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Colony Mass Market Paperback – September 3, 2002

148 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

If it's gothic, Siddons (Outer Banks, King's Oak, etc.) can do it, or so it would appear in this latest novel destined for commercial success. In it, she takes her gifts for melodrama and tangling family trees up north, to a summer colony for Boston Brahmins on the coast of Maine, called simply ``Retreat.'' But Siddons's heroine is a southerner, and on her she demonstrates one of her best tricks--her deep intimacy with her leading ladies, which the author shares with her readers from the get-go. Anyway, it isn't easy for sweet young Maude Gascoigne, from a moldering plantation near Charleston, to fit in when her new husband, sterling-silver Peter Chambliss (of a Boston banking family, Princeton, and Retreat), takes her to the summer place. For the first few decades Maude battles it out with her insufferable, hypercritical mother-in-law, the drunken and lecherous husband of her best friend, Amy Potter, and even Peter himself--a depressive, hermetic man who just sails away whenever things get rough. Gradually, though, little Maudie gets some starch and learns to endure almost anything, including: the death of her mother-in-law (``my beloved enemy''); Peter's weird coldness to his own two children, which ultimately sends the younger, Happy, to a sanitarium; the death of a grandson; the return of a bad seed, Elizabeth, Amy Potter's girl, who does her best to break up Maude's son's marriage; and whispers that float on the salt spray every summer about how much Elizabeth looks like Peter. Well, it turns out that Elizabeth's connection to Peter is very much an issue--but we're not telling why. Long-suffering Maude may not be everyone's cup of tea, but this time Siddons gets the melodrama balance just right and shows she's as much at home in Maine as she was in Georgia. Fans will be doing cartwheels, and others will queue up. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Anne Rivers Siddons's bestselling novels include Nora, Nora; Sweetwater Creek; Islands; and Fox's Earth. She is also the author of the nonfiction work John Chancellor Makes Me Cry. She and her husband divide their time between Charleston, South Carolina, and Brooklin, Maine.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch; Reprint edition (September 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061099708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061099700
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.3 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Denise Bentley on October 29, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
That is the way a friend described this book to me and I have to admit it is certainly a diamond among the stones. This is an author who takes you to the place that lies deep between the pages or soul of her book. The main character is reflective and strong with undiminished courage. Maude is one of the most memorable characters I have ever come across.
The book begins as she arrives at Retreat, also know as The Colony, her in-law's summer home in Maine. A staunch and uppity "Blue Blood", the matriarch Mother Hannah, is not quick to take to a southern belle of the French persuasion. Maude with her husband Peter by her side, is going to show these Bostonians her strength for decades to come.
The book covers nearly 70 years of her life along with the family and friends that grow close to her heart as well as yours. There are times where the author's language is shear poetry. I place this book on my best books of all times list. It's not one to be missed. Kelsana 10/29/01
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By lsharloe@erols.com or Lorelei Harloe on November 9, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Colony is the type of book you can't wait to lend to a friend as soon as you've read the last page. That friend, you'll soon discover, cannot return it because it's been passed on to a family member, a colleague, or another friend (you see the cycle). While on vacation last July, I actually sought out the seaside village in Maine where the story takes place. I wanted to find the haven I had visited through Siddons' vibrant description. Her pine trees and salty air couldn't become more vivid by scratching and sniffing the pages.
Siddons' ninth effort details the life of Maude Gascoigne, a Southerner whose story begins upon her wedding engagement to a privileged Bostonian. Maude recounts her passage from a lazy existence in the South Carolina swamplands to a life of summers at Retreat, an old-money colony in Cape Rosier, Maine. The unsophisticated Maude arrives at the blueblood colony as the young fiancee of the socially prominent Peter Chambliss. Peter soon marries the olive-skinned, French- blooded Maude, defying his mother, the venerable Hannah Chambliss.
Maude joins the fair-skinned young brides who spend their vacations serving their mothers-in-law, the pampered matriarchs of the aristocratic enclave. She finds a comrade in Amy Potter, a sister in servitude who educates her in the escapist art of the feigned migraine. As Peter sails, Maude serves -- to fulfill a pre-ordained tradition and sit among the new order of matriarchs, rocking away their payback years on the sun porches.
Through many seasons, Maude faces antagonizing opposition by jealous contemporaries, including a vengeful beauty who failed to capture Peter's heart.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Pam from Texas VINE VOICE on November 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is one of my all time favorites. A southern woman marries a
wealthy man and spends her summers at Retreat in Maine.
Her mother-in-law makes no secret of the fact that she finds
Maude totally unacceptable as a wife for her son. At Retreat,
Maude learns the older women rule and they do everything they
can to make Retreat perfect for the men. The book spans
70 years as we watch Maude try to fit in and tolerate her
mother in law. Peter, Maude's husband, is a weak man,
but Maude loves him and carries on the tradition of making
the summers perfect for him. The scenery is as much a
character as Maude and the rest of the blue bloods that
populate it. Anne Rivers Siddons is a master at creating
a setting and making us love the people she has created.
I read this book slowly and savored it because I loved
Maude and didn't want to say good-bye. After I finished it,
I didn't immediately begin another book, as is my usual
custom. I spent several days thinking about it and
accepting the fact that I wouldn't be visiting with Maude
any more. I miss her.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By rebelmomof2 VINE VOICE on February 20, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book oh so many years ago and it's still my favorite Siddons book to read again and again. The setting in The Colony reminds me of the little village in Michigan by one of her numerous lakes ~~ where I had spent my summer vacation. The love, passion and friendships, complicated relationships span over the years and the ending is just as enthralling as the opening paragraph. You just don't want to put this book down. Out of all the Siddons books, this is the best written one.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Lis on July 23, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The book starts off strong and then slogs to Daniel Steel-esque melodrama in the middle complete with wayward, mentally unbalanced, children and a roaming, weak, husband. Thus, I really didn't care for half of the book and almost gave up reading it halfway through. At least the end picks up and is an improvement over the middle of the book.

The book is at its finest when Maude is in Retreat. (With the descriptions of life in Retreat and the rugged New England coast.) Outside of Retreat, I found myself not caring at all for the story and the people in it (except for Maude.) I think the much better book would have been entirely focused on life in Retreat and left the crazy daughter and other melodrama behind. I didn't care enough about the daughter, Peter, or the son, to want to read the parts of the book that took place outside of Retreat.

The other thing that bothered me about this book is that the author would have people (Like Elizabeth, or her son) do terrible things to Maude or her granddaughter. YET, they still let these people walk all over them. It was incredibly frustrating while reading. Elizabeth is a siren, she sucks men in and then destroys their lives, and yet Maude lets her hang all over Peter, while any nitwit could see the consequences of that. (This of course has more to do with the characters themselves and not the writing.)

Overall I could see why someone wouldn't care for this book. I gave it three stars because there are some really good things about it, but not enough to make one REALLY good cohesive story that would deserve more stars.
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