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Blessings Mass Market Paperback – March 30, 2004
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The plot of Anna Quindlen's novel Blessings is constructed on the same model as E.T.: adorable orphaned creature is found by unlikely caregiver who against his or her better judgment falls in love with the little beast, while all the while, the authorities loom in the background, threatening to take the foundling away. In Quindlen's book, however, the foundling in question isn't an alien, but a squalling baby left at Blessings, a vast estate owned by an ancient, crabby matriarch named Lydia Blessing. By a fluke, the baby's parents abandon her by the garage rather than at the front door, and so she is discovered by Skip Cuddy, Lydia Blessing's newly hired handyman, who happens to be an ex-con. The plot proceeds from there in fairly E.T.-like fashion, minus the Reese's Pieces and flying bicycles. Skip, Lydia, and the baby they name Faith form a surprisingly loving and sustaining, albeit temporary, family unit.
Quindlen wrings a remarkable amount of pathos from this somewhat simple setup. One of her strengths as a writer is the quietness she brings to her story; family secrets of paternity and lost love are buried deep in the narrative, hidden in descriptive paragraphs where they subtly zing us with their news. Her ear is good, too: we believe Skip and his bad-boy friends when they're shooting the breeze. Best of all is her flair for observation. The book wouldn't work at all if she couldn't make us feel Skip and Lydia's amazement at the small joys of a baby ("The deep pleat in the fat at her elbow made her arms look muscled"). Here is a book that lives up to its title. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Venturing into fictional territory far from the blue-collar neighborhoods of Black and Blue and other works, Quindlen's immensely appealing new novel is a study in social contrasts and of characters whose differences are redeemed by the transformative power of love. The eponymous Blessings is a stately house now gone to seed, inhabited by Mrs. Blessing, an 80-year-old wealthy semirecluse with an acerbic tongue and a reputation for hanging on to every nickel. Widowed during WWII, Lydia Blessing was banished to her socially prominent family's country estate for reasons that are revealed only gradually. Austere, unbending and joyless, Lydia has no idea, when she hires young Skip Cuddy as her handyman, how her life and his are about to change. Skip had promise once, but bad companions and an absence of parental guidance have led to a stint in the county jail. When Skip stumbles upon a newborn baby girl who's been abandoned at Blessings, he suddenly has a purpose in life. With tender devotion, he cares secretly for the baby for four months, in the process forming a bond with Mrs. Blessing, who discovers and admires his clandestine parenting skills. A double betrayal destroys their idyll. As usual, Quindlen's fine-tuned ear for the class distinctions of speech results in convincing dialogue. Evoking a bygone patrician world, she endows Blessings with an almost magical aura. While it skirts sentimentality by a hairbreadth, the narrative is old-fashioned in a positive way, telling a dramatic story through characters who develop and change, and testifying to the triumph of human decency when love is permitted to grow and flourish.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Late one night, a teenaged couple abandons their newborn baby at the garage door of "Blessings", an estate inhabited by the elderly Lydia Blessing and her young handyman, Skip Cuddy.....and thus set off a chain of events that will propel both of these characters on a journey of discovery.
Skip, who lives over the garage and finds the foundling, will discover unexpected depths of feelings for this little one, whom he names Faith. He also discovers the nurture of which he is capable--and what the tribulations of fatherhood can be. This baby gives Skip's life a structure and purpose that it never had before. Lydia discovers that perhaps doing what is expected is not always the "good" thing to do....and questions what the "right" thing to do really is. She has lived in the past for so long, thinking about her family's many secrets, but this baby brings her into the present with a welcome jolt.
Despite trying to keep Faith's presence a secret, Lydia finds out that Skip has taken on the role of "father" to this baby, and the three of them become an unlikely sort of family. Quindlen shows us how a family is not necessarily comprised of those related by blood, but can be a unit made up of people who need, support, and care for each other. Together, Skip and Lydia find unexpected joy in Faith and find resources within themselves of which they were unaware. These two characters, of such different backgrounds and ages, also allow the author to tell the same story in two very different ways.
Quindlen has written a richly descriptive and moving novel, one of redemption and personal growth, and about doing the right thing. Her observational skills, so evident in the columns she has written over the years, make us understand and care about these characters, their pasts, and how their lives affect others.
I loved the double meaning of the title,"Blessings"...for not only was it the name of a house, but blessings were what these characters bestowed on each other.
A wonderful reading experience that this reader will remember with great pleasure.
The story begins with a baby being abandoned late one night by a teenage girl and the father of the baby. The baby is dressed in a flannel shirt with a hair clip on its umbilical cord and left by the garage in a cardboard box.
The box is then found by Skip, a house hand. Skip has never been around children much less a baby. He takes the newborn in as his own and the story begins. He becomes attached to the baby and raises it as his own... all the while keeping it a secret. We are then swept along as Skip learns to care for the baby and ends up dedicating his life to the baby. (I don't want to give up to much information on the baby.)
The name of the estate where the baby is left is called "Blessings" ... owned by an eighty-year-old wealthy woman named Lydia Blessings. As the story continues we learn the secrets of Lydia Blessings and her family ... AND, there are many secrets! The characters are richly written ... you will find yourself bonding with many of them as you learn their secrets. BUT, be prepared for some tears ... keep the Kleenex close at hand.
There are many "BLESSINGS" in this story. You will not be disappointed with this novel. It is a must read.
Blessings is the story of how this child changes Skip's life, as well as that of old, bitter matriarch Mrs. Lydia Blessing, who surprises us by helping Skip keep the baby.
This slow-paced, descriptive novel uses flashbacks from Mrs. Blessing's life, allowing the reader to discover this woman little by little, from her childhood, to her brother Sunny, to her marriage and her relationship with her daughter.
This novel includes some unexpected twists that help to make this cast of wonderful characters oh so human.
I hope you enjoy this book as I did.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Anna Quindlen is a good story teller, her books really hold your attention.