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Blessings Hardcover – September 17, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (September 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375502238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375502231
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (243 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #915,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The plot of Anna Quindlen's novel Blessings is constructed on the same model as E.T.: adorable orphaned creature is found by unlikely caregiver who against his or her better judgment falls in love with the little beast, while all the while, the authorities loom in the background, threatening to take the foundling away. In Quindlen's book, however, the foundling in question isn't an alien, but a squalling baby left at Blessings, a vast estate owned by an ancient, crabby matriarch named Lydia Blessing. By a fluke, the baby's parents abandon her by the garage rather than at the front door, and so she is discovered by Skip Cuddy, Lydia Blessing's newly hired handyman, who happens to be an ex-con. The plot proceeds from there in fairly E.T.-like fashion, minus the Reese's Pieces and flying bicycles. Skip, Lydia, and the baby they name Faith form a surprisingly loving and sustaining, albeit temporary, family unit.

Quindlen wrings a remarkable amount of pathos from this somewhat simple setup. One of her strengths as a writer is the quietness she brings to her story; family secrets of paternity and lost love are buried deep in the narrative, hidden in descriptive paragraphs where they subtly zing us with their news. Her ear is good, too: we believe Skip and his bad-boy friends when they're shooting the breeze. Best of all is her flair for observation. The book wouldn't work at all if she couldn't make us feel Skip and Lydia's amazement at the small joys of a baby ("The deep pleat in the fat at her elbow made her arms look muscled"). Here is a book that lives up to its title. --Claire Dederer

From Publishers Weekly

Venturing into fictional territory far from the blue-collar neighborhoods of Black and Blue and other works, Quindlen's immensely appealing new novel is a study in social contrasts and of characters whose differences are redeemed by the transformative power of love. The eponymous Blessings is a stately house now gone to seed, inhabited by Mrs. Blessing, an 80-year-old wealthy semirecluse with an acerbic tongue and a reputation for hanging on to every nickel. Widowed during WWII, Lydia Blessing was banished to her socially prominent family's country estate for reasons that are revealed only gradually. Austere, unbending and joyless, Lydia has no idea, when she hires young Skip Cuddy as her handyman, how her life and his are about to change. Skip had promise once, but bad companions and an absence of parental guidance have led to a stint in the county jail. When Skip stumbles upon a newborn baby girl who's been abandoned at Blessings, he suddenly has a purpose in life. With tender devotion, he cares secretly for the baby for four months, in the process forming a bond with Mrs. Blessing, who discovers and admires his clandestine parenting skills. A double betrayal destroys their idyll. As usual, Quindlen's fine-tuned ear for the class distinctions of speech results in convincing dialogue. Evoking a bygone patrician world, she endows Blessings with an almost magical aura. While it skirts sentimentality by a hairbreadth, the narrative is old-fashioned in a positive way, telling a dramatic story through characters who develop and change, and testifying to the triumph of human decency when love is permitted to grow and flourish.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Anna Quindlen is the author of three bestselling novels, Object Lessons, One True Thing and Black and Blue, and three non-fiction books, Living Out Loud, Thinking Out Loud and A Short Guide to a Happy Life. Her New York Times column 'Public and Private' won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992. She is currently a columnist for Newsweek and lives with her husband and children in New York.

Customer Reviews

This is such a beautiful story.
Teri Adams
I thoroughly enjoyed this well written book and do highly recommend it to all my friends who read a lot.
Lois Hall
It wasn't until the end that I started to get into the book.
Penny Lane

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

136 of 153 people found the following review helpful By BeachReader on September 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In this book Anna Quindlen delivers a lovely story of strength, support, and love.
Late one night, a teenaged couple abandons their newborn baby at the garage door of "Blessings", an estate inhabited by the elderly Lydia Blessing and her young handyman, Skip Cuddy.....and thus set off a chain of events that will propel both of these characters on a journey of discovery.
Skip, who lives over the garage and finds the foundling, will discover unexpected depths of feelings for this little one, whom he names Faith. He also discovers the nurture of which he is capable--and what the tribulations of fatherhood can be. This baby gives Skip's life a structure and purpose that it never had before. Lydia discovers that perhaps doing what is expected is not always the "good" thing to do....and questions what the "right" thing to do really is. She has lived in the past for so long, thinking about her family's many secrets, but this baby brings her into the present with a welcome jolt.
Despite trying to keep Faith's presence a secret, Lydia finds out that Skip has taken on the role of "father" to this baby, and the three of them become an unlikely sort of family. Quindlen shows us how a family is not necessarily comprised of those related by blood, but can be a unit made up of people who need, support, and care for each other. Together, Skip and Lydia find unexpected joy in Faith and find resources within themselves of which they were unaware. These two characters, of such different backgrounds and ages, also allow the author to tell the same story in two very different ways.
Quindlen has written a richly descriptive and moving novel, one of redemption and personal growth, and about doing the right thing.
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68 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Teri Adams on September 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is such a beautiful story. I could not put this book down so I stayed up and read it from cover to cover.
The story begins with a baby being abandoned late one night by a teenage girl and the father of the baby. The baby is dressed in a flannel shirt with a hair clip on its umbilical cord and left by the garage in a cardboard box.
The box is then found by Skip, a house hand. Skip has never been around children much less a baby. He takes the newborn in as his own and the story begins. He becomes attached to the baby and raises it as his own... all the while keeping it a secret. We are then swept along as Skip learns to care for the baby and ends up dedicating his life to the baby. (I don't want to give up to much information on the baby.)
The name of the estate where the baby is left is called "Blessings" ... owned by an eighty-year-old wealthy woman named Lydia Blessings. As the story continues we learn the secrets of Lydia Blessings and her family ... AND, there are many secrets! The characters are richly written ... you will find yourself bonding with many of them as you learn their secrets. BUT, be prepared for some tears ... keep the Kleenex close at hand.
There are many "BLESSINGS" in this story. You will not be disappointed with this novel. It is a must read.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By CT on September 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
A baby is abandonned by its teenage mother at the Blessings estate in a cardboard box. When found the next morning by Skip, the caretaker who has associated with the wrong crowd in the past, he decides to keep her.
Blessings is the story of how this child changes Skip's life, as well as that of old, bitter matriarch Mrs. Lydia Blessing, who surprises us by helping Skip keep the baby.
This slow-paced, descriptive novel uses flashbacks from Mrs. Blessing's life, allowing the reader to discover this woman little by little, from her childhood, to her brother Sunny, to her marriage and her relationship with her daughter.
This novel includes some unexpected twists that help to make this cast of wonderful characters oh so human.
I hope you enjoy this book as I did.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Maurice Williams on October 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Don't expect page turning narrative or gut wrenching internal conflicts in this short novel. "Blessings" is a slowly paced sappy story of a man who finds an abandoned child while working on the wealthy estate of an elderly heiress. Secrets are the theme of the novel, and Quindlen doesn't come up with any fresh or unfamiliar ones. The main characters' lives are at first connected by circumstance of employment then by the love of the baby. The story unfolds pretty much the way you think it will. I experienced no surprises around the corner or startling revelations by the characters. It's certainly not a challenging or exciting read, but it's not among the worst reads of the year either. My experience with the novel may be more an indication of my expectations of the author than extremely average writing. After such stellar stories as "One True Thing" and "Black and Blue", I simply expected more from "Blessings. While let down, I'm not fed up. Hopefully Quindlen will return to her writing peak with the next novel.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J. Fercho on November 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have read the previous works of Anna Quindlen and have enjoyed them quite a bit. I wish I could say the same thing for "Blessings", I just could not get past the incrediably unlikely premise that this story is based on. We have Skip, a twentysomething single guy, down on his luck, and needing a break after taking the fall for a robbery attempt and spending some time in jail. He goes to work for Lydia Blessing an elderly, wealthy, widow with more than her share of personal and family secrets. Now enter baby "Faith". Skip finds a newborn foundling left on his doorstep (he lives over the garage at Lydia's estate), and what does our petty criminal with a heart of gold decide; I'll keep this baby as my own, yes, that won't cause any concerns with my parole officer. Honestly what do you think the chances of a 20 year old guy with a whole heap of issues, taking on the dauting responsibilities of caring for a newborn not his own are? After I suspended all disbelief, I began to think, well it is possible. Then I remembered what a newborn is all about and thought no way, no how. In any event, the story moves on with Lydia finding out about the baby and the two forming an odd friendship based on their growing and mutual adoration of the infant. There was likely no way to end this story "happily", but this ending felt rushed and forced to me, not at all satisfying. I actually found the side story about Lydia Blessings early life, her secrets and family far more interesting than the Skip and the baby route. The author could easily have written a far more compelling novel, by focusing just on this storyline. As it stands this one comes off about as bland as baby formula.
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