To commemorate becoming a septuagenarian Grace’s table bustles with the presence of twelve guests. As family and close friends share a birthday meal to celebrate Grace’s grand milestone, memories and recollections occupy Grace’s thoughts and a disturbing undercurrent of simmering angst begins to boil to the surface amongst the family. Her son is there with his family, one of Grace’s daughter is there too. However one of Grace’s daughters is questionably absent.
Grace’s daughter who is present stands side-by-side in the kitchen with Grace whilst they prepare, peel, boil, cook and stir. Although she offers her assistance, her daughter bristles and simply cannot understand why Grace didn’t book a restaurant where they could sit comfortably whilst someone else does all the hard work. However Grace is determined woman and sure that she her birthday and her family are special to warrant a home-cooked meal and private celebration. Grace prepares traditional dishes that echo classics from the Country Women’s Association and the Australian Women’s Weekly classic. She specifically prepares food that she knows are her children’s favourite dishes. . Throughout the course of the day and the meal many truths surface, until the afternoon wanes and only thing left is the cathartic process of cleaning up and restoring order.
This novel succinctly captures the nuances of family life and a bygone era of Australian life. An era filled of road trips, melted ice-creams, sun-warmed mangoes, knitted doilies, formica tables, baked custard and sponge cake (just like those at the country fair), and lamb roasts with homemade mint sauce.
Sally Piper is a Brisbane, Queensland resident. Grace’s table is her debut publication. It was shortlisted for the 2011 Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards – Emerging Queensland author category.