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Margaret from Maine: A Novel Paperback – December 24, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Margaret Kennedy’s husband, Thomas, gravely injured in Afghanistan, is still in a vegetative coma six years later. Her life revolves around their six-year-old son, Gordon, and helping her father-in-law run their small family dairy farm in Maine. Then she’s invited to Washington, D.C., for the signing of a bill to help families like hers. Her escort is Charlie King, a Foreign Service officer, and he and Margaret feel an immediate connection. The two embark on a whirlwind romance, attending an embassy ball and taking a trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but their time together is short-lived since Margaret is still married and Charlie is leaving for Africa. Years pass before they’re reunited. Monninger, author of Eternal on the Water (2010), covers themes of loss and longing with a few treacly moments, strengthening the impact of the novel with his insights into the timely topic of the cruel toll of modern warfare, and the beauty of his depictions of the eastern U.S. --Aleksandra Walker


“Monninger comes to writing with his five senses wide open, and his sharply focused imagery has the rare quality of being entirely original while producing a jolt of startled recognition in the reader.” -The New York Times Book Review

“Monninger is a brilliant writer.” -Luanne Rice

"Fans of John Irving, you have a new author to love." Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice and Left Neglected

"Monninger’s imagery resonates long into the night, while your lamp burns oil because you cannot put the book down until the last page is turned." -Romantic Times (4 stars)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (December 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452298687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452298682
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,407,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joseph Monninger has published fourteen novels and three non-fiction books. His work has appeared in American Heritage, Scientific American, Readers Digest, Glamour, Playboy, Story, Fiction, The Boston Globe, Sports Illustrated and Ellery Queen, among other publications. He has twice received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and has also received a fellowship from the New Hampshire Council for the Arts. His young adult novel, Baby, was awarded the 2008 award for best children's literature from the Peace Corps Writers. It was also chosen as a top ten book by YALSA, the American Library Association. The Bulletin of the Center for Children's' Books awarded Hippie Chick, a young adult novel, a blue ribbon for a top book of 2008.

Joseph Monninger grew up in Westfield, New Jersey and attended Temple University on a football scholarship. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Upper Volta, now Burkina Faso, from 1975-77. He has been a licensed New Hampshire Fishing Guide and has fly-fished from New Zealand to Wyoming's Wind River Range. He lives in a converted barn near New Hampshire's Baker River. For several years his family competed in the New England Sled Dog sprint races and ran a small sled dog business in New Hampshire's White Mountains.

As a teacher at one time or another at the University of New Hampshire, the Lincoln School in Providence, Rhode Island, The American International School in Vienna, and at Plymouth State University, Joseph Monninger has spent thirty years in classrooms. During the summers he directed academic enrichment programs at Williams and Amherst Colleges. He led student groups on bicycle tours across Europe, sailed the Whitsunday Islands near the Great Barrier Reef, and worked on community service projects in Montserrat, West Indies and on the Crow Reservation in Montana. He has taken a mail boat across the southern edge of Newfoundland and, as a young man, hitch-hiked across the United States three times.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Virginia Campbell on December 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
As I began to read "Margaret from Maine", by author Joseph Monninger, the fluidity of the story line and the immediacy of the characters quickly drew me in. Before I knew it, I had finished the book, but I didn't feel finished with the characters--I wanted to read more. I wanted to know what the future held for these people whose loneliness led them to each other. Margaret Kennedy's husband, Tom, was considered a war hero. His personal sacrifice to save a comrade had left him in a vegetative state. His body lived, but the spirit of the man had long ago left his physical shell. We meet Tom in the first chapter of the book, and experience the horrible moment which changed the lives of all the Kennedys forever. Tom never got to know his young son, Gordon, and Margaret took over the running of their dairy farm with the assistance of Tom's father, Ben. Six years after Tom was wounded, Margaret receives an invitation to attend the Washington, DC signing of a bill to improve care for comatose veterans. Margaret would be escorted to DC by Charlie King, a member of the diplomatic core with whom she had conversed by phone. Charlie is himself a veteran, assigned to desk duty after losing part of one leg due to a battle wound. When Charlie and Margaret meet, there is an immediate and intense attraction of both body and soul. The trip to DC becomes an extended romantic interlude, one that is unexpected and irresistible despite the undercurrent of conflict. Margaret never expected to be with any man other than her husband, but Charlie is warm and courtly, and his attention to her is like sustenance for her too-long-deprived female sensibilities. Charlie is smitten, and he knows it. Margaret is the woman he has waited for his entire life, but how to make her see it?Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By S. Beaulieu on December 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I started reading this beautiful story Christmas evening, next thing I knew it was over. I don't want Margaret's story to end. I don't want Gordon's story to end. This was the most beautifully woven story the best I have read in a long time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sara Palacios on January 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I was provided with a copy of Margaret from Maine by Joseph Monninger in exchange for an honest review.

This book begins with Margaret Kennedy, who lives on a dairy farm in a very rural part in Maine. Her husband Thomas, was injured in war overseas and left in a vegetative state due to his bravery. His body lived, but the spirit of the man had long ago left his physical shell. That made things very hard from Margaret as she is made to care for Thomas, as well as take care of the dairy farm and their young son. Her spirit breaks with each passing day. But, when the President signs a bill in support of wounded veterans, she hopes that things will start to change and that she will find some relief. She receives a chance invitation to the capital, and Charlie King, a handsome Foreign Service officer, takes it upon himself to escort her there. But, what happens on the trip is what makes this story special, because the two of them fall in love. But, things become difficult. With her husband still alive and breathing, although no longer really alive in every sense of the word, she is torn by the man that she once loved and her duty to him as his wife ... but torn also because her heart longs to be happy with Charlie. Will the two be able to find a way to make it work? Or will their love be lost forever?

I haven't read a book this good in such a long time. Joseph Monninger truly has a way with words and this book tugged at my heart strings the entire read. I felt for Margaret as she was faced with such a heartbreaking event when her husband was injured in war. But, she loved him and as his wife she took care of him day in and day out. But, I can only imagine what she must have felt like, or how alone she felt.
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Format: Paperback
I'm always impressed when a novelist can write perceptively and capably about a protagonist of the opposite gender, particularly when the author is male, as that seems like the less common scenario. Joseph Monninger, whose previous books also have occasionally featured female protagonists, handles his project smartly and adeptly in MARGARET FROM MAINE, his latest romance, which is set in the wake of the conflict in Afghanistan.

Margaret Kennedy is still a young woman, but she sure doesn't feel that way. For the past six years, she's been a widow in thought if not in fact, since her husband Thomas has been in a persistent vegetative state following his heroic service in the military, during which he effectively lost his life to save another's. Margaret and Thomas's young son, Gordon, only knows his father as a lifeless man in a hospital bed. Margaret, who runs the family's dairy farm nearly singlehandedly, has come to feel as if her whole family's life, not just Thomas's, is in a state of suspended animation, unlikely or even impossible to change or improve.

That is, until Charlie King, another veteran (he lost his leg in conflict), comes to Maine to accompany Margaret to a ceremony in Washington, DC, that will recognize Thomas's heroism as President Obama signs a veterans' rights bill into law. Margaret is unprepared for her physical and emotional response to Charlie, and over the course of a memorable and life-changing weekend, she must confront her own ideas about fidelity, loyalty, responsibility and love.

Monninger frequently shifts points of view from Margaret to Charlie to Gordon (who, it turns out, is confronting his own quiet struggles) to Margaret's friend Blake and her father-in-law Ben.
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