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Saints for All Occasions
by J. Courtney Sullivan


Overview - A NATIONAL BESTSELLER

"This year's best book about family." --Ron Charles, The Washington Post

A sweeping, unforgettable novel from The New York Times best-selling author of Maine , about the hope, sacrifice, and love between two sisters and the secret that drives them apart.  Read more...


 
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More About Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
 
 
 
Overview
A NATIONAL BESTSELLER

"This year's best book about family." --Ron Charles, The Washington Post

A sweeping, unforgettable novel from The New York Times best-selling author of Maine, about the hope, sacrifice, and love between two sisters and the secret that drives them apart.

Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Nora is the responsible sister; she's shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn't sure that she loves. Theresa is gregarious; she is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls on Dudley Street. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan--a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand. Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family with four grown children: John, a successful, if opportunistic, political consultant; Bridget, quietly preparing to have a baby with her girlfriend; Brian, at loose ends after a failed baseball career; and Patrick, Nora's favorite, the beautiful boy who gives her no end of heartache. Estranged from her sister, Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont. Until, after decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago. A graceful, supremely moving novel from one of our most beloved writers, Saints for All Occasions explores the fascinating, funny, and sometimes achingly sad ways a secret at the heart of one family both breaks them and binds them together.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780307959577
  • ISBN-10: 0307959570
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publish Date: May 2017
  • Page Count: 352
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.45 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Sagas
Books > Fiction > Contemporary Women

 
BookPage Reviews

Secrets of an Irish-American family

J. Courtney Sullivan’s latest novel opens with a brief but shocking scene, in which tragedy and family secrets tumble forth with urgency. It is 2009 and Nora Rafferty—the matriarch of an Irish-Catholic clan living in the Boston area—is on her way to the hospital. The emergency has something to do with her troubled oldest son, Patrick.

Once Sullivan (author of the bestsellers Maine, Commencement and The Engagements) has set this stage, Saints for All Occasions jumps back to 1950s Ireland, when Nora was just 21 and about to leave home with her more playful sister, 17-year-old Theresa. The pace of the book becomes more leisurely as Sullivan conveys the rhythms of family life in Ireland and the difficulties of the sisters’ voyage to the states, which may remind readers of Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn. Once the sisters are settled with family in Boston, the narrative shifts from the late 1950s, when Nora and Theresa both begin dating and make a fateful decision, to 2009, when Nora and her children must confront the far-reaching consequences of this decision.

Sullivan captures the nursed grievances and festering wounds of sibling rivalry, not to mention the finer touches—for better or worse—of Irish-Catholic life. The comprehensive portraits of the Rafferty children and their decidedly more bourgeois 21st-century problems may be a bit extensive for some readers. But the tensions simmering under the surface are raw, lending explosive power to the conflicts once they detonate. Particularly well done is Sullivan’s portrait of Theresa and her unlikely path to a life she could not have envisioned when she left Ireland.

Saints for All Occasions is a complex and honest portrait of a very American family—stumbling through the present because they never made sense of the past.

This article was originally published in the May 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews