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Fiona Range Paperback – July 1, 2001

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4 Stars and Up Feature: Kitchens of the Great Midwest
"Foodies and those who love contemporary literature will devour this novel that is being compared to Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge. A standout." --Library Journal Learn more
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Fiona Range often feels cursed. At 30 she is an odd--or perhaps not so odd--combination of sentimentality, irritability, and promiscuity. Mary McGarry Morris's heroine lives on the outskirts of Boston and works at a diner. She grew up in the household of her uncle, a prominent judge. But although she was raised in privilege, she was always treated as the charity case--the abandoned child of a beautiful crazy woman who "drove off weeping one rainy afternoon, never to return."

Fiona dwells on this original abandonment. She thinks about it when she wakes up with strange men, when she gets too drunk and sad, when all the people in town start to resemble sharks, preying on her. She keeps getting involved with bad men, and as the novel opens, she has been kicked out of her uncle's house after her boyfriend's arrest for selling drugs. Fiona Range is the story of her attempts to clean her life up, find love in the midst of loneliness and confusion, and find balance in the midst of seemingly insurmountable emotional chaos.

Morris (author of Songs in Ordinary Time) skillfully paints Fiona as a woman toughened by loneliness. Often she feels that she is beyond pain as a result of all she has endured: "Fiona Range's teeth had been filled without novocaine, her wounds stitched without anesthesia, her heart broken too many times to count. Once as a child she fell from a tree and broke her arm but didn't tell her aunt until hours later when her favorite show had ended." Yet while she is often invulnerable, she is also fragile and needy. In Morris's skillful hands Fiona comes vibrantly to life--a crabby, lusty woman who hopes the fates will give her a break. --Ellen Williams --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Small towns are never as ordinary as they seem; everyone has secrets. In her well-received novels (A Dangerous Woman, etc.), Morris has honed this territory with empathy for those on the fringes of community life. Here she raises the stakes: it's the best families in town that have the most to lose, and thus to hide. Fiona Range is the black sheep of the Hollis clan, residents of Dearborn, Mass. When her unwed mother abandoned her as a baby, Fiona was raised by her aunt and uncle. Headstrong and reckless, she has always felt like an outsider. At 30, she has never attended college, held a good job or had a relationship with a good man. She's now waiting tables, drinking, satisfying her need for intimacy by sleeping around, and despairing about her future. Then her cousin Elizabeth returns from New York with a physician fianc?, an event that devastates Elizabeth's hometown boyfriend. Fiona becomes sexually involved with both men, a fact not lost on anyone. Meanwhile, she's determined to achieve a relationship with badly scarred Vietnam vet Patrick Grady, who everyone says is her father, though he vehemently denies paternity. The reader catches on far earlier than Fiona that her uncle's warnings about Patrick's violence hide a secret of his own, and that his vaunted charity to Patrick and others is hush money. The plot seems to go in circles as Fiona ignores common sense and repeatedly behaves rashly, afterward suffering guilt and self-disgust. In fact, Fiona's headlong self-destruction distance her from the reader's sympathy. Yet there is sustained tension in the narrative, and the denouement packs a thriller's excitement. Agent, Jean Naggar. BOMC selection. (May) FYI: Morris's Songs in Ordinary Time was an Oprah Book Club selection.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 418 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reissue edition (July 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141001844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141001845
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,257,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Setterfield on October 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I admit I did not get into this story right away. However, when it begins to take off, BOY does it ever! Fiona Range is a novel full of twists and turns, and even though I thought most of it was predictable, the ending threw me for a loop.
Fiona Range is probably the oldest teenager alive -- 30-years-old and still causing trouble. Raised by her aunt and uncle after the hasty disappearance of her mother shortly after her birth, Fiona has always felt like an outsider. Growing up in a house full of cousins who could do no wrong, Fiona looks at herself as the Black Sheep, the Trouble Maker, the Embarrassment Who Can't Get Her Life Straight. Slipping in and out of different beds quicker than changing socks, and if there is a moment of goodness that lasts longer than usual, leave it to Fiona to break the monotony.
Fiona's story is one of sadness and trying to fit in. It speaks of the different relationships that surround her: with her family, who tend to cover their own transgressions with surface smiles and false happiness; with her ex-boyfriend, Todd, who is a troublemaker in his own right; her co-workers at the diner, Maxine, Chester, Donna and Sandy, who have their own stories to share; and her father, Patrick, who Fiona seeks out for answers about her mother. The fun begins at an engagement party for Fiona's cousin, Elizabeth, and doesn't end until novel's close. Excellent writing, very engrossing storytelling. Will be reading more by this author.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jackie on August 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Where do I start? At the beginning of course. Fiona's character jumps off the page from the start, in fact her life was thrilling to the end of the novel. Morris once again paints a complete portrait of a woman. By the time I finished I felt I knew Fiona inside and out. If she waited on me at the local diner here in town, I'd spot her before I read her nametage. But it wasn't just Fiona. This book is packed with 3-dimensional characters. The judge-what a crafty, yet somehow still respectable man. (By the way, has anyone stopped to follow how Morris portrays judges in her four novels? That would be an interesting essay itself) His wife, Aunt Arlene-keeping up appearances no matter the cost. Dear Elizabeth-Almost as complex a character as Fiona. Get this book, you won't be disappointed.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Cindy T. Carney on May 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Once again, I bow down to Mary McGarry Morris for enabling me to get so involved in these people's lives, I think they're real. I feel like a "fly on the wall" just watching all these people's relationships and interactions and decisions. With a house/husband/kids/p/t job, Ms. Morris is the only author that completely absorbs my thoughts and takes me away into another realistic world. I'm a die-hard Oprah book club fan, and Morris' books exemplifies all the relationship intricacies. Her characters are always 3-dimensional, never just "cliche" people. She's not a "happily ever after" author, which is also realistic. If anyone else out there also loves Mary McGarry Morris' books as much as I do (I read them all), please e-mail me to give me other books similar to hers, that are just as absorbing and realistic. I'm a avid reader and would love to share book info. Thanks. Enjoy Fiona!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By hawthorne wood on December 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
I'm one of those people who dislikes re-reading books, or seeing a movie more than once. I'm a novelist myself (unpublished, but hopeful), and I like to gulp as much fiction and media as I can, but rarely go back over old ground.
The only movie I watch over and over is the Coen Brothers' "Miller's Crossing" and the only books I seem able to re-read are those by Mary McGarry Morris.
For one thing, each time I re-visit one of her novels, I find there are new layers of meaning I missed the first, and even the second time. For example, the first time I read Fiona Range, I, like some of the others who have reviewed it here, found it to be less tragic and moving than her other books, "A Dangerous Woman," "Vanished" (my favorite; it should have won the Pulitzer) and "Songs In Ordinary Time."
However, I am currently re-reading it now and, contrary to what I thought was going to happen (I knew the ending, so how could it be surprising and interesting?) it has turned out to be even better BECAUSE I know the ending. Now it truly does seem tragic, a magnificent character study of a Woman Interrupted...a woman whose whole life revolves around the black hole of lost identity, a giant lie perpetuated by those who pretend to have cared for her.
It's a about monstrous hypocrisy and what happens to people when they are kept from essential knowledge about themselves. It's about cruelty that drives people to self-destruct. Damn, it's good.
After Faulkner and Joyce, Mary McGarry Morris has had the most significant effect on my writing. Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Ford, Russell Barnes ("Affliction"), Alice McDermott, Annie Prioux, Stephen King, Toni Morrison...they are all to be studied, and I owe them so much. But Mary is the greatest writer in America today.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "joanlouise_100" on June 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
I found this book SO exasperating. Fiona is totally unsympathetic. Within a single paragraph, she thinks she's being dismissed by her family, then she likes them, then her feelings are hurt by some perceived slight, and on and on it goes. I thought it was carelessly written; it felt very lazy to me - it could have done with serious editing. Plus, I couldn't shake the feeling that the book was set in the 40s or 50s, which is fine, if the book REALLY were set in those decades; I had to keep reminding myself this was supposedly set in the current day. I finished the book because I just had to see if it was going to be ludicrous to the very end, and it was. Even the "happy ending" was apathetic and tacked-on.
I've liked the author's other books, so I was most disappointed when I finally got my hands on this one. I did finish it, but I sure won't be passing it on to my friends!
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