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Maine: A Novel by J. Courtney Sullivan
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Maine: A Novel

by J. Courtney Sullivan

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8535710,511 (3.43)40
  1. 00
    Wish You Were Here by Stewart O'Nan (aunthez)
    aunthez: Strong family dynamics and everyone puts in their two cents when the matriarch prepares to sell the family's long-time vacation home.
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» See also 40 mentions

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I really enjoyed this book, which centered on the relationships between three generations of women in a Boston Irish Catholic family. For the most part the characters rang true, several of them feeling familiar to this nice Jewish girl from the Midwest. The cover of this book makes it look like chick-lit, and it is not that at all. If I had just seen the cover I would likely have skipped over this book. Luckily I read the New York Times book review before seeing this on the shelf. The misleading cover, I think, accounts for many of the negative reviews. Many reviewers seemed to want nice characters and neat resolution rather than complex characters, and messiness. This is more Jonathan Franzen than Marian Keyes. If that appeals to you, I recommend this book unreservedly. I took off a star for a rushed ending, and for one primary character I thought was underwritten.

One note, I read this one and listened to the audio in the car, and absolutely recommend the audiobook. So often bad readers ruin books, but this reader was really excellent, and brought life to all the characters. ( )
  Narshkite | Jun 2, 2015 |
Great beach read ( )
  INorris | Apr 20, 2015 |
fter reading all the glowing reviews of Maine when it first came out a couple of years ago, I finally got around to reading (listening to) it. I’m so glad I did. Sullivan shows herself to be an expert at character development. The characters are richly and carefully written. Things that happened to Alice as a girl have a major impact on her life as a mother and grandmother and we are shown clearly how she came to be the person she is now, in her 80s. Other characters are written the same way.

I liked how Sullivan showed how differently people interpret other’s actions. Someone thinks that someone else prefers to eat alone and therefore doesn’t invite them to dinner while the uninvited person wonders why she was snubbed. Sullivan is able to weave these kinds of misunderstandings in expertly, and sometimes unexpectedly.

Another thing I liked was that historical events were included and accurately described. I can’t say too much about that without giving up a major plot point.

This book was real life through and through. Although I’m usually a fan of tidy endings, I loved how in this case, some things were left hanging. Because in real life, not everything wraps up at the same time.

Maine is definitely a must read.

Note on the audio book: I found the narration pleasant and the different characters each had their own distinct voice. The only concern that I had was that the narrator used a Boston accent for Alice’s dialogue. I checked with a friend who has a print copy and Alice’s accent is not written phonetically in the book. In the audio I found it distracting because I didn’t think the narrator’s accent was that great. I also wondered why Alice had the accent but her children, who had been born and raised in Boston did not. ( )
  mcelhra | Nov 6, 2014 |
Although I really love the way Sullivan writes, she did it again---the ending leaves me with question marks---wanting more and yet a little confused with what she meant with the ending provided. The characters were beautifully spelled out---I felt as though I could picture and understand each of them with their conflicting points of view. I listened to all three of Sullivan's books, but not in order----Maine being the last of the three. I would love a sequel, as someone else has already mentioned. ( )
  nyiper | Jan 17, 2014 |
The state of Maine’s license-plate motto is “Vacationland,” and for many New Englanders, its southern coast defines the concept of summer: cottages near small beach towns, long days of family gatherings for barbecues and water play, picnics and the freshest berries and seafood. Three generations of the Kelleher family have spent their summers this way, at their property in Cape Neddick, for sixty years. However, the family dynamics have shifted since patriarch Daniel died a decade ago, and his widow Alice is making plans for the home he left her. So are her son Patrick and his wife Ann Marie. Meanwhile, her daughter Kathleen has made a new life on the West Coast and hasn’t come back to Maine since her father died, although Kathleen’s daughter Maggie finds a sense of home there.

While the central action in Maine occurs over several weeks in early summer, the backstories of these characters are explored at length, and by shifting focus with each chapter between the perspectives of Alice, Ann Marie, Kathleen, and Maggie, Sullivan strengthens her characterizations with the women’s views of one another. It’s a device that rounds them out and helps render each of them more sympathetic, and since none of them really comes across as terribly likable on her own merits, I thought it added depth, interest, and a distinct sense of realism.

READ MORE: http://www.3rsblog.com/2013/06/book-talk-maine-by-j-courtney-sullivan.html ( )
  Florinda | Jan 3, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
Everyone has dark secrets. It’s why God invented confession and booze, two balms frequently employed in Sullivan’s well-wrought sophomore effort.
added by Shortride | editKirkus Reviews (Apr 15, 2011)
 
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Epigraph
Alas, a mother is never afraid, of speaking angrily to any child, since love, she knows, is justified of love.  --Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh
Just do everything we didn't do and you will be perfectly safe.  --a letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald to his daughter, Frances
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For Trish
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Alice decided to take a break from packing.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Four women from the Kelleher family gather at the family beach home in Maine, each hoping to find a new outlook on life as three generations help one another deal with sibling rivalry, alcoholism, social climbing, and good old fashioned Catholic guilt.
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Three generations of women converge on the family beach house in this wickedly funny, emotionally resonant story of love and dysfunction.

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