A Season in Purgatory

A Season in Purgatory

4.8 20
by Dominick Dunne

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They were the family with everything. Money. Influence. Glamour. Power. The power to halt a police investigation in its tracks. The power to spin a story, concoct a lie, and believe it was the truth. The power to murder without guilt, without shame, and without ever paying the price. America's royalty, they called the Bradleys. But an outsider refuses to play his part


They were the family with everything. Money. Influence. Glamour. Power. The power to halt a police investigation in its tracks. The power to spin a story, concoct a lie, and believe it was the truth. The power to murder without guilt, without shame, and without ever paying the price. America's royalty, they called the Bradleys. But an outsider refuses to play his part. And now, the day of reckoning has arrived. . . .

From the Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Dunne's juicy tale of an aristocratic family's secret complicity in a grisly murder was a four-week PW bestseller. (July)
School Library Journal
YA-The Bradleys are a large, rich, powerful, Irish-Catholic family, headed by a ruthless patriarch who is bent on having his favorite son, Constant, become president. Mrs. Bradley is a religious, designer-clad mother who shuts her eyes to her husband's numerous affairs. Harrison Burns is Constant's poor but bright friend. They attend the same exclusive prep school. One night, Constant beats a young girl to death, and Harrison helps him cover it up. Twenty-two years later, he can't bear the guilt of his complicity in the crime and decides to confess. Can he bring the Bradley dynasty down with him? Dunne, who has previously paralleled real life in The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (Crown, 1985), has written a real page-turner that looks into the lives of a wealthy, morally corrupt American family. It's almost like reading People magazine.-Diana C. Hirsch, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, MD
Brad Hooper
A decently effective melodrama relying on a plot device quite similar to the classic British novel by Evelyn Waugh, "Brideshead Revisited" (1936). Harrison Burns is a scholarship student at a New England prep school for privileged boys from rich Catholic families. He becomes buddies with Constant Bradley and finds himself falling in with Constant's family; his attraction to Constant, his self-negation in the face of Constant's more overwhelming personality, eventually spells tragedy as Constant embroils Harrison in a deadly situation. Years later, after Harrison has had an intimate relationship with Constant's sister, he must finally come clean of the secret he's held for too long. Dunne's a popular writer, and this one has compelling moments.
Kirkus Reviews
It's Kennedy-bashing time again, as rich-and-venal chronicler Dunne (An Inconvenient Woman, etc.) drags writer-hero Harrison Burns through 20 years of guilt for having helped our most prominent Irish Catholic family cover up a sex murder by its fair-haired scion. After a brief peek ahead—naughty talk, dirty pictures, and several murders are all mentioned in the first four pages—it's 1972, and Harrison is mysteriously infatuated with prep-school chum Constant Bradley, a plausible cipher who can get aroused only when he's beating up his dates. When Constant's unwanted attentions to Winifred Utley leave her dead on the family estate, Harrison reluctantly helps cover up his guilt, allowing himself to be bought off ("My soul was lost, but my future was bought and paid for") by Constant's wealthy, ruthless father Gerald (no slouch at covering up his own sex crimes) with the connivance of Constant's slimy, crippled brother Jerry. (Hovering piously on the fringes: Constant's impossibly devout mother Grace, his successful brothers Desmond and Sandro, and his sisters Maureen and Mary Pat, who never mention their retarded, institutionalized sister Agnes.) Then it's 1989, and Harrison, visiting a Maine nursing home to cover one of his true-crime expos‚s, runs into Constant's sister Kitt, visiting crazy Agnes, immediately starts a torrid affair with Kitt, and allows himself to be lured back into the Bradley orbit by the offer to ghostwrite a saccharine family bio to launch Constant's gubernatorial bid. When old man Bradley, trying to take uncooperative Harrison out of the picture for good, overreaches himself, Harrison decides to unload his secret and go after Constant. So in 1993,Harrison looks back over the long-delayed trial—and its inevitable outcome. Dunne may see himself as another F. Scott Fitzgerald, chronicling the moral corruption of the well-to-do (references to Gatsby passim). But the main pleasures here involve nothing more moving than watching a wily old pro set up characters with as much individuality as ninepins preparatory to bowling them down. (Literary Guild Selection for Summer)

From the Publisher
"Highly entertaining."—Entertainment Weekly
"Mesmerizing."—New York Times

"Stunning."—Liz Smith
"Compelling."—New York Daily News
"Potent characterization and deftly crafted plotting."—Publishers Weekly

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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Random House
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2 MB

Meet the Author

Dominick Dunne is an internationally acclaimed journalist and the bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction, including Another City, Not My Own; An Inconvenient Woman; The Two Mrs. Grenvilles; People Like Us; and The Mansions of Limbo.

From the Paperback edition.

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Season in Purgatory 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the very begninning this book had me hooked. Dunne has a fabulous way of weaving words so the characters, as well as the reader, are intertwined. The Catholic undertones, though limited, speak volumes throughout the book. Even the title, to those who are familiar with purgatory as a place of cleansing onesself, has a deeper meaning when taken into context with the book. The characters are so well developed I kept asking myself 'what happened to Harrison? Constant? Mrs. Utley?' I felt for Harrison, a victim of time, place and situation who made a decision to free his own soul from his own purgatory. You won't want to put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best novel that Dunne has ever written, it is wonderful in so many ways. I couldn't put it down! It was so good that I make all of my friend's read it as well and no one has ever been disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a gripping book that you won't put down. The only bad part, is parting with the characters at the end. You won't want to read 'just another page', you'll want to read it all!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Only Dunne could write a loathesome character in such a way that I was actually sad when he died! Awesome book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have seen this movie on 'Lifetime'and read the book on vacation last week. in 2 days...I could not put it down, and was very sorry to see it end.I was really captivated by Harrison Burns, the actor that played him in the movie was just outstanding and very good looking as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. I could not put it down and it saddened me when I reached the last page. You find yourself wanting to follow the life of this man until the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't read much; however, I saw the TV movie and wanted to read A Season in Purgatory. I was working and going to school full time when I read this 400+ page book in a week. The characters and story line keep you interested and always wanting to know more. You get attached to the characters. Harrison's tug of war with his morals and the Bradleys' power/money makes you believe there is reality to this story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of DD best its good
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a book that has come across my mind often even though I read it over 2 years ago. You simply could not feel anything except a fierce eagerness that justice be served and disappointment that money can most times prevent that from happening. Sad but true book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!! If you like books about people with huge amounts of money, than you will love this book. This book was great because it showed rich people as having huge character flaws such as greediness. I highly recommend this book if you like books that talk about Kennedyesque power. Pick up this book
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dominick Dunne does an excellent job in his fictional portrayl of a wealthy family. He brings his characters to life. One can only imagine how easy it is for money to get people out of taking responisibilty for the violent crimes they committ.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down! If you are interested in Kennedy-esque glamour and intrigue, you should absolutely read this novel! The characters and story are fascinating. This was a book that has stayed with me, even though I first read it two years ago. I was even more compelled when I learned that this book is based on the currently sensational Martha Moxley case. I hope her killer is brought to justice as a result of this novel. Dominick Dunne is an incredible author!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel captivated me from the first page with it's obvious parallels to the Kennedy's. The unbelievable and incredibly affluent lives the family led in this book kept my attention for a long time, and I could barely put the book down. The theme of whether or not justice will prevail regarding such a rich and powerful family is one that is easy to find in present day society. I highly recommend this book for good summer reading!