DN Songs in Ordinary Times

DN Songs in Ordinary Times

by Mary McGarry Morris
     
 

Songs in Ordinary Time is set in the summer of 1960 - the last of quiet times and America's innocence. It centers on Marie Fermoyle, a strong but vulnerable woman whose loneliness and ambition for her children make her easy prey for the dangerous con man Omar Duvall. Marie's children are Alice, seventeen - involved with a troubled young priest; Norm, sixteen -…  See more details below

Overview

Songs in Ordinary Time is set in the summer of 1960 - the last of quiet times and America's innocence. It centers on Marie Fermoyle, a strong but vulnerable woman whose loneliness and ambition for her children make her easy prey for the dangerous con man Omar Duvall. Marie's children are Alice, seventeen - involved with a troubled young priest; Norm, sixteen - hotheaded and idealistic; and Benjy, twelve - isolated and misunderstood, and so desperate for his mother's happiness that he hides the deadly truth only he knows about Duvall. Among a fascinating cast of characters we meet the children's alcoholic father, Sam Fermoyle, now living with his senile mother and embittered sister; Sam's meek brother-in-law, who makes anonymous "love" calls from the bathroom of his ailing appliance store; and the Klubock family, who - in complete contrast to the Fermoyles - live an orderly life in the perfect house next door.

An Oprah Winfrey Book Club pick.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As she proved in her first novel, Vanished, and in the equally compelling A Dangerous Woman, Morris can depict society's outsiders-people with bleak presents and no futures-with rare understanding and compassion. Here, she portrays an entire community, a small town in Vermont during the summer of 1960, and then focuses on one family, the Fermoyles. With no support from her alcoholic ex-husband Sam, Marie Fermoyle has struggled for eight years to raise her three children. She is sharp-tongued, bitter, resentful and driven nearly to distraction by unending money worries and her own shame at being a poor divorce in a staunchly Catholic town. The arrival of mysterious Omar Duvall with his con man's spiel of sudden riches brings Marie hope that she can change her dead-end existence. Among the 30 or so characters, there are no happy people: in fact, at first, one thinks this will be just an unbroken litany of sour, wasted lives, people mired in frustration and desperation, hiding tawdry secrets. But, although the exposition is long and leisurely, one is soon caught in the web of Morris's narrative, particularly in Marie's manipulation by Duvall, who sponges off the family while appearing to offer Marie the love she desperately craves. Meanwhile, her children-teenaged Alice and Norm, and fearful 12-year-old Benjy-are out-matched by the oily Omar, and they undergo their own torments as adolescents shamed by their parents and miserably conscious of their poverty. Innocent Benjy holds a secret so terrible he doesn't even fathom it until it is almost too late to avert tragedy. Morris weaves the taut strands of her plot with remarkable skill, revealing how people with no financial security and few mental resources are controlled by others more feral and more dangerous. Throughout, she maintains the suspense triggered by a dead body in the woods, and she pries open a Pandora's box of secrets, including double lives and the hypocrisy that masks sin behind piety. This novel becomes more powerful as one reads, building to a heartstopping denouement, yet remaining strictly observant of the minutiae of daily life that give the book its honesty and pathos.
Library Journal
Morris has had critical success with novels like A Dangerous Woman (LJ 11/15/90), which was made into a movie starring Debra Winger. But according to her publicist, this new work-which features an Irish American woman vulnerable to the blandishments of a con man-has a "commercial edge."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780147712257
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
06/18/1997
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Mary McGarry Morris is the author of four highly acclaimed novels. Entertainment Weekly included her latest, Fiona Range, on its list of the best books of 2000. Vanished (1998) was nominated for both the National Book Award and the Pen/Faulkner Award. A Dangerous Woman (1991) was made into a feature film starring Debra Winger in 1993. Songs In Ordinary Time, was the 1997 Oprah Book Club Selection, and is available from Brilliance Audio.

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