Sunday 21 October 2012


Courtney Sullivan's fabulous novel evokes the pine-scented, sea-salted air of Maine as four generations of the Irish-American Kelleher family spend every summer in the beach house originally won in a fifty-dollar bet.

The story has a female focus and shifts in perspective from Alice the matriarch, her bitter daughter Kathleen, 'perfect' daughter-in-law Anne Marie and adorable grand-daughter, 32-year old Maggie who is pregnant by her bad boy boyfriend, Gabe and determined to keep the baby and maintain her writing career.  There are wonderful descriptions of Brooklyn where Maggie lives with its 'streets of perfect brownstones' and 'the Sunday Farmer's market where she and Gabe had so often gone in early autumn to buy fresh vegetables and apple crisp and dahlias for the fire escape.'

As with all families there are tensions and bitterness and old scores to settle but Sullivan skillfully brings all the stories together at the beach house in Maine.  This book was heavily marketed as a beach read during the summer but I think it somehow suits the autumn season better.

Now that I'm back in this century I'm reading and very much enjoying Anne Tyler's first novel If Morning Ever Comes, I've got Ann Patchett's Truth and Beauty on order and according to Barbara Kingsolver's website there is a new novel out in November.  Spoilt for choice!