Member Review

Cover Image: The Three Graces

The Three Graces

Pub Date:

Review by

Stephen D, Educator

Amanda Craig's latest novel is a joy to read. Set in Tuscany in Spring 2022, it offers a memorable and diverse cast of characters, an intriguing plot full of unexpected but satisfying twists, a beautifully evoked Tuscan setting, and highly topical and incisive social commentary on many of the issues facing us in today's society, including the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the migrant crisis, an ageing population and 'Generation Rent'.

At the heart of the novel are the eponymous 'three graces', three expat octogenarians living in the Tuscan hill town of Santorno: aristocratic Diana Evenlode, a former debutante living in reduced circumstances as she cares for her husband who is suffering from dementia; widowed Marta Konnig, a renowned concert pianist; and divorced American-Jewish psychotherapist Ruth Viner, who is now playing reluctant host to her hedge-fund manager grandson's wedding to a social media influencer. Like all characters in the novel. these three women are flawed but lovable and retain plenty of strength and spirit even as their bodies start to fail them. As well as these three ladies and the various wedding guests, the plot incorporates a local Russian oligarch in exile and migrants from Africa and Albania, one of whom is shot by Italian local Enzo in the novel's prologue.

There are a lot of balls to keep in the air, and Craig manages this with great skill. I was completely absorbed by the novel which moves deftly between different perspectives and features lots of cliffhanger endings to chapters. More than this, however, I was impressed by the generosity of Craig's writing. The novel allows us to consider complex issues from different points of view without judgement: we hear Ruth's resentment at her freeloading grandson and fiancée when she feels that she has worked hard all her life, but we also hear Marta's mixed-race grandson Xan's anger at generational inequality and the racial prejudice he has faced. The hardships faced by migrants are compassionately explored but Craig also gives voice to Enzo and his fellow Italians' frustrations at the impact of mass migration on their communities. The novel doesn't seek to legitimise Enzo's thoughts or actions but nor does it offer easy answers. Instead, there is an expansiveness to Craig's moral vision as characters and readers both develop empathy - there is even hope for the seemingly vapid vlogger and hedge-fund manager. The result is a profoundly moving, entertaining and timely read, reminiscent of Anthony Trollope's novels which are so beloved by Ruth and Diana.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an ARC of this superb novel to review!
Buy on Amazon Buy on
*This page contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.