In her best-selling debut, Commencement, J. Courtney Sullivan explored the complicated and contradictory landscape of female friendship. Now, in her highly anticipated second novel, Sullivan takes us into even richer territory, introducing four unforgettable women who have nothing in common but the fact that, like it or not, they're family.
For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where children run in packs, showers are taken outdoors, and old Irish songs are sung around a piano. Their beachfront property, won on a barroom bet after the war, sits on three acres of sand and pine nestled between stretches of rocky coast, with one tree bearing the initials "A.H." At the cottage, built by Kelleher hands, cocktail hour follows morning mass, nosy grandchildren snoop in drawers, and decades-old grudges simmer beneath the surface.
As three generations of Kelleher women descend on the property one summer, each brings her own hopes and fears. Maggie is thirty-two and pregnant, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her imperfect boyfriend the news; Ann Marie, a Kelleher by marriage, is channeling her domestic frustration into a dollhouse obsession and an ill-advised crush; Kathleen, the black sheep, never wanted to set foot in the cottage again; and Alice, the matriarch at the center of it all, would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, long ago.
By turns wickedly funny and achingly sad, Maine unveils the sibling rivalry, alcoholism, social climbing, and Catholic guilt at the center of one family, along with the abiding, often irrational love that keeps them coming back, every summer, to Maine and to each other.
©2011 J. Courtney Sullivan (P)2011 Random House Audio
"I have never stayed at this cottage in Maine, or any cottage in Maine, but no matter: I now feel I know what it's like being in a family that comes to the same place summer after summer, unpacking their familiar longings, slights, shorthand conversation, and ways of being together. J. Courtney Sullivan's Maine is evocative, funny, close-quartered, and highly appealing." (Meg Wolitzer, author of The Uncoupling)
"Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan is a powerful novel about the ties that bind families tight, no matter how dysfunctional. Sullivan has created in the Kelleher women a cast of flawed but lovable characters so real, with their shared history of guilt and heartache and secret resentments, that I’m sure I’ll be thinking about them for a long time to come." (Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot)
"Everyone has dark secrets. It’s why God invented confession and booze, two balms frequently employed in Sullivan’s well-wrought sophomore effort. Alice Brennan is Irish American through and through, the daughter of a cop, a good Catholic girl so outwardly pure that she’s a candidate for the papacy... As Sullivan’s tale unfolds, there are plenty of reasons that Alice might wish to avoid taking too close a look at her life: There’s tragedy and heartbreak around every corner, as there is in every life... Sullivan spins a leisurely yarn that looks into why people do the things they do - particularly when it comes to drinking and churchgoing - and why the best-laid plans are always the ones the devil monkeys with the most thoroughly. The story will be particularly meaningful to Catholic women, though there are no barriers to entry for those who are not of that faith. Mature, thoughtful, even meditative at times - but also quite entertaining." (Kirkus)
I have a busy career, travel a lot and don't have much time to read, so I listen to Audio books. I love reading!
I hope this author writes another nove soon.
The overall performance of the narrator was really good too.
The story is about a family, their rise and downfall, the family members as individuals and all their airs, graces and secrets. A good read!
The story of a NE matriarch and her daughters, daughter in law and grand daughter… if ever there was a woman more spiteful and hateful and self-important, it is Alice. The author paints a totally unflattering picture of a family so dysfunctional and unappetizing, and ultimately so pointless, I kept wondering when it would get to any real plot. It never did. It is told serially by each character in a back in forth montage of perspective covering day to day to year to year family events, as seen through the women's mostly battered lenses. Like the old song, there aint no good guys, there aint no bad guys, there's just you and me and we just disagree. Not sure who is calling Alice at the end, but I have my suspicions!
How that translates into a novel, well, for me, it just didn't. It is our February book club selection, so it was homework.
Yes, a good story about the different and complex perspectives of an average american family.
Yes, good story not to complicated. Good read.
No, from the deep character development in the book you understand how they are going to move on with their lives without the house in Maine or without Alice.
I will try one more.
I love well written sagas that cross generations. The characters were interesting, the story well developed and the plot was non formulaic.
Absolutely worth the listening time.
I feel misled by all the talk of it as a "beach read." That implies a fun book, light hearted, romantic maybe intriquing. But this book was about family problems that never get fixed. And there is a huge logic problem that is never addressed. Grandma's big sacrifice to make up for past sins isn't a sacrifice for her, just for the rest of her family.
Alice needs to be set straight.
Performance was great.
I just couldn't care about any of the characters. I felt sure I could connect with somebody, being Irish, having endured 12 yrs of Catholic school/guilt and having a family summer home. I found everybody disagreeable. I bought this on the $25% off sale. I'm glad I didn't waste a credit.
I wanted to listen to the book from beginning to end in one sitting - my favorite book of all time!
I listened to the entire book in a day. The author carefully doled out just enough information in each chapter about the key character in that chapter so that I understood what was happening, but at the same time it was clear that there were secrets yet to be revealed. I could not turn off my iPod until I reached the end. The book was particularly enjoyable when all four key characters were together in Maine.
I found all four main characters well developed and interesting, albeit quirky. None was terribly likable, yet none was entirely dislikable either. I felt like I was reading about family members I have met in friends' families, but, thankfully, not about my own family members.
This is the first performance by Ann Marie Lee I have heard. I did not read any of the other reviews before I listend to the book and was surprised by the number of negative reviews. I never noticed that the narration was particularly slow. In fact I found the pace enjoyable. Some performances are read so quickly, I find myself rewinding to catch what I missed. I was also not troubled by the Boston accent. While the accent may not have been perfect, as a former New Englander, I felt quite at home. I would not hesitate to buy another book narrated by Ms. Lee.
Ms. Sullivan's first novel Commencement has been on my wishlist for some time. After reading Maine, Commencement is moving to the top of the list for my next purchase.
Love books and love to put in my two cents' worth
I won't blame the reader, I'm sure she did her best, but this book was hopeless.
I just purchased The Heart and the Fist
I would cut the whole book
There is no plot, no tension, the characters are one dimensional. I bought it principally because I love Maine, but there wasn't even any local description that I could have enjoyed. Just a boring story about a family - slightly dysfunctional but not enough to hold my interest.
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