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
Rating: 4.5/5Recommend: 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.