From Publishers Weekly
A rarified Southern California Catholic high school serves as the setting for thrice-divorced, 50-year-old Emily Hamilton's reckoning in Callanan's oddly luminous novel (following The Cloud Atlas
). A teacher who finds her life intertwined with three of her students', Emily revisits relevant stages of her past (nicely interspersing an abundant knowledge of saints' lives) as she gets around to telling how she kissed Edgar Mandeville, an upstart student in her church history class (dubbed "Saints and Sinners" by everyone, including Emily herself). Refreshing insights into teenage angst (including secondaries such as the sexually confused Paul, the aforementioned Edgar and the shy but longing Cecily) are matched by midlife crisis candor—including that of irreverent department chair Fr. Martin Dimanche, with whom Emily has an ambivalent relationship. Emily herself has been struggling for personal redemption for nearly four decades: her teenage pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage are just the beginning. The book's stark events are handled while retaining sympathy for Emily: no mean feat. Callanan gets into her head with page-turning panache and authority. (Feb.)
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“A stunning piece of writing by a genuinely precocious talent: haunting and smooth and wise.”—Christopher Buckley, author of Thank You for Smoking
“Liam Callanan is that rare thing, a writer adept and creative enough to inhabit the mind of character entirely different from himself. He does so completely, with absolute authenticity and emotional truth. Emily Hamilton is unapologetically acerbic and a delight to spend time with. This book is every bit as good as The Cloud Atlas
, and that is saying a lot.”—Ayelet Waldman, author of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits
asks a very private question: How do you move forward in life when faced with your own failures?... The desires of the soul, the impulses of the flesh and the confines of the human condition drive the novel’s story until the line dividing the saints from the sinners is blurred.”—Los Angeles Times
is a jewel of a book: bright, sharp-witted, full of the fantastical lore of the saints and the secret yearnings of everyday American life, full of secrets and surprises. In particular, this novel is the story of Emily Hamilton who I found myself thinking about long after I closed the book. Missing her rueful wit and intelligence. Realizing that I'd maybe even fallen a little in love with her. I imagine other readers will fall for her, too—and for this book." —Dan Chaon, author of You Remind Me of Me
“Luminous.... Callanan gets into [his heroine’s] head with page-turning panache and authority.”—Publishers Weekly
is about the mystery and danger of love, all kinds of love—so intense and funny and wise. Emily Hamilton has such a complicated, appealing voice—at once guarded and full of passion, energy, irreverence. She is a great and serious character, a real triumph. I couldn't put it down."—Susan Shreve, author of A Student of Living Things
“Consider this your crash course in theology.”—Marie Claire
“Callanan doesn’t shelter his heroine.... She speaks in a voice that is frustratingly real and endearing, bestowed with a truthful grace.”—Entertainment WeeklyFrom the Hardcover edition.