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Publisher's Summary

A sweeping, unforgettable novel from the New York Times best-selling author of Maine, about the hope, sacrifice, and love between two sisters and the secret that drives them apart.

Nora and Theresa Flynn are 21 and 17 when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Nora is the responsible sister; she's shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn't sure that she loves. Theresa is gregarious; she is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls on Dudley Street. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan - a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand.

Fifty years later Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family, with four grown children: John, a successful if opportunistic political consultant; Bridget, quietly preparing to have a baby with her girlfriend; Brian, at loose ends after a failed baseball career; and Patrick, Nora's favorite, the beautiful boy who gives her no end of heartache. Estranged from her sister, Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont. Until, after decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago.

A graceful, supremely moving novel from one of our most beloved writers, Saints for All Occasions explores the fascinating, funny, and sometimes achingly sad ways a secret at the heart of one family both breaks them and binds them together.

©2017 J. Courtney Sullivan (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"I hope to read another novel as strong and wise and beautiful and heartbreaking as J. Courtney Sullivan's Saints for All Occasions, but I'm not sure I will." (Richard Russo)

What listeners say about Saints for All Occasions

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A family full of secrets!

What a riveting book. All the characters are well-developed, the Boston/Dorchester/Irish immigrant scene well-drawn. I had read very little about that social and religious dynamic and it gave me an understanding of the area and the 50s to 00's era. In some ways, the ending was just the beginning. The narrator is excellent, adept at Irish and American accents as well as children's voices. I highly recommend it!

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

The narration ruined it

The narration is cloying. A saccharine style is used that is more suitable for reading to preschoolers. However, I am an adult as are the characters in this book.

11 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Was there a point?

I kept waiting for a point. A huge tragedy.... a mystery ..... anything
This is a story about a family
Yes - over time things happen in a family
Sorry this is dull
I would not recommend

6 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Narration

Saccharine narration. Story moderately interesting. Characters poorly fleshed out. This is one I will not read again.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The ending is so disappointing!

I thought something happened with my phone because the way this book ended all of the sudden left me with so many questions! I was totally into the story and loved it until the last chapter ended!

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

If you are Irish will bring back do many memories !!!

If you have Irish roots must read!!
Narrator is so good with Irish accents. I could hear my grandmother and aunts.
The description of Irish wakes was so right on. Great book!

4 people found this helpful

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Worth it.

I’ve loved all of j Courtney Sullivan’s books but some are certainly better than others. This is among the best. The slowness of some parts are not boring but reflective of the whole story and necessary for the depth of it. A really beautiful story.

Side note, if you were raised by Irish Catholics you will laugh out loud at the specifics and think of your own family along the way.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Had potential

The narration for this novel was very distracting for me. It won't be for most people, but don't try to attempt a Boston accent if you don't know it. As a New England native I couldn't get over how bad it was a mix of New York and 1920s vaudeville voice. Ugh. The story itself had potential and pulled me in, but it ended incredibly abruptly with too many loose ends for me. If you don't care about bad accents and you don't mind filling in the end of the story for yourself, then you might enjoy this one.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Great performance. Mediocre book

That header may be a little harsh.

I was completely drawn into the narrative and loved many of the stories, but the ending ... disappointing. Although here were many good story lines, too many seemed superfluous, and never fully developed, like leftovers added to a carefully honed recipe. I kept waiting for the amazing denouement, where it all tied together ... nope. It appears the author couldn't agree which ending to choose, so she avoided it all together.

Performance of the accents helped draw me into the story and were very well done.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Very good story of Irish family.

I loved it.I enjoy stories of Irish families with complicated relationships. Irish culture throughout the novel.