The Grace of a Nightingale is a brilliantly heartfelt odyssey of survival. Even in her darkest moments, Mary Anne’s courage and faith, combined with her passionate appreciation of beauty in nature, books and music, bring glimpses of light and hope.
Mary Anne’s story is both ordinary and extraordinary. Ordinary because she was searching for the same things many of us search for: love, understanding and purpose; and extraordinary because she had to go through hell to find them.
Her life was turbulent. Born in a decaying northern town to a dysfunctional family in the 1960s, Mary Anne had to endure mental, physical, and sexual abuse and cope with the devastating effects of parental alcoholism and suicide. She had her self-esteem and confidence crushed by two disastrous marriages, and she lives with the emotional and physical scars caused by a surgical procedure that has become the medical scandal of our age: mesh implants. But, despite everything, she always remained determined to endure and to find something better.
The Grace of a Nightingale is a brilliantly heartfelt odyssey of survival. Even in her darkest moments, Mary Anne’s courage and faith, combined with her passionate appreciation of beauty in nature, books and music, bring glimpses of light and hope. On her journey through life, Mary Anne’s mat carriers, both friends and strangers, supported her triumph over adversity. And, like all the best stories, there is a happy ending.
There is a religious theme that doesn’t resonate with me, but I understand that spirituality is a broad church!
Please give this a go, and you won’t regret it.
Her story was raw and beautiful: Mary-Anne’s life shared as words of art, took me into a world where pain and beauty lay side-by-side. Her story was raw and truthful and beautiful—she didn’t hold back from taking us into her real world—our world where suffering and love, shame and courage co-exist, often presenting themselves simultaneously. The Grace of a Nightingale teaches us that there is always Grace in moments of pain and suffering and something to hope for.
An emotional rollercoaster with no guarantees: I read this book a couple of months ago and “loved” it if you can “love” such a troubled and turbulent tale. I felt it deserved a more considered read, so I have elected to read it aloud to my other half. This was a smart move as the enforced slower pace of reading aloud does more justice to the depth of the telling. It allows each detail to settle and builds the story session by session (usually splitting chapters into several smaller pieces). Hearing it out loud also teases out more of the reality of the issues it explores. Many of the situations encountered have stimulated conversation and reflection between my husband and I, taking us away from the normal topics of discussion.
It would make an ideal piece for group discussion, for both general book groups and more specific gatherings (e.g. victim support). There are many hurdles along the way, but always a sense of hope and inner strength despite the adversities. I don’t think we’ve heard the last from Mary Anne, I do hope so.
The cost of transformation: I have had the enriching and joyful privilege of knowing Mary Anne Willow for many years. In her book, she can share her story in a manner that reveals she has personally experienced the truth of the quote from Gerard W. Hughes that she uses in her book, “Our treasure lies hidden in the inner life which results from that experience.” I am a spiritual director and retreat facilitator, and I will recommend her book to people.
A worthy memoir: This memoir is thought-provoking, sad, and uplifting at the same time. I don’t know how the author managed it, but she dug deep within her soul to write the story. This book will challenge stereotypes and reveal what we could, as a society, do to help children subtly abused as children.
What permeates through her book are the quotes that added to the story she was telling. I can go on and on, and I hope that when people read this woman’s story, they’ll see a mirror of themselves and know there is hope.
A story of courage and hope:
What an excellent book this is!
It is a story of hope and courage and of keeping on going whatever life throws at you. Mary Anne has known the agony of life and the ecstasy and has told her story in a way that readers can connect to even if their experiences have not been as painful or difficult as hers. To read The Grace of a Nightingale is to enter into the life of a woman who inspires the reader to learn from her triumph over tragedy. To read this book is to be enriched and encouraged that it is possible for courage and hope to overcome cruelty, despair, grief, bewilderment and deep disappointments. It also describes beautifully how the support of others, both human and animal, helps us through the hard times. This is woven together with Mary Anne’s faith and trust in the power, goodness and love of the life-giver.
I highly recommend the reading of this inspirational book.