Returning to Belfast after a long absence, to attend her father's funeral, Catherine McKenna - a young composer - remembers exactly why she left; the claustrophobic intimacies of the Catholic enclave, her fastidious, nagging mother, and the pervading tensions of a city at war with itself. She remembers a more innocent time, when the Loyalists' Lambeg drums sounded mysterious and exciting; she remembers her shattered relationship with the drunken, violent Dave; she remembers the child she had with him, waiting back in Glasgow. A novel about coming to terms with the past, and the healing power of music, GRACE NOTES is a master story-teller's triumphant return to the long form: a powerful lyrical novel of great distinction.
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Booker Prize shortlist, 1997