Thursday, August 9, 2012

Maine by Courtnay Sullivan

About the Book

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 at night. 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.


What happens when you send three generations of women to a family house in Maine? 

Alice, an eighty something grandmother and mother; Maggie, the youngest, has just discovered she is pregnant; Kathleen, Alice’s daughter and Maggie’s mother, is the black sheep of the family and hops on a plane when she discovers Maggie is pregnant; and Anne Marie, Alice’s daughter-in-law and mother in her own right stuck in a marriage that she doesn’t want. You mix this together with lies, skeletons and a family house (that was won in a bet during the war) that web the reader through a very interesting plot.

The story of the Kelleher family is more than your average story of overcoming secrets. Sullivan gives her characters a sense of realism in the face of adversity. These four women have always had tricky relationships with each other and when reunited at the family holiday house in Maine (a cottage with 3 acres of beachfront expanding before it Рstop swooning!) they are all forced, to put it as a clich̩ as I can, to face their demons.

Sullivan gives the reader a look into each of these compelling characters by presenting them rotating perspectives.

Maine isn’t written to be the book that has you settled in it immediately, in fact, I found this book a tad frustrating in the beginning, and it seemed tedious and drawn-out. But (and this is a HUGE BIG BUT THAT DOES NOT LIE) once Sullivan has all her characters in one place the plot redeems itself and you find yourself drawn to each character.

A book not to be confused as a beach read or some Chick Lit. It’s a Jodi Picoult on steroids; a voice that sings to the deepest part of a woman’s heart, this book will grip you by the throat and scream the truth into your face.

Worth a spot on a bookshelf across the world!


About the Author

J. Courtney Sullivan is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Commencement and Maine. Maine was named a Best Book of the Year by Time magazine, and a Washington Post Notable Book for 2011. Courtney’s writing has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, New York magazine, Elle, Glamour, Allure, Men’s Vogue, and the New York Observer, among others. She is a contributor to the essay anthology The Secret Currency of Love and co-editor of Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Find the Author


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