Kathryn Magendie has a magical way with words. They bubble out unchecked onto the page to cascade over readers like a cool mountain waterfall. But those words in "TENDER GRACES" don't just flow prettily; there are scenes and chapters so poignant or devastating, readers will be swept away and left wanting for oxygen. Besides the absorbing plot and characters, Magendie's unique fresh voice and lyrical turns of phrase are gifts she gives to readers, and which last long after the last page is read. Powerful stuff for a debut novel. Angie Ledbetter, Author of Seeds of Faith
Tender Graces is a thoroughly enjoyable, big, family saga. Filled with rich language, and down-home wisdom, Kat's tale will leave you charmed, seduced, and fully satisfied by a cast of offbeat, lovable characters. Don't miss this one! --Barbara Quinn, author of 36C, Slings and Arrows, The Speed of Dark
Kathryn Magendie’s style—and for me style is everything, character, setting the fictive experience—is immediately arresting, engaging, and flows with the reader in its embrace through all the episodes, moving from humor, to lyricism, to melancholy, to pathos. Readers will hear about the voice in TENDER GRACES and rush out to buy and listen to that voice, familiar and yet with tonalities not yet heard, igniting delight never before quite felt. --David Madden, Novelist (Author of Cassandra Singing, Bijou, Abducted by Circumstance, and many more), Playwright, Teacher
A novel that reads like a poem to childhood and growing up. --Ed Cullen, author of Letter in a Woodpile, features writer for the Baton Rouge Advocate, and contributor to All Things Considered on National Public Radio
It was my wonderfully good fortune to meet fellow writer Kathryn Magendie. She has what it takes and reminds me of a Barbara Kingsolver or Anne Tyler. The way Kathryn Magendie writes is the way writing is supposed to be done - it pulls out everything - feelings, emotions, laughter, tears, and truths. Her work made me laugh, cry, think, and marvel at her choice of wording and description. --Susan Reinhardt, Author of Not Tonight Honey--Wait 'til I'm a size 6, Don't Sleep With A Bubba: Unless Your Eggs Are In Wheelchairs, and Dishing With the Kitchen Virgin
Kathryn Magendie's TENDER GRACES leaves a ghostly trail of broken hearts from by-God West Virginia to Texas to the shimmering seasons of Louisiana where real love and an unexpected home is found for a lost child. Reminiscent of early Lee Smith and Silas House, Magendie's Virginia Kate Carey is the steady beating pulse of this beautiful narrative that sweeps through a lifetime of loss, grief, and ultimately redemption and what it means to go home again. --Kerry Madden, author of Gentle’s Holler and Louisiana’s Song
Kathryn Magendie's TENDER GRACES is a powerful, moving and beautifully written debut. With rich detail, vivid imagery and finely drawn characters who leap off the page, drag you into their lives and make you root for them, this book will command your attention all the way to the final page...and leave you wishing for more. --Danielle Younge-Ullman, author of Falling Under
Tender Graces is about memory and what Tony Morrison called thick love, which is both present and past, both filling Virginia Kate Carey’s today and dissipating like ashes of yesterdays. Although the setting of Tender Graces is local, its appeal blows the borders of the South to such an extent that even a double foreigner like me (to the place and the local lingo) feels at home in the prose. --Adnan Mahmutovic, Author: Thinner, Refugee.
In her debut novel, TENDER GRACES, Kathryn Magendie stitches together the story of a family, which, like a quilt, is worn in places and frayed at the edges, but is so true and warm you'll want to wrap yourself up in its pages and be pulled into its comfort. This is a book you'll want to read slowly and savor. --Judy Merrill Larsen, author of All the Numbers
A beautiful and haunting southern literary novel, which will evoke laughter and tug at your heartstrings. I’m eagerly awaiting the continuation of the Virginia Kate sagas. --Kim Michele Richardson, author of The Unbreakable Child
Every so often, if you're fortunate enough, you'll find a book that not only captures your attention and imagination, it captures your heart. Kathryn Magendie's characters are so vivid and memorable, and the story so poignant, one hates for TENDER GRACES to end. The voice of the West Virginia mountains holds true in every aspect of Magendie's work, which leaves one begging for more and wondering where this gifted writer has been hiding all these years! --Deborah LeBlanc, Author of Family Inheritance, Grave Intent, A House Divided, Morbid Curiosity, and Water Witch
Print Publication's Reviews
Magendie’s novel is the fictional biography of Virginia Kate Carey. The story unfolds partly in retrospective, but mostly in the present tense, first-person voice of Virginia Kate. She is the daughter of a wild yet beautiful West Virginia mountain woman, Katie Ivene Holmes, and the Shakespeare-quoting, kitchen-tool-peddling Texan, Frederick Hale Carey, who comes to the cabin where she lives. It’s the 1950s and Frederick is trying to sell pots and pans. He talks to Katey Ivene’s mother, but it’s the daughter that catches his eye. This is a novel of family, both good and bad, and what can happen when people allow their personal desires to overwhelm their concern for their children. It’s a well-told story that would almost, but not quite, fit in the Young Adult category. It’s a good book for older teens and adults...for the rest of the review, read it in the Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper, or read it online at 2theadvocate.com/books.
Kathryn Magendie, a West Virginia woman who came to Western North Carolina via South Louisiana, shows why plot is just the wheels of a narrative vehicle. Without voice, character, poetry and detail also, all you've got is a go-kart. In her debut novel, “Tender Graces,” Magendie builds up the plot — a prodigal daughter story — into a sustained entertainment through an exuberant mountain portrayal. Virginia Kate Carey, Magendie's heroine, comes home to her holler to get her mother's ashes. Her grandmother's spectral voice and inherited diary guide her through a remembering process, and the supernatural and secondhand elements yield to something more immediate. “Tender Graces” provides a seat at the all-too-real Carey table....for the rest of the review by Rob Neufeld, read the Asheville Citizen Times.
Magendie has done a masterful job of weaving family tragedies into a fabric that supports the story of how they survive a brutal childhood... read the review in The Moutaineer Publishing Company's The Guide in Western North Carolina.
A force of lyrical storytelling . . . Some of the most poignant passages in literature are uttered by children: Tom Sawyer, Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, and Ree Dolly in Daniel Woodrell’s Winter Bone — all are juvenile protagonists who relate the events of their lives with candor. Perhaps Kathryn Magendie gave her child protagonist a narrator’s “voice” because when a children address us, they usually speak with unabashed honesty, relating without guile, the anguish of growing up in a families shattered by either alcoholism, mental illness or divorce. In Kathryn Magendie’s Tender Graces, spunky, little Virginia Kate Carey must cope with all three...for the rest of the review, read it in The Smoky Mountain News, or read online at Smoky Mountain News online.
A small sampling of Online Reviews
This is an intriguing family saga that grips the audience due to the changing voice of the narrator from a seemingly innocent naive little girl to an adult woman trying to free herself when she frees her late mom. The cast is fully developed as the audience can subtly understand the maturing of the three children especially the daughter who tells the drama of a beautiful volatile mom seemingly larger than life and the more stable than the raging dad. Their wars before the split never left their three offspring as the child is the adult. Fans will enjoy this deep look at a dysfunctional family in the 1950s, 60s and 70s . . . Harriet Klausner, Midwest Book Reviews.
Some of the most poignant passages in literature are uttered by children: Tom Sawyer, Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, and Ree Dolly in Daniel Woodrell’s Winter Bone - all are juvenile protagonists who relate the events of their lives with candor. Perhaps Kathryn Magendie gave her child protagonist a narrator’s “voice” because when a children address us, they usually speak with unabashed honesty, relating without guile, the anguish of growing up in a families shattered by either alcoholism, mental illness or divorce. In Kathryn Magendie’s Tender Graces, spunky, little Virginia Kate Carey must cope with all three... read the rest of the review at Holler Notes.
This is one of those wonderfully written books that tell a tale of families that are often times a bad mix, sometimes even poisonous to each other, but somehow manage to pull through with a deep and abiding love for each other - even when it's not deserved... read the rest of the review at Dew on the Kudzu A Southern Ezine.
Tender Graces is a complex novel of powerful characters in exotic settings wrestling with life's relentless and all too puzzling demands. It is by turns horrifying and exhilarating, hilarious and all too real. It has one of the most unlikely heroes in modern fiction. I know you've heard that before, but this hero isn't a ghost or a man from Mars, it is a woman who emerged from her own troubled past and became through her own efforts a normal human being. Normal in a clinical, not a statistical sense. A woman whose very normalcy transforms, and challenges, all the other characters in the novel. And maybe the reader as well. [...] Despite its appearance, Tender Graces is not a woman's book, at least not exclusively. It is a very adult book in which very real characters wrestle with life's complexities and come to their own conclusions....read the rest of the review at An Explorer's View of Life.
Virginia Kate Carey has come home to West Virginia to release her mother’s ashes to the wind, but the feral Katie Ivene will not be laid to rest so gently. Powerful as a hurricane roaring through the lives of her husband and three children, Katie Ivene left an alcoholic trail of emotional devastation in her path, because when she loved, she loved magnificently, and when she hated, she hated fiercely. Virginia Kate’s only hope to bury her mother and her memories is to set free the words that will tell their story, and she does so with aplomb...read the rest of the review at BookLove-A Place to Share Books.
In the tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird, Tender Graces is a moving tale told through the unfiltered thoughts of a young girl. Unfortunately, Virginia Kate Carey and her siblings have no Atticus Finch to usher them through the ups and downs of childhood. As the adult Virginia Kate struggles to reconcile painfully conflicted feelings about her dead "Momma," the young Virginia Kate, "Seestor" as her brothers call her, tells the story of the confused, at times tormented, adults in her life, who often reverse roles with their children. The only fairly steady figure is stepmother Rebekha, and even she is riddled with self-doubt and requires bolstering from VK at times...read the rest of the review at Cross Reference, A book Review Blog.
~ Diane Buccheri, Publisher, OCEAN Magazine