Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Book Review: 'Grace in Mombasa: Inspired by real events. From war torn England to historic Mombasa. A life in two parts.' by Tracy Traynor

Grace in Mombasa by Tracy Traynor

‘The biggest lesson I learnt whilst in Mombasa, is that you can’t out give God.’

British author T (Tracy) Traynor struggled with dyslexia as a child but eventually overcame her handicap and proceeded to pursue her dream as an author of magical tales ‘with the empowerment of 'spell-check' and with the help of friends.’ As she states in her bio, ‘At the age of 40, she became a single mom and with four sons to look after she decided to go back to college. She is now a successful Finance Manager and has turned her life around. Her underlying message - to believe in yourself and overcome the past. Her biggest dream is that people who struggle to read, like herself, will be able to pick up this easy-to-read book and forget about their problems for a while as they escape in this world she has created. She adds, ‘I became a Christian in 1990, at the age of thirty, whilst living in Kenya. It was a time of great learning and excitement for me as I gave myself fully to the Lord and became extremely hungry for his Word.’

Tracy writes history well, opening her book with the roots of her story in 1912 - “You need to prepare yourself, if she survives the night it will only be by the grace of God.” The doctor stood tall and straight, he appeared aloof and certainly could have given the news in a gentler fashion, but he was exhausted and barely had the energy to stand, let alone offer words of solace and compassion. His working day started over twelve hours before and the midwife should not have called him, because there was nothing he could have done for the poor woman, and she surely would have known that. The gentleman to whom he spoke so harshly appeared crushed, and with good cause, for the master joiner and his son had recently carried out the man’s dead wife and now he’d been given the news that his new-born daughter was knocking on death’s door. Unable to offer comfort, the doctor picked up his medical bag and hastened out of the once quaint bedroom. With black-timber ceiling beams and whitewashed walls, and with a pretty, woolen carpet in the middle of the room, this had been a tranquil bedroom, but now it was tarnished with blood and grief. A sad affair to be sure. He inclined his head towards the weary midwife on the stairs as she headed back up to help the vicar care for his dying child. “Good night, Mrs Brown.” “Good night, Doctor.” Elsa stood in the bedroom doorway for a moment as the doctor made his own way out of the house. Her old, lined face was heavy with sadness as she stared at the back of the vicar’s head. He’d hardly moved since his wife had passed and she imagined his knees must be hurting something awful. His hands, that had held Annie’s hand until she’d been taken away, were now clasped so tightly his knuckles had turned white. Praying, and apparently with no answer. She needed to get him downstairs so she could strip the bed before the smell took an irremovable hold. “Eclampsia be a God-awful thing,” she said without thinking. He looked at her blankly. “Oh,” she said, clasping her hand over her mouth. “I be awfully remorseful at the utterance that falls out of my big stupid mouth, Vicar.” “It’s all right, Mrs Brown. I agree with you, tis a God-awful thing.” All at once, the realisation that God hadn’t stepped in to save his Annie hit him like the thud of a bullet. The pain in his chest crushed him and he moaned, dropping his head onto the bed, finally giving way to an inconsolable flood of tears. Elsa had been a midwife for the last twenty years and was well used to the deaths of both mothers and infants, but somehow, looking at the vicar, it seemed worse, for surely he must feel as if his God had let him down?’ The birth of Grace – the inspiration behind Moira Smith. 

The book is lengthy but Tracy’s synopsis condenses the story well – ‘Inspired by true events. Grace in Mombasa is an intriguing historical saga of betrayal and loss, romance and heartbreak, and one woman’s journey in faith. From the day she was born, Grace Clifton has navigated a life of loss and heartbreak, without a mother to guide her and through the ravages of two World Wars. With England in the midst of a Second World War, Grace experiences the excitement of love and romance, but all too soon, it turns to heartbreak. Through it all, Grace is sustained by her unwavering faith in God, but when all she holds dear is ripped away from her, Grace is left devastated and doubting everything she’s ever believed in. As the world slowly recovers from war, Grace too begins the process of healing from bitterness and the deep wounds inflicted by life. However, her steadfastness to God is lost and she determines never to pray again. When an unexpected opportunity comes up in Kenya, Grace seizes the chance to escape the memories, hoping to find a purpose and build a new life for herself. In the city of Mombasa, Grace soon begins to realise she can’t ever distance herself from life’s complications, but if she’s prepared to open her heart, maybe her shattered faith will once more bring her hope, love and the healing that she desperately needs. Grace in Mombasa is a story about a woman with amazing faith that is shattered when her life falls apart, but will God simply let her go?’

We have a giant in our midst – a dream spinner and talisman creator who is most assuredly poised for a successful career as an important author. 

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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