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 DLitt and Phil Degree which must imply a level of discernment? I just clocked over at 60. The significance is that I have read a whole lot of books. I'm now revisiting some of my all time favourites - and enjoying some first time round books. Books are my friends. Audible is JUST AMAZING - takes me back to pre -TV days, with my ear pressed to a crackly transistor radio - but now SO MUCH better and more 'classy' from a Kindle!
Thought the 'worm farming' descriptions were amazing - and such a powerful reflection of the character of Kathleen. I did enjoy this book - the irresponsible Gabe, the family dynamics, the ways people misread situations. The dollhouse.........
there is so much i could say about Maine - but you just have to listen to it! the story is spot-on! the narrator's performance is so amazing that even before i was finished listening to Maine - i looked up other books w/ her reading... it is just great!
the story follows four boston irish catholic women throughout generations and both the writing and the narration actually bring this terrific story to life...
my *only* single complaint would be - occasionally there seems to be a lot of "catherine said, then maggie said, then catherine said, then alice said, then ann marie said..." at multiple points throughout the book. i don't know if it is the writing or the narrating that makes it so noticeable??? but it *really* stood out at times for me during my listen - and that is a first for me w/ an audiobook... usually i can listen w/out really hearing all the "he said, she said" stuff... but with this book, it made an impact.
but honestly - it was a fantastic book! i have recommended it to my family and friends w/ audiobooks accounts or i have purchased it for the family members who don't have one...
if you enjoy a good family drama told from a variety of points of view over an extended period of time - then you definitely need to get this book *now*!
I got the storyline ending but it still left me gazing off and feeling like I wasn't finished!
Very good narrator though!
A delightful look at a dysfunctional Irish American family. The characters are interesting and often amusing. I did not like the abrupt ending of the book and felt it was not consistent with the flow of the book. I was disappointed, and it seemed like a weak ending to a strong story line.
I always thought my family had issues but WOW! Very good read! Ms. Lee also did a great job with the narration!
If you want to know what it's like to be woman in a middle class Irish-American Boston family, get this book. Boring, middlebrow, shallow, superstitious Catholic, tribal, sheltered, unsophisticated, huge families with pretty concerns and constant infighting.
Nothing happens in the book, the dialogue is minimal and dull, the characters concerns little more than based on envy, pathological focus on family and Irish-American tribe, and ultimately a very disappointing choice of audiobook.
I would never want to meet or befriend any of the women in this book...two mean-spirited shrews and two mealy-mouthed doormats! It was absolutely endless to listen too! I give this book two thumbs down.
I liked this story because it spoke to me as an Irish Catholic woman raised in Maine. I could pluck people out of my own life and set them down in this setting. This is an adult book and deserves a sophisticated narrator not one who sounds like she's reading to kids. I would recommend it to those who are interested in Irish-Catholic guilt and fatalism.
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