From Free Press, publisher of Sufficient Grace -
When Gracie Hollaman hears voices urging her to leave home and seek a new life, she begins a journey of transformation and love that will affect many lives in two not so distant Southern towns. Putting her own family-a husband and daughter-and her old identity behind her, she is taken in by an African-American household headed by Mama Toot and Mattie, two strong and accomplished women going through life changes of their own. Gracie begins to paint enormous pictures, first of Jesus and then of angels and fairies on found objects, and both families must adapt to Gracie's new self and new calling. Through love, faith, humor, and creative expression, together these characters find connections with each other and fresh beginnings in their own lives.
Sufficient Grace brings Southern warmth, wit, and even a touch of down-home cooking to a beautifully paced story filled with pitch-perfect characters and a magical sense of an unforgettable place.
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Hard Cover ISBN: 0-7432-8447-X
Starred review in Publisher's Weekly and more...
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Advance Praise for Sufficient Grace
Sufficient Grace is not like a first novel at all, it's so full of interesting characters and ideas. Although it is often very funny---and always fun to read---this is nevertheless a profoundly serious book as well, examining both the nature of love and the kinds of nurture we all hunger for. Arnoult invites us to a feast of love, in fact, a kind of communion. I'd say that the main themes here are race, religion, and especially art. Each swift and telling scene is like a brushstroke in an impressionistic painting which shimmers with the light of revelation.
Darnell Arnoult's Sufficient Grace reminds me of Harriett Arnow's The Doll Maker and Lee Smith's Fair and Tender Ladies. It's a big story full of just about everything: good food, history, religion, medicine, family and fun. It's too good to have come from a new kid on the block, but it has and it will be read and loved by many, many readers.
Sufficient Grace is a winner, a bountiful, blessed tale, alive with insight, warmth, and humor. As many in the large cast of racially and age diverse characters in this satisfying, well-plotted story are brought from disappointment, madness, loss, and sometimes despair into connection, love, and art the reader will want to cheer them and the author. Arnoult proves with this debut novel that she is an amazing story teller who is going places.
Sufficient Grace is both a blessing and a relief. It's a relief to read a novel about the deepest truths women share, which has everything to do with courage and dignity. It is also a blessing to be shown the inner core of our hearts by someone who knows us so well.
Darnell Arnoult writes about a people and a place from deep in her heart. She breathes life into her material, drawing us into her world, a world we do not want to leave at book's end. Sufficient Grace is Flannery O'Conner possessed by Emeril, laced with canny observations about the sweetness and alienation that is family. If I were to tell you everything that's humane, witty, smart, touching, captivating in this book, I would be hoarse.
When Gracie Hollaman, the central character in Darnell Arnoult's luminous novel Sufficient Grace, hears voices telling her to leave home and seek a new life, she begins a journey into the narrow space between what is real and what is not, what is of this world and what is not, illuminating and altering the lives of everyone around her in the process. Arnoult's writing sings a hymn of praise to the possibility that dwells in shadows, the promise that waits within even the most broken among us, and the power of love in all its infinite variety. Once I started reading, I had no choice but to listen to the voices and follow where they led in this lyrical novel filled with magic and amazing grace.
A dazzling, masterful first novel that grips from the first sentence and never lets go. Long after I finished the book, I found myself thinking about Gracie--she is destined to be one of the most original and important characters in southern literature.
-Michael Lee West
Darnell Arnoult has written a beautiful novel of the special enduring love, strength, hope and, yes, grace, that is capable between mothers and daughters.
Darnell Arnoult gently slips her characters under the microscope, pulls out the hidden, examines the known and unknown, and allows the reader to connect to the love, loss, sadness, and comedic aspects that are within us all.
-Grace F. Edwards