Three years after her first novel, The Book of Emmett, which chronicled the trials and tribulations of a troubled family, Melbourne writer Deborah Forster covers similar territory in her second, The Meaning of Grace. It opens with an elderly woman named Grace dying of cancer in hospital, then rewinds several decades, back to when a much younger Grace and her children moved to the seaside town of Yarrabeen. They have left behind Ian, Grace’s husband and the children’s father, who suffers from chronic depression and has lost his job. He commits suicide shortly after his family leaves. In the following pages, readers learn about the tumultuous lives of Grace and her offspring. We follow Grace as she holds down two jobs to support her children. We learn about the rivalry between her daughters Edie and Juliet, and about the breakdown of her son Ted’s marriage. We follow Grace as she comes to terms with her illness.