Maine

J. Courtney Sullivan

Book - 2011

Three generations of women converge on the family beach house in this wickedly funny, emotionally resonant story of love and dysfunction.

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FICTION/Sullivan, J. Courtney
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Location Call Number   Status
1st Floor FICTION/Sullivan, J. Courtney Due Aug 21, 2022
Subjects
Published
New York : Alfred A. Knopf 2011.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
Item Description
"This is a Borzoi book."
Physical Description
388 p. ; 25 cm
ISBN
9780307595126
0307595129
Main Author
J. Courtney Sullivan (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Sullivan's follow-up to Commencement (2009) introduces, as it did, four female characters, this time bound by the serpentine tangle of family. At the beginning of summer, three generations of Kelleher women descend on the family's beach home in Maine, as they have for half a century already. Changing point-of-view from one to another of the four protagonists, Sullivan creates deeply observed and believable, if not altogether sympathetic, characters, and as much is learned about one woman through the eyes of the three others as from her own perspective. Moody matriarch Alice, her uninvolved hippie daughter Kathleen, brown-nosing daughter-in-law Mary Ann, and newly-single, thirtysomething granddaughter Maggie each has a simmering-below-the surface inner-monologue that lights a spark, and Sullivan makes sure we can only anticipate an explosion. Sullivan gracefully meets the challenge of crafting a cast clearly pulled from the same DNA soup, without a clunk or hitch in the machinery. Expect interest from book clubs and fans of its popular predecessor. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Three generations of Kelleher women head to the seaside cottage the family won in a bet 60 years ago, bringing with them hidden burdens that range from sibling rivalry to an unspoken pregnancy. Beach reading for folks who don't typically indulge in beach reading; as evidenced by last year's successful debut, Commencement, Sullivan edges beyond chick lit. With an impressive 11-city tour, plus a reading group guide. [Page 63]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Beautiful, fractious, and 83 years old, Alice Kelleher rules her children—especially her daughter, Kathleen, and her daughter-in-law, Anne Marie—with her cruel and callous speech. Granddaughter Maggie fares a little better, largely owing to her desperate need to serve as peacemaker. At the heart of this compelling novel of three generations of women emotionally stunted by fate and willful stubbornness is the family vacation property in Cape Neddick, ME, where the Kellehers have convened for six decades. Thirty-two-year-old Maggie is single, newly pregnant, and abandoned. Her mother, the abrasively immature at sixtyish Kathleen, leaves her California "worm poop" farm and lovely partner, Arlo, to get Maggie to come to her senses regarding this pregnancy. As for Anne Marie, she struggles to maintain the outward appearance of the saintly martyr watching over Alice, who could slay an elephant with her narcissism. VERDICT In her second novel (after Commencement), Sullivan brilliantly lays out the case for the nearly futile task of these three generations of badly damaged Irish Catholic women seeking acceptance from one another while failing badly at self-acceptance. [See Prepub Alert, 11/29/10.]—Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI [Page 89]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Sullivan follows debut Commencement with a summer spritzer that's equal parts family drama, white wine, and Hail Marys. The story follows the struggles of three generations of Kelleher women: drunken Alice, the mass-going matriarch; her rebel daughter, Kathleen, a Sonoma County farmer; Kathleen's sister-in-law, the dollhouse aficionado Ann Marie; and Kathleen's daughter, Maggie, an aspiring writer. Rather than allowing the characters to grow or the plot to thicken, the novel's conflict derives almost entirely from the airing (or not) of various grievances (Alice believes herself responsible for her sister's death; Maggie is pregnant, single, and terrified; Kathleen is still the bitter person she was before she sobered up; Ann Marie has a martyr complex). The Kelleher summer home on the Maine coast is the putative center around which the drama revolves, yet it is the women's common love for Daniel, the patriarch rendered faultless in death, who does the most to bring the women together. The book's tension is watered down at best, like a sun-warmed cocktail: mildly effective, but disappointing. When conflict finally does break the surface, the exhilaration is visceral but short-lived. Late in the story, Kathleen tells Maggie, "It's going to be okay," to which she responds, "It has to be." Unfortunately, the reader never gets much chance to worry otherwise. (June) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Descending on a family beach house won in a bet years earlier, three generations of women gradually impart difficult respective secrets including a pregnancy, a terrible crush and a deeply held resentment for past misdeeds. By the author of the best-selling Commencement.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Descending on a family beach house won in a bet years earlier, three generations of women gradually impart difficult respective secrets including a pregnancy, a terrible crush, and a deeply-held resentment for past misdeeds.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Three generations of women converge on the family beach house in this wickedly funny, emotionally resonant story of love and dysfunction.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

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.