A Novel

Book - 2011
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In her best-selling debut, Commencement , J. Courtney Sullivan explored the complicated and contradictory landscape of female friendship. Now, in her highly anticipated second novel, Sullivan takes us into even richer territory, introducing four unforgettable women who have nothing in common but the fact that, like it or not, they're family.

For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where children run in packs, showers are taken outdoors, and old Irish songs are sung around a piano. Their beachfront property, won on a barroom bet after the war, sits on three acres of sand and pine nestled between stretches of rocky coast, with one tree bearing the initials "A.H." At the cottage, built by Kelleher hands, cocktail hour follows morning mass, nosy grandchildren snoop in drawers, and decades-old grudges simmer beneath the surface.

As three generations of Kelleher women descend on the property one summer, each brings her own hopes and fears. Maggie is thirty-two and pregnant, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her imperfect boyfriend the news; Ann Marie, a Kelleher by marriage, is channeling her domestic frustration into a dollhouse obsession and an ill-advised crush; Kathleen, the black sheep, never wanted to set foot in the cottage again; and Alice, the matriarch at the center of it all, would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, long ago.

By turns wickedly funny and achingly sad, Maine unveils the sibling rivalry, alcoholism, social climbing, and Catholic guilt at the center of one family, along with the abiding, often irrational love that keeps them coming back, every summer, to Maine and to each other.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, c2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307595126
Branch Call Number: SULL
Characteristics: 388 p. ; 25 cm


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Aug 04, 2015

Avoided this book for so long because of the cover - really glad I finally read it, as it's much more of a family story about relationships and connections than that cover art would lead you to believe. A perfect summer read about personal history and identity through the lens of a family's struggles.

carolinevig5 Mar 30, 2015

I loved Sullivan's novel Commencement, but this didn't do much for me. Sullivan is great at character development, and I felt very involved in the characters' decisions, but they were so selfish and mean that I got annoyed by all of them, especially the matriarch, Alice. On a silly note, 'Maine' is not the most apt title. Yes ,the beach house is in Maine, but there is ZERO sense of place. It could have been anywhere USA as far as I'm concerned.

Jul 02, 2013

A great beach read, nice character study. Don't pick this one up if you're looking for action, but the character development and setting are great.

mmg2681 Jun 30, 2013

I enjoyed this book from each woman's perspective; however, there were way too many characters in this book. Between the matriarch and her family (brothers, sister, parents) and then her three kids and their families, it was difficult in the beginning to know who was who. By the end, I think I got them all down, and it turned out to be an OK book. I want to know...what happens next? (Isnt that the case with so many books?)

May 14, 2013

I did not meet one person in this book that I liked. Usually there is one. They are all narcissistic whiners. All are so self-centered it is a hard book to like.

Pollywantabook Feb 15, 2012

Very well written book, love to explore the lives of the women and their interaction with each other and the circumstances in which they have been placed. Having been to Maine, I can picture the surroundings, and the particular lifestyle of that area. GOOD READ !!

BrigidScott Jan 17, 2012

Surprisingly good.

kestober Dec 22, 2011

There were too many internal monologues for my taste - background character information that would have been better left in the author's research notebook. Could have been more.

tupelo Dec 20, 2011

Enjoyable book. Not your average "beach read" about families at their summer homes

annelibnyc Oct 13, 2011

Maine is not always a place in this book but a representation of what the family, in the story, aspires to. A dysfunctional Irish-Catholic family has a summer cottage, a property the patriarch won in a card game. the matriarch, Alice, now in her 80s, is a selfish, stuck-in-her-ways, old woman who has no appreciation for her extended family and clearly her family feels the same way about her. For pretty much all of them, the only thing in the family they really love is the their beach house in Maine which represents status, freedom and escape. The story of the family and it's dysfunction is told through several generations of the family including: Alice, her daughter Kathleen, her daughter-in-law Ann Marie and her granddaughter Maggie. This is not a literary tour de force but there is sense of tragedy, angst and real family tension that leaves the reader more than little uncomfortable in spots. I kept thinking of similar people in my own family. in the end, i liked this book but I didn't love it. I would think it would make a good book club selection - if only because at the end I know that, like me, you will be wanting to discuss the book with somebody!

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