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Wayward Saints Hardcover – January 17, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Suzzy Roche was one-third of the female vocal folk-rock group from New Jersey known as the Roches. With their lovely harmonies and quirky lyrics, their music was, much like this first novel, idiosyncratic and uniquely humorous. The story fluctuates in time and place, from Glasgow and upstate New York to Nashville and San Francisco as Roche turns her experiences as a musician into fodder for fiction. Mary Saint is a former lead singer of a defunct indie band with the unlikely name of Sliced Ham and a penchant for odd song titles (“Sewer Flower” and “You’re a Pig”). After the death of a fellow band member and lover, she decides to leave the music world. The other main character is Mary’s mother, Jean Saint, who has her own set of troubles. Roche pokes fun at the music business in ways that only a true insider can while offering insights into family, faith, and the past. Fans of the Roches will enjoy this tale, as will any reader who values a well-turned phrase or a story well told. --June Sawyers


"Not every dazzling musician has a novel in her, but Suzzy Roche, among all her other gifts, is a novelist, the genuine article. Wayward Saints is funny, smart, poignant, the prose so clear, so direct, so true. This book is a joy."―Jane Hamilton, author of The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World

"Wayward Saints is full of wonderful observations about family, fame, guilt, aging, the stupid music business, and the power & glory of performing and creating. Most importantly, Suzzy Roche has written a book about love and redemption. And it's funny! I loved the little details and the big surprises."―Loudon Wainwright, Grammy-winning songwriter

"If you've ever had the privilege of hearing Suzzy Roche sing, you know all about her perfect pitch, her angel's voice, her subtle wit. Her masterful debut novel Wayward Saints (Voice) mines these same prodigious gifts. When Mary Saint, a once-promising indie rocker, is invited to perform in her hometown, where her mother Jean still holds court, the two are forced into a long-deferred reckoning: with each other and with the demons of their past. This is a golden-threaded tale of redemption, of the transformative powers of art, and of the mysteries, pains and sacrifices of love."―Deborah Copaken Kogan, author of Hell Is Other Parents and The Red Book

"Spoiler alert: this book is wonderful from beginning to end. I loved every page."―Patty Marx, author of Starting from Happy

"I'm jealous! How can it be that someone who sings like Suzzy Roche can also write this well, tell us so much not only about the music business but about the large hearts of her characters, the locales of their deepest pain and the sources of their strength? Her language is dazzling -- unpredictable, supremely funny, irreverent, and full of authority. Wayward Saints is the best and most surprising debut novel I've read since I can't remember when."―Rosellen Brown, author of Half a Heart and Before and After

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Voice (January 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401341772
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401341770
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,251,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here's a confession: i grew up listening to the Roche Sisters. They were so charming, and kind of haunting too - just beautiful. But that's neither here or there. Well, I suppose it IS important since when i heard suzzy roche had written her first novel, and that it was amazing (a few rumor-mongers told me that) that I knew I had to read it.

Well, guess what? Sometimes people are right! Wayward Saints is one of those incredible debuts that just leaves you scratching your head and wondering about how fair the world is - after all, Suzzy Roche is a wonderful singer and, it turns out, a wonderful WRITER, too. How fair is that that one person can do two things better than 99 percent of the population? (The answer is that it is not fair). Wayward Saints is about a woman, a musician, who returns to her hometown where she has to confront the ghosts of her past, and one really big human being, her mother. The novel is as delicate as a Roche Sisters harmony, but also funny and wise and totally satisfying. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised that this woman can write, and tell a story, this well. Maybe an artist is an artist. But I know this for sure - that Wayward Saints is one of those novels that you will be unable to get out of your head, and in that way it is like a Roche Sisters song. And I say this as someone who doesn't always naturally connect to mother-daughter dramas. But Suzzy Roche is the real deal - a great musician who is also a first-rate writer.

In short, read this book. I hear the author is doing a mini book tour - singing as well as reading from her novel (she is not singing her novel - those are two different things). If i can, I want to show up at one. The book - and Suzzy - are THAT good.
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Format: Hardcover
Wayward Saints by Suzzy Roche is a novel about love, spirituality, loss and redemption. It tells the story of singer Mary Saint who once was in an alternative rock/grunge band called Sliced Ham. After the tragic death of her lover and band member, Garbagio, the band does not perform again. When the novel opens, it is seven years after Garbagio's death and Mary has not picked up a guitar in that whole time.

Mary comes from a small town named Swallow in upstate New York. An English teacher from the local high school approaches Mary's mother, Jean, with the idea of Mary performing in the local high school - the very same one that Mary attended. When Jean asks Mary about performing, Mary says yes, as much to her own surprise as to her mother's. Mary and her mother have a complicated relationship. It is loving but there is a lot of baggage. For years, Mary's father, who is now in a nursing home due to a stroke, abused the both of them physically. Mary can't figure out why her mother didn't leave him. Due to the extent of the abuse, Mary left home at sixteen, angry and despondent but filled with hope to make something of herself.

Mary is now living in San Francisco with her friend Thaddeus, a `chocolate tranny'. Mary met Thaddeus in her church when he was homeless and offered him a place to stay in her apartment rent free. Mary's heart is big and bold and she holds nothing back. Her songs are like that as well - fierce, strident, loving, independent, and not of the mainstream.

Jean is a religious catholic and is concerned about Mary's upcoming performance. She herself is unable to listen to Mary's music because of the lyrics and the dystonic flavor of the songs. Some of the titles are `You're a Pig' and `Sewer Flower'.
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Format: Hardcover
By Suzzy Roche
Hyperion, 259 pgs
Rating: 3

(Aside: This book was shipped to me with Wayward Saints as the addressee, causing my stepmother and sister to inquire as to whether I'd joined a cult.)

Saint is the surname of the principle characters in Wayward Saints: Bub, Jean and Mary. Bub and Mary are definitely wayward, while Jean is just painfully inhibited and scared witless. They live in a small town called Swallow which is painted as a stultifying cliche of a hide-bound neo-con backwater. Bub was frequently unemployed and fond of knocking around his wife and daughter. Jean was thoroughly cowed and unable to protect her daughter. Mary, understandably, became a teenager full of rage directed at everyone and everything, eventually high-tailing it out of Swallow at seventeen. Who could blame her? Not me.

Mary went on to form a very successful "alternative" band called Sliced Ham. She found a socially acceptable way to misbehave: rock star. And she lived up to the reputation, forced into rehab after a tragedy, both professional and personal. Mary leaves rehab to find a disbanded band, her manager drops her, royalties are drying up, so she aimlessly withdraws from the planet. Mary's redemption and resurrection happen, of course, in Swallow, where she agrees to play a concert for the high school. She has not set foot in Swallow since she was seventeen, nor has she seen her mother or father. So we come full circle.

My favorite character was Jean Saint, Mary's mother. She began this tale as a beaten and abused mother and wife, always trying to placate a husband who couldn't be. She was bound by convention, scared of the "shoulds," frankly she got on my nerves.
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