Preparing for her husband’s retirement from his parish, Michele Guinness, author of ‘The Guinness Legend’, decided to clear out the attic and in doing so rediscovered a trunk of letters, diaries, journals and notebooks, over one hundred years old, belonging to Grace Guinness, Peter’s grandmother.
Most famous for her unconventional marriage to renowned speaker and evangelist Henry Grattan Guinness, Grace’s journals reveal an extraordinary woman who in many ways was before her time: a rebel against the constraints of her narrow religious upbringing, unconventional in her choice of husband, defiant of a society that frowned on a well-bred single mother going out to work, a businesswoman who ran her own hotel, and an early feminist who believed in birth control.
She worked until she was in her seventies, read The Times every day, got through at least one book a week and could comment eruditely on politics, science, philosophy, theology, music and literature… This was a woman who wrote in a frank and sometimes risqu‚ way about her life, love, hopes and fears, and encouraged others to break some of the taboos of their generation.
In ‘Grace’, Michele Guinness weaves together the revealing contents of Grace’s own words with her own to create a unique and inspiring interpretation of this remarkable woman’s life and times
“I have written about it all – my incredibly rich little life: so many precious memories committed to diaries, letters and journals, and stored in a large trunk under my bed. Perhaps one or other of my dear children or grandchildren may find them an interesting record – of a rarefied childhood in old Queen Victoria’s reign, a surprising marriage to a major celebrity from a prestigious family who swept me up into his worldwide travels, a young widow left with two children to support at a time when there were so few working opportunities available to women; of two cataclysmic world wars in which I played a not insignificant part, of a lonely bedsit existence, and now, at last, in those so-called “swinging sixties”, promotion from impecunious companion to lady of the manor at last.”