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Wayward Saints Hardcover – January 17, 2012
"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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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'.Read more ›
Hyperion, 259 pgs
(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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting story written in a different way. This book was very interesting, hard to put your finger on it but it was different from your usual book yet very captivating.Published on September 2, 2013 by S Conway
Good story with interesting characters. I ordered this book after going to a concert by Maggie and Suzzy Roche. Enjoyed the book quite a lot.Published on May 17, 2013 by Resi3
This slim book is well written and taut, as a traumatized folk/rock singer whose short burst of stardom is long gone attempts to rebuild her life. Highly recommended. Read morePublished on December 26, 2012 by Meg Cox
*sigh* What a beautiful story. I wasn't sure at first. Almost like a song that you've never heard before. Read morePublished on June 26, 2012 by AimeeKay
I've liked most of the Roches' music for a few years now, so I was excited to read Suzzy Roche's debut novel and asked my local library to order it for me. What a mistake. Read morePublished on March 11, 2012 by Amazon Customer
Suzzy Roche's insider's view of the music business and the price it can extract from those who live in it is only part of the story of the excellence of this novel. Read morePublished on February 10, 2012 by ArtsFan
Having loved her music for years, this novel is everything I expected from from Suzzy Roche -- wise, funny, flippant and moving. Read morePublished on February 5, 2012 by fictionlover
Mary Saint is the main character and very interesting. She is not your typical lead singer or musician. She marches to the beat of her own drum. Read morePublished on January 27, 2012 by Chels
For me, this was an unusual novel. In places it was well written and interesting, but there were other plot, characters and storylines that were not fully flushed out. Read morePublished on January 22, 2012 by Rory E. Oconnor