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Maine Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 14, 2011
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"Cometh the Hour" by Jeffrey Archer
Cometh the Hour is the penultimate book in the Clifton Chronicles and, like the five previous novels - all of which hit the New York Times bestseller list - showcases Jeffrey Archer's extraordinary storytelling with his trademark twists. Learn more | See author page
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Having spent my favorite childhood summers in Maine, I was so excited for J. Courtney Sullivan’s new novel, Maine. Would her story of three generations of Kelleher women who find themselves back at their summer home--all facing their own secret hardships and challenges--deliver? It certainly did.
It is the final summer in Maine for the Kelleher family, and its four strong-willed women are dreaming of bare feet, cocktails at sunset, and that magical ocean air. Alice is the matriarch, a regular fixture at morning mass, and an equally regular fixture in the wicker chair on the sun porch where she spends all afternoon drinking manhattans and smoking cigarettes. Maggie is Alice’s granddaughter, a thirty-two-year-old writer who has just realized she's pregnant, a fact she has yet to tell her off-again boyfriend. Maggie’s mother, Kathleen, is the prodigal daughter, camped out in California, wishing desperately to avoid the annual Kelleher showdown. And Ann Marie, Alice’s daughter-in-law, is the long-suffering martyr and avid dollhouse collector who is determined to keep this chaotic household in order.
Over the course of this summer, long-held secrets are revealed, embarrassing crushes bloom, and gallons of vodka are consumed. While Alice must face reminders of a devastating tragedy, Maggie has to decide what to do about Gabe and the baby, Kathleen comes face to face with the woman she most fears, and Ann Marie desperately tries to maintain the image of a perfect family.
Sullivan spins an unhurried and thoughtful tale that delves into familial love, romantic heartaches, tightly-held longings, and a lot of hope. I loved these women and felt grateful to join them as they returned to Maine--just in time to figure out where they needed to go next.
"I have never stayed at this cottage in Maine, or any cottage in Maine, but no matter: I now feel I know what it's like being in a family that comes to the same place summer after summer, unpacking their familiar longings, slights, shorthand conversation, and ways of being together. J. Courtney Sullivan's Maine is evocative, funny, close-quartered, and highly appealing." –Meg Wolitzer, author of The Uncoupling
“An ideal summer read. . . . Gives us . . . characters we can care about, despite their sometimes too-familiar flaws.” —USA Today
“Attentive to class distinctions and hierarchies, as well as historic pressures and family dynamics, Sullivan presents women who may be stubborn and difficult, but she does so with such compassion and humor that we, too, end up rooting for them. Even if Maine weren't set on a beach, it would be a perfect beach book.” —Chicago Tribune
"Sullivan’s smarts shed light on topics all families deal with, but her tasteful approach on the tough ones (particularly modern-day religious issues) shine through. The cast of quirky characters will have you laughing out loud and aching for their regrets in the same chapter, pining for more pages when it comes to an end." —MarieClaire.com
"Maine’s brisk storytelling, and the unfurling of its central mystery . . . sweep readers along with gratifying sink-into-your-deck-chair ease." —Entertainment Weekly
"Curl up with this wry, absorbing novel and eavesdrop on a summer’s worth of secrets, feuds, and misunderstandings." —Parade magazine
"Ms. Sullivan’s follow-up to her best-selling novel, Commencement . . . follows adult children who gather at their beach cottage in Maine to sip that familial cocktail of misery and love. . . . Once the women are together, the fuse is lighted. Ms. Sullivan locks the doors and waits for the explosion." —The New York Times
"[Sullivan] validates the old adage that you can pick your friends, but you are stuck with your relatives. This is a powerful, evocative story, beautifully written to reveal raw human emotions. . . . Fresh and lively. . . . This is a well-crafted story about destructive family relationships and shameful behavior, loaded with tension, secrets, booze, marital conflict, stinging arguments, and some very funny scenes." —The New Maine Times
"Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan is a powerful novel about the ties that bind families tight, no matter how dysfunctional. Sullivan has created in the Kelleher women a cast of flawed but lovable characters so real, with their shared history of guilt and heartache and secret resentments, that I’m sure I’ll be thinking about them for a long time to come." –Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot
"Everyone has dark secrets. It’s why God invented confession and booze, two balms frequently employed in Sullivan’s well-wrought sophomore effort. Alice Brennan is Irish American through and through, the daughter of a cop, a good Catholic girl so outwardly pure that she’s a candidate for the papacy. . . . As Sullivan’s tale unfolds, there are plenty of reasons that Alice might wish to avoid taking too close a look at her life: There’s tragedy and heartbreak around every corner, as there is in every life. . . . Sullivan spins a leisurely yarn that looks into why people do the things they do—particularly when it comes to drinking and churchgoing—and why the best-laid plans are always the ones the devil monkeys with the most thoroughly. The story will be particularly meaningful to Catholic women, though there are no barriers to entry for those who are not of that faith. Mature, thoughtful, even meditative at times—but also quite entertaining." –Kirkus
"At the heart of this compelling novel of three generations of women emotionally stunted by fate and willful stubbornness is the family vacation property in Cape Neddick, ME, where the Kellehers have convened for six decades. . . . In her second novel (after Commencement), Sullivan brilliantly lays out the case for the nearly futile task of these three generations of badly damaged Irish Catholic women seeking acceptance from one another." –Library Journal
"Sullivan creates deeply observed and believable [characters]. . . . Moody matriarch Alice, her uninvolved hippie daughter Kathleen, brown-nosing daughter-in-law Mary Ann, and newly-single, thirtysomething granddaughter Maggie each has a simmering-below-the surface inner-monologue that lights a spark, and Sullivan makes sure we can only anticipate an explosion. Sullivan gracefully meets the challenge of crafting a cast clearly pulled from the same DNA soup, without a clunk or hitch in the machinery." –Booklist
More About the Author
Courtney's writing has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, Elle, Glamour, Allure, and the New York Observer, among many others. She is a co-editor of Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Visit Courtney at www.jcourtneysullivan.com or on Twitter at @jcourtsull
Top Customer Reviews
Yes, the book is about a very dysfunctional family. True, they own a lovely cottage and summer house in Maine. But there is very little time spent on any of the fun of summer vacations spent there. Most of the book is flashbacks, telling the stories of the family members back home. None of them have much happiness to tell either. And the book tells the story only through the eyes and voices of the women (which normally can make a great book), but I can't help but feel the men in this family could have added a great deal of interest, depth, and point of view. What did Daniel really think of his wife? What about Pat?
My favorite thing about my favorite books is always the characters. When you finish a good book, you feel sad it is over because you loved the characters so much and you will miss them. In "Maine" there wasn't one character I grew to love or even like. Perhaps the author dwelled only on their struggles and depressing aspects, but you just don't feel happy to be sharing your time with them (not when you were expecting dyfunction, but with a side dose of fun, anyways).
And there is no humor, nothing funny what so ever in this book to lighten up the grim past or mood-dampening characters. There is not a single laugh out loud moment. Not even anything that made me even smirk or crack half a smile. It's as if the person who made the blurbs did not even read the book. If the blurb was better fitting to the story it might have been a better reading experience.Read more ›
For me, the characters were the best part of the book. I could identify with all of them, but with one in particular. They were all so unique, so interesting and quirky, yet completely believable. The writing was simple but flowed well. Honestly, I couldn't put the book down, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an easy but pleasantly layered read.
Alice's daughter-in-law, Ann Marie, has done her best, for the 35 years of her marriage, to earn a place in the family and Alice's affections. Deep down, Ann Marie has no great affection for the Kellehers, but she is a good Irish Catholic girl----and Ann Marie covets that summer home.
Alice's first child, Kathleen, broke away from her family after her beloved father's death, and moved to California. Kathleen has been on the wagon for over 20 years and has achieved relative serenity through a good relationship with her partner of 10 years, yoga, healthy living and various self-help mantras, not to mention keeping away from her poisonous mother and the unhealthy rivalry she has with Ann Marie. Kathleen's daughter, Maggie, is notoriously bad at choosing men and finally ends her relationship with her latest disaster shortly after learning she is pregnant.
As with most family dramas, this one introduces us to the characters and gives us each one's point of view.Read more ›
What could those editors at Knopf be thinking? Is this truly the best they can do?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved this book, a trip inside the Maine summer retreat of the Kellihers, letting us get to know them, warts and all. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Kathleen Salzberg
I enjoyed it for what the content was. It's an age old conflict with families with inlaws and outlaws. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jean Chapman
Interesting take on a totally disfunctional family with good charactersPublished 3 months ago by Jane Tonkin
My sister loaned me this book and we haven't compared notes on it yet, but man, I found it depressing. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Carolyn Steele Agosta
Excellent story with lots of twists & turns. Can imagine your own family having similar problems.Published 4 months ago by Gloria Campbell
I really enjoyed the book. I struggle with finding books that are compelling enough that I WANT to read them, but not so engaging that I want to stay up all night reading them. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Rachel L