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A Season in Purgatory: A Novel Paperback – November 17, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (November 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345522222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345522221
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

That the rich clearly are different is a tenet often espoused by society chronicler Dunne, though never more cogently than in this riveting saga about the Bradley clan of Scarborough Hill, Conn. When young Harrison Burns becomes an accessory to a crime of passion committed by his friend and prep school classmate Constant Bradley, his silence is bought by patriarch Gerald. All efforts at a solution are mysteriously stifled; 20 years later Burns, now a successful journalist, decides to unburden himself of his torturous secret. Dunne plunges readers instantly into the thick of things with the book's opening lines: "The jury is in its third day of deliberation"--and, with the exception of a mildly disappointing excursion to Arizona, never relaxes his firm grip. The unforgettable Bradley family, their skeletons (e.g., Agnes, the mad, institutionalized daughter) and peccadillos offer an allure similar to a sidelong glance at tabloid headlines, though here told with wit and skill. Their machinations prove both fascinating and appalling--and always hypnotically readable. In addition to his potent characterization and deftly crafted plotting, Dunne again provides an insider's glimpse of this rarified stratum--a world where the highest praise for a character might be "he's marvelous at placement . . . he can seat a dinner party better than anyone I've ever known." This compulsive yarn might well be subtitled Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous--The Dark Side .
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-The Bradleys are a large, rich, powerful, Irish-Catholic family, headed by a ruthless patriarch who is bent on having his favorite son, Constant, become president. Mrs. Bradley is a religious, designer-clad mother who shuts her eyes to her husband's numerous affairs. Harrison Burns is Constant's poor but bright friend. They attend the same exclusive prep school. One night, Constant beats a young girl to death, and Harrison helps him cover it up. Twenty-two years later, he can't bear the guilt of his complicity in the crime and decides to confess. Can he bring the Bradley dynasty down with him? Dunne, who has previously paralleled real life in The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (Crown, 1985), has written a real page-turner that looks into the lives of a wealthy, morally corrupt American family. It's almost like reading People magazine.
Diana C. Hirsch, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, MD
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Dominick Dunne (1925-2009) was the author of five bestselling novels, two collections of essays, and "The Way We Lived Then," a memoir with photographs. His final novel, "Too Much Money," will be published in December 2009. He was a Special Correspondent for "Vanity Fair" and lived in New York City and Hadlyme, Connecticut.

Photo (C) H. Thompson

Customer Reviews

I am a fan of Dominick Dunne so this book was an easy one to enjoy.
Renee M Marshall
He writes with an easy, readable, style while at the same time he packs his novels with an extraordinary amount of detail.
HeyJudy
Very good reading, kept your attention throughout the entire book and was very fast paced.
Carmen Woolner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Jeanna180 on January 24, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel is Dunne at his best. In this story Dunne fictionalizes the Martha Moxley murder and shows his strengths as a storyteller. Here Dunne shows he can balance plot as well as charcter development.
This story is told from the point of veiw of Harrison Burns. When Harrison was a teenager he saw his friend Constant Bradley murder the girl next door. Constant's family buys Harrison's silence through the years by paying his college tution and sending him abroad.
However as the years go on Harrison finds it harder to live with what he has seen. These feelings cause the demise of his marriage and general self loathing. Harrison is forced to face off with the Bradley's when they invite him to their home to ask Harrison to write a book about Constant's life.
Along with Harrison's dilema Dunne tells the story of the demise of a family. The skill with which Dunne tells both stories make this book well worth reading. The other to reason to read it is of course, affairs, family battles, and good gossip.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A. Schultz on May 31, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I can't agree with other reviewers that this is "vintage Dunne" or "quintessential Dunne" because this is my first Dominick Dunne book, but it certainly kept my attention for all of its 500-odd pages. The book was recommended to me by a friend who had seen the made-for-TV movie, and it did not disappoint.
Based "loosely" (read obviously) on the Martha Moxley murders, the book is about a friend of the Bradley family, Harrison Burns, who helps the family's favorite son, Constant Bradley, move the body of Winifred Utley, whom he's murdered. Gerald Bradley, who bears a striking resemblance to Joseph Kennedy, buys Harrison's silence, but the book is less about Harrison's struggle with his secret and more about how he got involved with the Bradleys and then later disentangled himself.
The book was written before Michael Skakel went to trial, and I read the trial portion of the book hoping that the book would mirror the real life outcome, justice for all, etc. Ultimately, this book is an indictment of people in power who hush up unsavory incidents to help themselves. Take it with you if you need to stay awake.... you won't want to put it down.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 20, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book a few years ago, then again after reading a biography of Ethel Skakel Kennedy. I love Dominick Dunne's "in the know" type prose. He treats the readers like insiders, and the Bradley family like trash. He repeatedly refers to the family in other books, which leads me to want to know more. (In one of his later books, the family cook, it's mentioned all too briefly has killed herself). He does tend to layer a few too many Kennedy scandals in to the family. They aren't supposed to be the Kennedy's but instead the Skakel's. But it just tends to add to the drama and the spirit of the book. A Great Read, and one whose ending will leave you satisfied, but not feeling patronized.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 1997
Format: Paperback
"A Season in Purgatory" by Dominick Dune is, as its paperback cover proclaims, "highly entertaining". I bought the book on a whim because I needed something to keep me from falling asleep at work one evening. There it was...hiding a little too close to those hideous romance novels I avoid like intolerable, little, yippy dogs. Never heard of the author until then. I also tend to shy away from anything that says "now a new miniseries", unless I've heard of the book prior to this announcement. However, what started as a haphazard book choice turned into a captivating, nonproductive night in the customer service office. The more I read the more I wanted to bash in Gerald Bradley's head. Disguted, with his actions I kept trying to put the book down only to be drawn back to see what wonders the Bradley money could bestow upon its surrounding peers next. My disgust evolved to include every member of the Bradley family rather than being soley focused upon Gerald.
And three cheers for yet another book that I couldn't predict. Oh, I had a general idea, but I certainly wasn't bored. I was compelled to keep reading and learn exactly what was going on.
Based on the qaulity of this book I will be checking out others by Mr. Dunne. This book was well-written and had the ending I was yearning for - made all the ranting as I read worthwhile.
Read it!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By E. Arment on August 16, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was the second time that I read this book and I will read it again. The story was never dull and was very difficult to put down. Between readings, I did lend it to a friend who absolutely hated it and had a hard time getting through it. She said it reminded her too much of a prominent Massachusetts family. I had just thought it was an exceptionally good fiction novel. Upon the second reading, I also saw the similarities to the family but still enjoyed the book and believe the author got his point across.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Beverley Strong on May 19, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a fascinating read, a barely disguised ( or not at all) expose of one of the most notorious families of American political history. When Harrison, a teenaged boy is orphaned by the murder of his parents, he is scooped up under the wing of the family of his classmate, Constant, at boarding school. His excellence at writing makes him a useful friend to Constant, whose family has great expectations for him in a political future. When he witnesses some of Constant's worst excesses, he is bribed to silence by having his schooling financed by the head of the family. Being very young and inexperienced, he goes along with his position until he is grown and realizes that he will be forever in their thrall. It's not until twenty years later, when the murder committed by Constant becomes public, that he accuses the family of covering up the crime in which he was made an accessory, and he unburdens himself of the guilt he has carried for all of these years. The whole book is an indictment of the power of money and position, in smoothing over the less savoury parts of people's lives and characters and how these same people can learn to justify their actions and to blame everyone else for their own faults and weaknesses.
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