Ellie Summers was doing fine - supporting her artist boyfriend by painting people's houses from photos while he creates installations that are too far beyond the limited confines of most people's ideas about what art 'should' be. But when she became pregnant, and he wanted no part of it, Ellie realised she hadn't been in love with him for quite some time. Determined to keep the baby, well aware her parents will be distantly supportive but not offer her a place to stay, and without means, Ellie discovers a perfect house to paint while dropping off a previously commissioned work.
Grace Soudley's trying to get her life back together after a friendly but devastating divorce - she wanted kids and her husband, now up to marriage three, didn't want any more than the teen daughter he already has. Her ex let her keep the house (left to her by her aunt/godmother) but took all his furniture. The settlement paid for a new roof, but now she's skint, and her irate older sister (who, along with their high achieving brother, was only left the furniture and contents the house originally contained) wants her to sell up and split the proceeds.
Grace spontaneously invites Ellie to come and stay with her, and before either of them know it, both women have the families they've always wanted, security, and love.
This is standard Fforde fare, and none the less enjoyable for that. The main characters (Ellie, Grace, and step-daughter Demi) were fun and engaging, the antiheroes (Ellie's ex, Grace's sister and her husband's first wife) were gratifyingly irritating, and the dual romances were different enough to easily keep separate. I found the end-tying a little too neat, Ellie's final line ("it seems to me Grace is definitely restored") was unnecessary, and the constant spelling of "affair" with a terminal "e" was teeth grinding every time, but all in all Restoring Grace was well worth the effort. - Alex