Excerpt & Author Q&A!! The Miracle of Grace by Kate Kerrigan

Excerpt & Author Q&A!! The Miracle of Grace by Kate KerriganMiracle of Grace by Kate Kerrigan
Also by this author: Recipe for a Perfect Marriage, It Was Only Ever You
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
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Grace's life changed with a list. Left in the kitchen by her mother, Eileen, this innocuous 'To Do' list states, below bread, telephone bill and bins: 'Tell G I have ovarian cancer, probably terminal'.

Brought up in rural Ireland in the 1950s, Eileen's life has been ruled, in order, by the church, her husband and her child. She's had little time to think about herself.

But now time is running out. And Grace is determined to know everything about her mother before it's too late.

THE MIRACLE OF GRACE is a poignant, but ultimately uplifting, novel that reveals a unique relationship between a mother and her daughter.



I knew the instant I learned I was pregnant, from the moment of his conception, my child’s future was away from me. I had to take my punishment. Keeping the child was not an option; not for respectable girls who understood that it was in the child’s interests to be raised by a good Catholic family. I did not want to give my child away but I had no choice. The ability to measure ‘morality’ against my own right to happiness did not come until it was too late.
I took the train to St Albans on the day I was to hand Michael over. In my purse I had a postal order for six shillings to pay the foster-parents until a permanent home was found for him. I carried a small knitted bag with Michael’s belongings in it. Four white vests, three pairs of nappy pants, five nappies, a romper suit, two pairs of tights, a wooden rattle, a tiny blue rabbit, a dummy and two bottles.
Michael was wearing a brand-new outfit, a two- piece sailor suit with matching hat and mittens which I had bought in British Home Stores. It was a little too big for him but would be good for another few weeks. He was wrapped in a soft wool blanket which one of the girls leaving the house had given to me. As the train clacked past the outskirts of the city, I held my baby in a protective cocoon and thought vaguely of what I might do and where I would go when he was gone. We passed stations with pretty names: Cricklewood, Hendon, Mill Hill – London offered endless places to hide and explore; life here was an adventure waiting to happen, I told myself. Despite that, up until the moment we were separated, I did not fully believe I would have to give Michael away. It didn’t seem real – possible, even. It was as alien to me as the awful fact of pregnancy had been from the joyful reality of Michael when he was born. I was like a child playing on the train tracks, never really believing the train would hit me until it was too late.
I took a taxi to the orphanage, introduced myself at the office, signed the release papers, explained the con- tents of the bag and handed over the postal order without fully taking it in. When the woman smiled and reached out her arms, I did what I had always done when someone in authority asked me for something; I conceded.
As I handed Michael over, I lifted my son’s head to my face and breathed in the sweet scent of him for the last time. This was love, as certain a love as I knew I would ever find. There was nothing grey here, but a bright white certainty; love that came with no price, no duty, no questions. I breathed in on my tears, kissed him a silent goodbye, then breathed out bravely and placed him in the arms of the worker. I held the edge of the blanket for a few seconds, realizing that I wanted to keep it as a memento. When it came loose, the worker looked at me quizzically. I said, ‘Sorry,’ then tucked it back into the crook of the stranger’s arm which now held my son. I did not touch Michael one last time. I loved him so much I was able to give him away. He would be taken into a good family who would give him a good life. I could not keep him because I had nothing to offer him. All I had was a mother’s love. It was hard giving him up, but the past few months had taught me that sometimes life required you to do hard things.
At twenty, I could not possibly have known that it would be the hardest thing I would ever have to do in my life.


  • How do you come up with your ideas? Are they character or concept driven?
    A bit of both. The concept comes first – but then once the characters present themselves and start to develop depth as they do in those early chapters, the story becomes theirs and they drive the narrative absolutely.
  • You often have dual timelines. Why is that? What is it about historical fiction that interests you so much?
    I am fascinated by how the differences in our historical circumstances shape who we are and how we behave – especially in the way it affects our emotional landscapes. Stoicism, for instance, has gone way out of fashion as a way of being – yet it was a way of life for so many women, for so long – forced into unhappy marriages by religion for or utterly financially dependant on men they did not love. Yet – so much of what was good about value systems in the past: loyalty, a strong sense of identity and place – still hold true today. I love drawing comparisons between how things were and how they are now and showing how while history may alter our circumstances, in the most real, important sense human beings never fundamentally change. For all the freedom and money history has given us women in the western world – are we any happier now than our grandmothers were?
  • What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
    Starting and finishing: one week at either end. Finishing is best. Honestly? The rest is pretty much just hard work: I write out of a compulsion to tell the story not because I enjoy the act of writing itself. The longer I do it – the less I feel I know about writing and the harder it gets! I get very close to my characters and I cry a lot. It’s an emotional rollercoaster – and I am always a bit sad to get off at the end – but relieved too.
    Describe a typical day as a writer.
    On a good day, I go into my accountants office, work from 9-5 and get 1,500 words written – this is what I intend every working day to be. However most days, I go into my accountants office, work from 9-5 and get 500 words written and know it’s not enough. On a bad day I get distracted by life. I chase around shopping, collecting kids, doing hideous admin., having lunch with my mother – I get nothing written and get whipped up into a state of blind panic at not having written anything. I have a lot of bad days.
    Which authors inspire you?
    People who write from the heart: Marian Keyes, Patrick McCabe – a lesser known but brilliant Irish writer called Frank Ronan. Probably the biggest influences over my lifetime as a reader and writer have been Agatha Christie for plot and PG Wodehouse for his vocabulary and use of language. I never read historical fiction – I don’t have the confidence! However – for pleasure and relaxation I rarely read anything other than contemporary thrillers – David Balducci is my current thrill!
    Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
    Just write, write, write – don’t be discouraged and keep going. Writing is 1% talent and 99% hard work and tenacity. I found writing groups and courses fantastic in my pre-published days. It’s not always easy to motivate yourself and a good writing group can really give you the encouragement and support you need.
    What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
    Identification with the characters and at least one lesson they can relate to their own lives.tagbuy