cover image Shades of Grace

Shades of Grace

Barbara Delinsky. HarperCollins Publishers, $22 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-017781-2

A tale of three women whose lives are affected by a tragic disease, Delinsky's (For My Daughters) latest novel adroitly pulls the heartstrings while exploring generational responsibilities. After years of giving advice in her nationally syndicated newspaper column, ``The Confidante,'' domineering Grace Dorian, 61, has a problem she can't share even with her only child and dependable assistant, Francine. Some months after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, Grace grudgingly permits handsome Dr. Davis Marcoux to tell her daughter the truth. But she still clings to one secret: the true identity of Francine's father. Francine is a divorced mother of Sophie, a 23-year-old diabetic, who also works on the column and has resented her grandmother as a rival for her mother's love. For her part, Francine is determined to protect ``The Confidante'' and keep the public--including an aggressive reporter, Robin Duffy--from discovering her mother's condition. She begins to ghostwrite the columns while also embarking on a romance with Dr. Marcoux. To help her mother write her promised autobiography, Francine hires Robin, whose own mother was one of Grace's ardent admirers. Delinsky creates only lukewarm suspense in Francine's and Robin's respective quests to unearth Grace's secret past, but readers will sympathize with the characters as each comes to grips with a life-changing situation. (Jan.)