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)
This book sounded like it had so much potential. What a disappointment! The main character is so unlikeable I was hoping she died early in the book (she doesn't). The other characters are stupid and uninteresting. But the worst part of the listen is the narrator. She speaks so slowly it sounds as if she is trying to read to a 2 year old, and the awful "Bwhosston"accent just grates on your nerves. DO NOT waste a credit!!
Listening to this, I felt that my own Mother had been plopped into the story and renamed. Ms Sullivan so pulled together several generations of women and respected each era they were from. I often try to do this also so I can understand younger people.
I read her first book and enjoyed it and was not disappointed with her second.
The narrator was not the best I have heard but the story line kept me reading any chance I could grab.
I am a long-term Audible listener and have listened to hundreds of audiobooks. The narration of J. Courtney Sullivan's novel is one of the most inconsistent readings. I was amazed to hear at least three errors where characters are incorrectly identified (not Kathleen) and timeline is inaccurate (If Kathleen and Maggie leave after the July 4th fireworks, then they are leaving on July 5 - not August 5). Someone needs to do some serious editing with this audiobook.
I bought this book when it had a higher rating. The only reson I did not skip to the end is that there are so many charcters, I wanted to know what happened to a few of them. Skip this book is right!
The narrator is enough to make me scream! Her voice promotes my dislike for most of these characters. Alice is downright ugly and unlikeable in spite of her great tragedy. Can't say I would recommend this book. It would be like recommending someone for root canal...
As unlikable a cast of characters as I have met in a long time. And the narrator's attempted breathy, yet inconsistent, Boston accent is, at best, annoying. Not worth giving it the listening time.
I had to stop listening to this book, though I had read good things about it and was looking forward to it. The reader sounds as if she is reading to toddlers, she is so slow and "flight attendant-ish." Having just finished listening to a book read by Hope Davis, who is terrific, this reader seemed intolerable.
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.
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.
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