realistic kind of heroine, not the sweet kind; she seems a most imperfect symbol if she’s meant to represent the grace of God. Nevertheless, she and Dylan believe in fidelity, and their romantic story could have been titled “The Value of Fidelity.” Christians should only try to be as faithful to the God of grace as the fictional character Dylan is to the fictional character Grace.

Since this is primarily a novel about an artist who happens to be a quiet, non-evangelical Christian, the level of overt reference to religious topics is low enough that...actually, I have a backlog of Sunday book reviews and want to post some of them during the week anyway. It's not the sort of intensively Christian book you might have expected from Tim LaHaye. Most of the time we see Dylan thinking about his job or his wife, not his religion; his temper is peppery and his language isn't always Sunday School material.

If you like the sort of long, melancholy, poignant love stories over which some women love to have a good cry, Always Grace is for you. It’s not quite as sad as Evangeline; it breaks off at a happier point than Shadowlands.

Even if you’re the sort of cynic (like me) who wonders whether Grace and Dylan would have stayed together for so long if they’d been together all the years they were faithful to each other, I must admit, Always Grace is a pleasant, satisfying, not-too-sentimental read.

Tim LaHaye is recently departed and sorely missed, especially by e-friends who continue to receive e-mail in his name. Gregory Dinallo is, however, still alive, so Always Grace is still a Fair Trade Book. Send $5 per copy, $5 per package, and $1 per online payment to either address at the very bottom of the screen, and we'll send $1 per copy to Dinallo or a charity of his choice.