THE THIRD GRACE
WINNER OF THE GRACE IRWIN AWARD
The past casts a long shadow — especially when it points to a woman's first love.
Her name was Mary Grace until she fell in love with the French exchange student visiting her family's Nebraska farm. François renamed her "Aglaia" — after the beautiful Third Grace of Greek mythology — and set the seventeen-year-old girl longing for something more than her parents' simplistic life and faith.
Now, fifteen years later, Aglaia works as a costume designer in Denver. Her budding success in the city's posh arts scene convinces her that she's left the country bumpkin far behind.
But "Mary Grace" has deep roots, as Aglaia learns during a business trip to Paris. Her discovery of sensual notes François jotted into a Bible during that long-ago fling, a silly errand imposed by her mother, and the scheming of her sophisticated mentor conspire to create a thirst in her soul that neither evocative daydreams nor professional success can quench.
The Third Grace is a captivating debut novel that will take you on a dual journey across oceans and time — in the footsteps of a woman torn between her rural upbringing and her search for self.
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ENDORSEMENTS AND REVIEWS
"An incredible debut novel. Through plot and theme, Elkink expertly weaves threads of mythology and troubled faith into a finely textured and compelling story of self-discovery, emphasizing the stark contrast between Aglaia's old-fashioned farm upbringing and her new life in the city. The settings, from familiar to foreign, are vivid with sound, sight, taste, and texture. Suspense tightens the weave until several unexpected revelations snap the thread of lies Aglaia has so long believed."
— Janice L. Dick, Calm Before the Storm
"Very rarely do I get to the end of a book and want to turn right around and read it all over again, but this happened with Deb Elkink's debut novel. The Third Grace was very well written, filled with scholarly and interesting research and yet with a compelling story that made me want to read it practically in one sitting. I was fascinated by the Three Graces and how they fit into an excellent and tight plot. In my opinion, The Third Grace is a novel on the order of Peace Like a River or Secret Life of Bees."
— Linda Hall, Steal Away
"G.K. Chesterton recounted the tale of a man who ventured forth only to arrive at home again and know it for the first time. Such is the remarkable pilgrimage of Aglaia Klassen in Deb Elkink's book, The Third Grace. Aglaia's journey takes her through the labyrinth of Greek mythology and to the heights of Parisian costume design. But in the end the interior journey of self-discovery is the greater distance travelled. Beautifully written, The Third Grace takes the reader on every step of Aglaia's intimate journey to arrive at true peace."
— Donna Fletcher Crow, A Darkly Hidden Truth (The Monastery Murders)
"Ms. Elkink has created a huge canvas in few pages, a novel rich in word and image... What is real and what is illusionary? What is art and what is faith? Why does our culture worship art as we lose our faith? ... These are some of the questions considered in The Third Grace... [with its] compelling moral themes of redemption and sacrificial love... [that] revolve around tradition and family, morality and Scripture... The Third Grace is a beautiful rendering of a difficult and unpopular subject, the questioning of the roles of academia and art, and the need for a resurgence of Christian faith."
— Christine Sunderland, Pilgrimage
"Deb Elkink draws us into the multiple strands of this story and sends us into three worlds as we search for the Three Graces — the world of arts and classic culture, the world of the farmer, and through the beginning-to-end scope of the Scriptures. Her sentences and phrases are rich and often surprising, like some gourmet meal. I was propelled to follow the story through to its completion. Setting aside my mundane life for the intoxicating world of the novel 'proved [I] was recovering from [my] habit of temperance' — to quote a phrase that made me chuckle. Elkink has wrapped mythology, aesthetics, and theology in a blanket of sexual tension as we unwind the mystery of the life of her protagonist. And we are at peace and relieved when all is unwrapped and in the open."
— Terry Olson; Director, Arts & Cultural Affairs, Orange County (Florida)
"The journey to uncovering buried pain can seem like an uninvited interruption, yet completely necessary if one is to laugh easily and love life. I got caught up in the life of Mary Grace [a.k.a. Aglaia] as she learned to embrace the fiber of her true heritage while disarming the lodged memories that held her captive. As one who celebrates women discovering their true inner beauty, I encountered an engaging story of self-forgiveness and courageous self-reflection. It's a page turner!"
— Audrey Meisner, Marriage Under Cover; Daily Television Host, My New Day
"The novel captivated me from the beginning . . . I look forward to more from Deb Elkink. She
is a skilled writer and powerful story-teller."
— Marcia Laycock, One Smooth Stone
"When I first picked up The Third Grace (Greenbrier Book Company ISBN 978-1-937573-00-3)
I was unprepared for the amount of research that must have been involved . . . It is a well-written
and complex story with a satisfying end to it."
— Donna Dawson, Rescued
"This is a satisfying and thought-provoking read, engaging both the heart and mind."
— Marjorie Miller, playwright
"Reader, be ready for a journey into thought and experience beyond your comfort . . ."
— Donna Mann, Aggie's Dream
"I am pleased to recommend this book to the more erudite and open-minded reader."
— Susan Barclay, blogger ("Notes from Innisfree")
"This is a thinking reader's novel . . . the story of one woman's journey to reconcile with her
past and find herself in the present."
— Janet Sketchley, writer and blogger ("God with Us: Finding Joy")
"Hard to put down, this book will cause the reader to evaluate several factors. The conclusion
realistically wraps up the fibers of the... plot."
— Pamela Green, teacher
"Elkink's writing is a tailored garment of sensuous description, trimmed with just the right
words to signal deeper meanings . . . For a reading experience as layered and sumptuous as
Aglaia's period costumes, The Third Grace by Deb Elkink won't disappoint. Could we please
have some more?"
— Violet Nesdoly, writer and blogger