Saturday, August 27, 2011

Maine; J. Courtney Sullivan

Title: Maine
Author:  J. Courtney Sullivan
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Random House Audio
Edition: audio book and ARC
Reader: Ann Marie Lee (very good)
Source: Library and publisher
Date Completed: 8/23/2011 
Setting: Maine
Rating: 4.5/5
Recommend: yes

As I'm sure you guessed, Maine, is the setting for J. Courtney Sullivan's latest book. Once a litle beach cottage, but now a  spectacular beach front home. The land was won by Daniel, the late husband of the novel's matriarch, Alice Kelliher, back in the 1940's.  Over a 60 year period the family shared both happy and sad times together at the beach house. However, after too many summers filled with family friction, the family started booking separate times for each to enjoy the summer home.

The story follows three generations of strong-willed women.  Alice, now 83, is packing up boxes at the summer home, with very specific plans in mind. Alice lives in Massachusetts most of the year. Her daughter Kathleen, lives in California. She's a worm farmer (yes that's right), and she moved clear across the country in the hopes of having fewer run-ins with her mother Alice.  There is also Maggie, daughter of Kathleen, granddaughter of Alice. She's a writer from New York.  The other woman is Anne-Marie, daughter-in-law of Alice, who is married to Alice's son Patrick.

Alice has a blunt and abrasive personality -- always calling things as she sees it. She's has some issues and secrets of her own, that she isn't anxious for her family to find out about.  But, Alice isn't the only one with issues, and secrets.  Kathleen is a former alcoholic, who doesn't get along with her sister-in-law Anne Marie.  Kathleen's daughter, Maggie is also harboring a secrets.  Anne-Marie is the family perfectionist, obsessed with everything about doll houses. She also is the family peace keeper, or at least tries to be. She tries to do everything well, but yet, she harbors secrets of her own.

This was a  very good audio book, with the great reader.  The characters were everyday people, with all their imperfections, each carrying a decent share of emotional baggage. Their issues were real as well: alcoholism, single parenthood, divorce, widowhood, loneliness, dating issues and even Catholic guilt.  The women in this book brought out the best and the worst in each other.  The chapters alternate between the perspectives of each woman, covering memories from as far back as 60 years to the present -- all over the course of one single summer.

This is a great book to read on the beach or one to pack in your suitcase for a warm-weather vacation.  I think many women will enjoy this one.

19 comments:

  1. This is one of my book clubs' picks for September, so I'll be reading it soon. You've made me wish I'd bought the audio version instead of the print.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I read something with a similar theme by Hildebrand. The title does not come back to me but it had a similar theme! going back to a holiday home with a lot of family memories and then moving forward.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This sounds like a book I'd like. Seems like I've been doing more listening than actual reading this summer.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I definitely want to read this one - Maine and families - gets no better than that. Glad you enjoyed the book, Diane.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That doesn't sound too bad at all!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have heard others say that this was a difficult book due to the unlikeableness of the characters, but I have to admit that it sounds fascinating to me, and I really want to read it. I am glad that it was such a meaty and enjoyable read for you!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm glad you liked it. I've got this one on my list and I was almost afraid to read your review in case you didn't like it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book. I've had my eye on it since it came out. I'd hoped to see/here the author at a reading here in Brooklyn but I wasn't up for it when the night came around which was a huge disappoinment...but I'm still looking forward to reading Maine or maybe listening to it!
    Great review, Diane!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am glad you liked this one! I didn't enjoy Commencement as much as I expected, but I found this one at a used for sale for a couple of bucks so I grabbed it!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sounds good. I am always looking for a good read. Or a good listen to motivate me to get out and walk!
    Thanks for the comment...I enjoy my funny grandkids!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I admit it .. I went straight to your star rating on this one - lots of buzz, and it looks as though it would be a great read for me! Already have it on my list!

    ReplyDelete
  12. So glad you enjoyed it...one of my favorites of 2011!

    ReplyDelete
  13. This was one of my summer reads and I really enjoyed it. Zibilee's right that the characters can be unlikeable, but it's discovering the reasons underneath all the anger and guilt that make it so interesting. Good reminder that you never really know what's going on inside someone's head so don't jump to conclusions.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This has been on my list for a while. I'm hoping there is a good feeling for the setting in it, but I'm also looking forward to the relationships between the women.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This book is the summer read I'm most looking forward to (the line at the library is a mile long, but soon it will be my turn!) I'm glad to see you enjoyed it so much. I listened to Commencement on audio and somewhat liked it, but I still think I missed some things.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This has been v hot locally (being so close to Maine) so I've kind of ignored it but now I'm vaguely curious! I might have to give this a try!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This sounds like a perfect vacation book!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I heard the author speak and do a reading from the novel at the beginning of the summer and the story definitely grabbed me - it sounds very relateable - I love novels centered around family dramas.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am glad to hear that you liked this book and that it is good in audio format. I have a copy from the library but haven't been able to read it yet. I may get the audio if I can't read it in time before it's due. I love Maine and the premise of this book sounds like one I would enjoy.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thank again for visiting.