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Dear James: A Novel

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What Faulkner did for his imaginary Yoknapatawpha County, Jon Hassler has done for a place called Staggerford. Wholly believable and fully peopled, often snowbound and teeming with pent-up life, his small Minnesota town and its inhabitants are among Hassler's most popular fictional creations. In this warm, uplifting, wryly humorous novel, the town's moral conscience, Miss Agatha McGee, takes the entire population on an adventure of truthfulness, charity, and forgiveness that no Staggerfordian - and no reader - ...
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Overview

What Faulkner did for his imaginary Yoknapatawpha County, Jon Hassler has done for a place called Staggerford. Wholly believable and fully peopled, often snowbound and teeming with pent-up life, his small Minnesota town and its inhabitants are among Hassler's most popular fictional creations. In this warm, uplifting, wryly humorous novel, the town's moral conscience, Miss Agatha McGee, takes the entire population on an adventure of truthfulness, charity, and forgiveness that no Staggerfordian - and no reader - will soon forget. Dear James begins with the closing of St. Isidore's Elementary. During her entire teaching career, this school has been the linchpin of Agatha's existence, and now she is thrown back on her friends to sustain her. She finds her friends wanting. Lillian Kite, her kind, faithful neighbor, can't provide her with the intellectual stimulation she craves. Frederick Lopat, her former student, can't piece together the parts of himself that were shattered in Vietnam. Sylvester Juba, wealthy and retired, repels Agatha by repeatedly proposing marriage; and his daughter, Sister Judith, espouses the sort of New Age theology that Agatha cannot abide. And there's Lillian's envious daughter Imogene Kite, whose ambition is to betray Agatha and destroy her reputation. And so, fleeing from her unhappiness at home, Agatha sets off on a pilgrimage to Italy, unaware that her old soulmate and nemesis, Father James O'Hannon of County Kildare, Ireland, is waiting there to meet her. Basking in the golden light of Assisi, she and James begin to rebuild their friendship - indeed, their love - while back home, in Staggerford and Northern Ireland, storm clouds are gathering that will alter both their lives. Life-affirming and inspiring, Dear James portrays two kindred spirits struggling to overcome their late-life crises, while strengthening the bond that unites them. And everyone who studies this portrait - including the reader - is granted insight into the mysterie
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this memorable installment in the Staggerford saga, the Minnesota town is thrown into disarray by an eccentric elderly resident. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Hassler returns to his fictional Minnesota town of Staggerford for a quiet story that centers on the themes of loss and spiritual renewal. He populates this new novel with a number of characters who first appeared in his debut novel, Staggerford ( LJ 7/77). Agatha McGee, a Catholic school teacher, faces a number of crises in her 70th year. She must confront her own forced retirement, the realization that her long-time Irish pen pal (the James of the title, for whom she was nurturing more than Platonic feelings) is a priest, and the fact that the world still harbors a host of evils--from the Irish Troubles, to terrorism, to the petty jealousies that ruin lives in a small town. Hassler's usual facility with language is not as powerful as in earlier works, but his characters can still intrigue. This is a work that resonates best in context with the earlier works. Recommended for large fiction collections and collections of regional fiction. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/93.-- Martin R. Kalfatovic, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345377074
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/13/1993
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 438

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