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Maine : a novel
J. Courtney Sullivan
Adult Fiction SULLIVA

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Sullivan follows debut Commencement with a summer spritzer that's equal parts family drama, white wine, and Hail Marys. The story follows the struggles of three generations of Kelleher women: drunken Alice, the mass-going matriarch; her rebel daughter, Kathleen, a Sonoma County farmer; Kathleen's sister-in-law, the dollhouse aficionado Ann Marie; and Kathleen's daughter, Maggie, an aspiring writer. Rather than allowing the characters to grow or the plot to thicken, the novel's conflict derives almost entirely from the airing (or not) of various grievances (Alice believes herself responsible for her sister's death; Maggie is pregnant, single, and terrified; Kathleen is still the bitter person she was before she sobered up; Ann Marie has a martyr complex). The Kelleher summer home on the Maine coast is the putative center around which the drama revolves, yet it is the women's common love for Daniel, the patriarch rendered faultless in death, who does the most to bring the women together. The book's tension is watered down at best, like a sun-warmed cocktail: mildly effective, but disappointing. When conflict finally does break the surface, the exhilaration is visceral but short-lived. Late in the story, Kathleen tells Maggie, "It's going to be okay," to which she responds, "It has to be." Unfortunately, the reader never gets much chance to worry otherwise. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Beautiful, fractious, and 83 years old, Alice Kelleher rules her children-especially her daughter, Kathleen, and her daughter-in-law, Anne Marie-with her cruel and callous speech. Granddaughter Maggie fares a little better, largely owing to her desperate need to serve as peacemaker. At the heart of this compelling novel of three generations of women emotionally stunted by fate and willful stubbornness is the family vacation property in Cape Neddick, ME, where the Kellehers have convened for six decades. Thirty-two-year-old Maggie is single, newly pregnant, and abandoned. Her mother, the abrasively immature at sixtyish Kathleen, leaves her California "worm poop" farm and lovely partner, Arlo, to get Maggie to come to her senses regarding this pregnancy. As for Anne Marie, she struggles to maintain the outward appearance of the saintly martyr watching over Alice, who could slay an elephant with her narcissism. VERDICT In her second novel (after Commencement), Sullivan brilliantly lays out the case for the nearly futile task of these three generations of badly damaged Irish Catholic women seeking acceptance from one another while failing badly at self-acceptance. [See Prepub Alert, 11/29/10.]-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Maggie Kelleher
Age: 32
Kathleen's daughter; waiting for the perfect time to tell her boyfriend she is pregnant; spending the summer at her family's cottage.

Ann Marie Kelleher
Alice's daughter-in-law; spending the summer at the family's cottage; obsessed with doll-houses; has a secret crush.

Kathleen Kelleher
Alice's daughter; black sheep of the family; finds herself at her family's summer cottage after she swor she would never set foot in it again.

Alice Kelleher
Believes herself responsible for the death of her sister years ago.

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