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Maine (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – May 29, 2012
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“[A] ruthless and tender novel about the way love can sometimes redeem even the most contentious of families. Like all first-rate comic fiction, Maine uses humor to examine the truths of the heart, in New England and far beyond.” —The Washington Post Book World
“Sullivan beguiles us again. . . . Crackling-smart.” —Elle
“By the time you’re through with Maine, you’ll be craving a lobster roll and a trip to Kennebunkport.” —The Oregonian
“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.” —Chicago Tribune
“A gem. . . . Sullivan gives us three sunny, alcoholic acres of Maine coastline and three generations of Kelleher women.” —Time
“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
“A wonderful page-turner. . . . Sullivan narrates the tale with verve and precision, drawing the reader into a compelling portrait of a specific family as it changes with the values and accidents of each era.” —Providence Journal
“Nostalgic at times, up-to-the-minute at others, this meaty novel proves that Sullivan understands family.” —Newark Star-Ledger
“Gives us . . . characters we can care about, despite their sometimes too-familiar flaws.” —USA Today
“Maine’s brisk storytelling and the unfurling of its central mystery . . . sweep readers along with gratifying sink-into-your-deck-chair ease.” —Entertainment Weekly
“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
“Curl up with this wry, absorbing novel and eavesdrop on a summer’s worth of secrets, feuds, and misunderstandings.” —Parade magazine
“A wonderful page-turner.” —Providence Journal
“Maine covers a lot of multigenerational emotional ground and a lot of family history. As the story progresses, it’s intriguing to see the current dysfunction trace its way back through the generations to its roots in Catholic guilt, alcoholism and bad decisions. . . . Sullivan captures the beauty of the coast, the magic of a black-as-velvet sky lit with stars, the pleasures of a seaside lobster pound.” —Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Articulate, insightful, profound.” —The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA)
“A keeper! . . . Sullivan has done a bang-up job showing us a family full of dysfunctionals who remind us of people we may just know or be related to.” —Naples Daily News
“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
“[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.” —The New Maine Times
“Sullivan turns from friendships to family, writing with the same warmth and nuance as Commencement, but pushing her characters farther, creating an even more complex and satisfying whole.” —BookPage
“A delectable beach read as vast and sprawling in scope as the Kellehers’ three-acre family property it details. . . . In Maine, Sullivan explores with grace, depth and good humor what it means to belong to an Irish-American family.” —Irish America magazine
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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 ›
Much like Commencement, Maine is the story of four women, with chapters flip-flopping back and forth between them. But rather than friends, these women are related, and each harboring their own secret. The story is set as summer starts, and the four women converge upon the family summer house in Maine, one won by a lucky game of poker right after World War II. Generations have descended upon it, however this may be the last one.
Alice, the great-grandmother, still pines for the sister she lost 60 years ago in an accident. With her loving husband gone, she's decided to give the house away to her church once the summer was over. With very little maternal instincts, she believes the church has been there for her the most. Kathleen is her eldest daughter, the black sheep of the family who is strikingly like Alice. She's set her life to be different than her mother's, and has literally moved across the country to get away from the family and the pain she went through growing up. Maggie is Kathleen's daughter, a writer in New York who recently discovered she's pregnant. Now alone, she doesn't know what to do, but knows she wants to keep the child and at the same time, learn more about the family it's being born into. Ann-Marie is Alice's daughter-in-law, married to Alice's son Patrick. Ann-Marie is perfect, with a perfect house, perfect children, and perfect way with people. Yet, things aren't as wonderful as they seem, so she takes out her domestic frustration by building doll houses, creating more perfect worlds.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really had trouble getting through this one. Didn't like any of the characters, the story never really came together for me, and the chapters were loooong.Published 10 days ago by Erika P.
Very disappointed in the ending - when I invest in reading a book and spend time getting to intimately know a family , I don't appreciate having to write my own ending. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Patricia W. Rydquist
Especially good for a summer read. I thought the characters were developed well, and it was good to see the story from all their different points of view. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Sharrun19
Although I wish the ending would have turned out differently, I enjoyed this book immensely. Several of the characters reminded me of some of my real-life relatives!Published 1 month ago by M Fox
The family is real with no apologies. Sounded just like my own family growing up. Loved the different voices telling the same storiesPublished 1 month ago by Janet Mahoney
A thoughtful, multi-generational meditation on family and women's roles within them throughout the past hundred years on the East Coast of the USA.Published 1 month ago by Renee Humphrey
Hard to like most of the characters. Didn't seem to have any resolution to any of their problems. Generational problems that seem to have them in a holding pattern. Read morePublished 2 months ago by bjohn