1. Who is the plot based around?
MARY GRACE KLASSEN (a.k.a. AGLAIA) is a big-city costume designer;
FRANÇOIS VIVIER (a French summer exchange student) jilted Aglaia when he fled back to Paris fifteen years ago; DR. LOU CHAPMAN (Aglaia’s mentor) is a self-serving professor; EBENEZER MACADAM (Aglaia’s boss at Incognito Costume Shop) is a fine, mystical old gent who has her best interests at heart.
2. What is the main idea of the plot?
A costume designer, overwhelmed by memories of the summer she was seventeen and fell in love with the French exchange student visiting her parents’ farm, discovers amorous notes he jotted long ago into the margins of a Bible he left behind. She’s now on her way to Paris looking for her old flame—and herself.
3. When does the plot take place?
The story unfolds in “Aglaia’s” world today, with many flashbacks to the summer “Mary Grace” was seventeen.
4. Where does the plot take place?
The Third Grace is set on the streets of Paris, a farm in the sand hills of Nebraska, and the city of Denver.
5. Why did the plot develop the way it did?
My characters have strongly juxtaposed values. Aglaia, running from her past but unable to escape the memories, views her mentor as a model of success and the key to artistic validation; meanwhile, Dr. Lou Chapman is playing her. Eb MacAdam, Aglaia’s boss with his own life regrets, has plans to prosper her and give her a hopeful future. The plot grows out of the dark mythology that François murmurs into Aglaia’s ear, twisted in with elements of death, abandonment, and avarice, with friendship, faith, and family.
6. How did you come up with the idea for the plot?
I discovered a marble statue grouping in the Louvre on my first trip to Paris in 1989—a Greek Renaissance sculpture by James Pradier of The Three Graces. These goddesses became iconic for me and I decided to arrange my debut novel around them, as they symbolized the relationships between women as well as the twisted spirituality implicit in mythology—both relationship and theology of great interest to me. I was at this time still living on our isolated cattle ranch on the Canadian prairies, and the contrast between city and country, aesthetics and common sense, sophistication and practical living really hit home. I’d succumbed to the enchantment of French culture (the cuisine! the couture! the romantic language!) and wanted to explore the contrast between it and my own heritage rooted in the Mennonite faith—to say nothing of my intention to relive that teenaged feeling of falling in love.
Back when she was seventeen, Mary Grace fell in love with the French exchange student visiting her family’s Nebraska farm. François renamed her “Aglaia,” after one of the enchanting Three Graces of Greek mythology, and set her heart yearning for something more than her parents’ simplistic life and faith. Now, fifteen years later, Aglaia designs costumes in Denver, and her budding success in the city’s posh arts scene convinces her that she’s left the farm girl far behind. But “Mary Grace” has deep roots, as Aglaia learns during a business trip to Paris. Her discovery of sensual notes that François jotted into a Bible during the long-ago fling, a silly errand imposed by her mother, and the scheming of her sophisticated mentor all conspire to send her on a dual journey across oceans and time in a search for herself.
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Greenbrier Book Company
Release Date: December 1, 2011
Buy Links: Amazon, Kindle, Amazon Canada, Barnes and Noble, Nook, Chapters/Indigo, Kobo
When author and city-slicker Deb Elkink fell in love and married an introverted cowboy, she moved from her bright lights to his isolated cattle ranch far off in the prairie grasslands. Still—between learning to pilot a light aircraft, sewing for a costume rental store, and cooking for branding crews of a hundred—Deb graduated with a B.A. in Communications from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN; she also holds an M.A. in Theology (both summa cum laude).
Her award-winning debut novel, THE THIRD GRACE, is set in the contrasting locales of Parisian street and Nebraskan farmyard, and incorporates Greek mythology and aesthetics with the personal search for self. Her writing has been described as “layered and sumptuous,” “compelling,” and “satisfying.”
Links to connect with Deb: