Saints for all Occasions
By J. Courtney Sullivan
A sweeping, unforgettable novel from The New York Times best-selling author of Maine, about the hope, sacrifice, and love between two sisters and the secret that drives them apart.
Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Nora is the responsible sister; she's shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn't sure that she loves. Theresa is gregarious; she is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls on Dudley Street. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan - a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand.
Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family with four grown children: John, a successful, if opportunistic, political consultant; Bridget, privately preparing to have a baby with her girlfriend; Brian, at loose ends after a failed baseball career; and Patrick, Nora's favorite, the beautiful boy who gives her no end of heartache. Estranged from her sister and cut off from the world, Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont. Until, after decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago.
A supremely moving novel, Saints for All Occasions explores the fascinating, funny, and sometimes achingly sad ways a secret at the heart of one family both breaks them and binds them together.
J. COURTNEY SULLIVAN is the New York Times best-selling author of the novels The Engagements, Maine, and Commencement. Maine was named a 2011 Time magazine Best Book of the Year and a Washington Post Notable Book. The Engagements was one of People Magazine's Top Ten Books of 2013 and an Irish Times Best Book of the Year, and has been translated into seventeen languages. She has contributed to The New York Times Book Review, the Chicago Tribune, New York magazine, Elle, Glamour, Allure, Real Simple, and O: The Oprah Magazine, among many other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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- Publication date:
01 Mar 2018
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This year's best book about family . . . Elegant . . . Captivating . . . Deft and insightful . . . A quiet masterpiece . . . impressive. Saints for All Occasions is so unassuming that its artistry looks practically invisible. In a simple style that never commits a flutter of extravagance, Sullivan draws us into the lives of the Raffertys, and in the rare miracle of fiction makes us care about them like they were our own family — Ron Charles, Washington Post
Carefully plotted . . . Sullivan succeeds in creating a believably complicated, clannish Irish-American family . . . Engrossing — New York Times
Moving . . . Eloquently testifies to the durability of the fabric of family . . . Touched with . . . warmth, kindness and gentle wisdom — Wall Street Journal
A blockbuster . . . An engrossing family drama with feisty humor and transformative tough love — Elle magazine
An engrossing family drama . . . Sullivan's profound understanding of her characters and the Irish-Catholic culture that defines them illuminates every scene — People magazine
A breathtaking literary ode to life, change, and the unbreakable bonds of family — Redbook
Fabulous and smart — Emma Straub, New York Times
With tenderness and a knack for depicting Irish grandmothers that anybody who has one will appreciate, Sullivan celebrates ordinary people doing their best to live saintly lives — Time
I hope to read another novel as strong and wise and beautiful and heartbreaking as J. Courtney Sullivan's Saints for All Occasions this year, but I'm not sure I will — Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls
A fascinating, riveting read — Sarra Manning, Red
Depression over the state of the world kept me from reading for a few weeks towards the end of last year, but I started again with Saints for All Occasions, devoured it over a weekend and found my reading mojo again — Jane Green, New York Times
This graceful and compelling family saga is beautifully drawn and full of grief, regret and wonderful period detail. At times Saints for all Occasions is achingly sad but it is always completely absorbing — The People
Skilfully written, involving read — Woman & Home
Beautifully drawn, with wonderful period detail. A compelling family saga, full of grief and regret, it's always absorbing — Sunday Mirror
A fabulous read — Hello!
In the spirit of Colm Toibin's novels comes Saints for All Occasions . . . A bittersweet story, but a brilliant one — The Lady
Reminiscent of both Colm Toibin's Brooklyn and Matthew Thomas' We Are Not Ourselves, this enveloping novel follows a fraught Irish family through unimaginable trials. It introduces its two main characters as young sisters ready to emigrate from Ireland to America and follows them through the rest of their lives. All of Sullivan's characters leap off the page. You don't read this book; you breathe it — Independent