Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
Amazon.com Book Description:
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. 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.
My Book Review:
From the cover and description of this book you would think that it would be a fun and lighthearted summer read, it is anything but that! This is a story about three generations of women from the Boston Irish Catholic Kelleher family, who go to the family's summer beach retreat in Maine immersed in their own problems and secrets only to have their generations of family dysfunction towards each other added on top of it. Told from the perspective of each of the four Kelleher women, the author does a good job of telling the individual story of each of the women and how their lives intertwine with each other, however she does not bring them all together in Maine until three quarters of the way into the story which is a shame. I thought that their interaction with each other would have been carried throughout the story as the book description claimed, and I was very disappointed that it wasn't this way. While I can appreciate the family dynamic of the Irish Catholic family, for I come from one of those, and the crazy dysfunction that goes along with it, I thought that the author made the characters so dark and negative, and there was very little mention of any real family warmth shared in prior years at the Maine property. Once the author brings the women together in Maine, one would think that the story would have described how they confronted and dealt with their issues, but that was not the case either. While at the end of the story the author does give closure to 3 of the 4 women, the way she does not give a clear closure to Alice's story leaves the readers shaking their heads and saying "huh?" It is unfortunate that the story ends so abruptly, while I generally did like the story, it did leave me unfulfilled.
RATING: 3 STARS ***