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What Matters Most: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – June 24, 2008

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553589709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553589702
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 4.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #627,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

True love never dies—but it may need the helping hand of the Virgin Mary and the luck o' the Irish to survive in Rice's latest, effectively a sequel to last year's Sandcastles. Sister Bernadette Ignatius (the former Bernie Sullivan), Mother Superior at the coastal Connecticut Star of the Sea Academy, travels to Dublin with Tom Kelly, the academy's ombudsman, seeking James, the son they gave up over 20 years ago. In a parallel narrative set up in a prologue, young James and Kathleen, raised together as orphans, are devastated when they are forced to separate when Kathleen is 13. While Bernie and Tom look for James (now calling himself Seamus), James searches for Kathleen, who pines for him in a Newport, R.I., mansion, where she is a cook and maid for an atrocious, wealthy family. Rice juices up the predictable plot line with miraculous visions, ghosts, convenient encounters and melodramatic twists of fate—yet the effects are still lukewarm, though there's guilt, redemption and three-hankie moments aplenty for those who stick it out to the end. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Rice returns to familiar haunts in her latest romantic family saga. She also reprises two characters from last year's Sandcastles (2006): Sister Bernadette, the superior at a girls' school in Connecticut, and Tom Kelly, the groundskeeper who has always loved her. They are on a mission, traveling to Dublin to locate the son they left with the sisters at a convent 23 years earlier, just before Bernie became a nun. Unbeknownst to Bernie and Tom, their son, James, was never placed with a loving family but instead lived a lonely life at the children's home, his only friend a girl his age, Kathleen, from whom he was separated when they were 13. Rice skillfully weaves together the stories of these two apparently doomed romances, shifting across time and continents, as Bernie and Tom try to reconnect with James, and as Kathleen, now working in America, waits for her first love to find her there. While a few hurdles are removed too conveniently, Rice's characters are engaging, compelling the reader to keep those pages turning until all loose threads are tied. Donovan, Deborah
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

LUANNE RICE is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty one novels, most recently THE LEMON ORCHARD. Her novels, including Cloud Nine and Last Kiss often center on love, family, nature and the sea, and have been translated into twenty-four languages. A number of Rice's novels have been adapted for television, including Crazy in Love for TNT, Blue Moon for CBS, the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentations of Follow the Stars Home and Silver Bells, and Beach Girls as a summer drama series for Lifetime Television. She has contributed a theatrical piece to the new off Broadway play Motherhood Out Loud. Rice loves nature and frequently writes about it. Born in Connecticut, Rice divides her time between New York City and Southern California.

Customer Reviews

I couldn't put it down and I read it in one day.
Rebecca L. Ogden
It seems more along the lines of an outline that was never fleshed out - with characters that never lived.
Anybook Anytime
By the end of the book I came to dislike the character.
C. Ellen Connally

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Maudeen Wachsmith VINE VOICE on July 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just now finished this fabulous book -- though I must admit I could barely read the last 30 pages I was crying/sobbing so hard!!! Honestly, I couldn't see the pages. I dropped everything else I was reading when this book arrived Thursday but really started reading it voraciously Friday night, read until 2 AM and then have been reading it all day today. This is the story of Sister Bernadette and Tom Kelly from Sandcastles and their trip to Ireland to try to find the son they gave up for adoption 23 years earlier. I will admit to being disappointed by several of Luanne Rice's recent books (although I did enjoy Sandcastles) but this is without a doubt the best Luanne Rice has done in years, even better than the Roses series from a couple years ago. There was a little plot device toward the end that I wish she hadn't used but honestly, I can forgive her for it since the over 330 pages were so fabulous; pulled at the heartstrings so magnificently. Two of the hallmarks of a GREAT book for me --- if it makes me cry/sob and if I can read it straight through without putting it down. This had both. Second only to A Thousand Splendid Suns as the best book I have read all year. And PLEASE if you are going to read this book do not read the one-star review by Jean DeVilbiss from July 19th. She gives a MAJOR SPOILER, one that isn't in the book until waaayyyy at the end. To give this in a review on Amazon is absolutely unconscionable--and I can only hope that Amazon takes it down before it is ruined for other readers.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By JessamynMarie on July 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I loved the characters, the suspense, the aunguish. I don't always require a neat and tidy ending but was disappointed how it all turned out with Tom (that scene needed more detail, I found it unbelievable). Without writing a spoiler review, may I say: I wanted more for this character.

The questions that kept me reading: Would Bernie give up being a nun? Would Seamus and Kathleen reunite? Would all the characters reconcile? A good blend of apeal factors for me -- lots of "heart" the connection to Ireland, the various hopes each character had to get things right. At times melodramatic, but I couldn't put it down. I think my mother would love this; one of her favorite books is THORN BIRDS, which in some small way this resembles, at least in the Catholic appeal factors. Not that you have to be Catholic to enjoy it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Latlip on September 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I discovered Luanne Rice only early this year, and SANDCASTLES was the first of her books that I read. I liked it so much that I started backtracking, reading all of her books. She has become one of my favorite writers, although there are some early books that I don't care for too much (ANGELS ALL OVER TOWN for one). However, WHAT MATTERS MOST is the Luanne Rice book I'll be talking about with everyone I know. The characters are delightful...as a Catholic with Irish roots, I felt a connection with the passion, loyalty, friendship, and love of these Irish characters. The intensity of their love for one another, the conflicting emotions of a nun whose femininity and human heart are revealed in ways many Catholics don't want to see or have been too indoctrinated in tradition to realize...powerful, emotional, heartrending stuff here. I couldn't put the book down, I could hardly see the last 30 or so pages through my tears, and I find myself dreaming of the characters as if they were real. As someone who grapples with the validity of certain mysticism in the Catholic tradition myself, I found that my mind was opened to the possibility of a faith that enormous and a heart that open. I am so impressed with Luanne Rice and WHAT MATTERS MOST that I plan to buy this book for all the women in my large, Irish Catholic family.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 24, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I decided to give Luanne Rice another chance after I trashed her book Blue Moon. What Matters Most is incredible. I loved it and would recommend it to anyone! What a great story! Just keep the kleenex handy; you will need it. Great job!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. Ellen Connally on February 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I do a decent amount of driving so I listened to this book on CD. I commend the reader for a wonderful use of language and voices. But I must say if I were trying to read this book I would probably have given up. There is much significance to the title "What Matters Most" because what mattered most to Bernie - Sister Bernadette Ignatius - was her vocation. That decision to become a nun - supposedly because of a vision that she had - caused her to forsake her child and the love of her life. As the book went on, Bernie became more and more hollow and selfish. By the end of the book I came to dislike the character. With all of her so called holiness she wrecked the life of her son and the man who really loved her - all because she wanted to be a nun. If that were the case, how did she get pregnant in the first place. And how did Tom hang around all of those years? It didn't make sense.

I also found Tom and Bernie's love for their son hard to accept. For 23 years they never did any to check on his where abouts - they never called, wrote a letter or anything - they never confirmed that he was with the so called loving family. Bernie was in the same order - she could have found out something. With the influence Tom's family had, they could have placed the child themselves - it just didn't make sense. I also found it hard to believe that the convent took Bernie in after knowing that she had a baby and when she moved to America and became the mother superior - another fact I found hard to believe - her "ex" lived right there on the grounds.

For the true romantic maybe the plot is believable, but to me what matters most is believable characters. These weren't.
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