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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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    228
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    179
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    56
  • 2 Stars
    21
  • 1 Stars
    14

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    111
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    35
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    11
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Story

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    71
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Narration

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

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

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!

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mary
  • Portland, OR, United States
  • 07-30-17

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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Insightful take on the lives of American women in the late 20th century.

I really enjoyed this book. I can understand why one reviewer said it was tedious. But it really wasn’t. Many families of catholic, european descent living in America in the mid to late 20th century lived the lives of the characters in this book. The struggles and consequences would be found somewhere in every family and I don’t know why but I took great comfort in knowing that. I know this family. It’s my family and it’s your family. It you like that kind of book, go for it.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Not for the orthodox

Characters were relatable. The plot was intricate, but not well resolved. My main beef was the faulty notions held up as catholic doctrine. The Church - not the laity...they were aptly unfaithful and irreverent, and to some extent, not the clergy, as some have been pretty unfaithful and irreverent themselves...but the CHURCH itself was poorly represented, and her doctrines clearly misunderstood by the author. I don’t mind acknowledging the lack of human fidelity. We Catholics need to own the fact that we are often poor ambassadors. I do mind someone skimming over church teaching with little regard for historicity or actual theology.