Selling the Lite of Heaven

Selling the Lite of Heaven

by Suzanne Strempek Shea

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Shea's first novel is a delightful foray into the quirks and quibbles of the Polish-Catholic town of Chicopee, Mass. The unnamed narrator, ingenuous yet unflappable, is the 32-year-old daughter of immigrants who have slathered her in Vicks and mild exasperation. Still living under her parents' roof, she is abandoned by her fiance, Eddie Balicki, after, shortly before the wedding, he asks a statue of the Blessed Virgin if he should become a priest and, as Eddie puts it, `` `a minute later, she nods. Twice . . . . It was a miracle.' '' But never mind: Eddie, ``the kind of person who might straighten his sock drawer before company comes,'' was as a boy the sort of kid who played Holy Communion with Necco wafers. So the heroine returns candle snuffers and Corning Ware, cancels caterer and band and places an ad in the Penny Saver for her 2.5-karat, pear-shaped perfect diamond. Over the next 17 months, the pursuit of the right buyer fills out her days of knitting and living vicariously through the images she views while working as a film processor at Fast Foto. More than 60 prospective buyers respond to the ad, including the once-jilted Maria Dusza, who'll ``be back when you're ready,'' and Randy, the Quick Stop clerk whose dreams of an old-fashioned store embarrass his intended but who keeps checking on the ring. When the ring is stolen, the narrator comes to terms with what she wants to do and executes her plan in a particularly joyous conclusion. Rich, funny and gentle, this debut is one of those read-in-one-sitting novels that could be a real sleeper. (June)
Library Journal
Our thirtysomething heroine, who is never named, lives in western Massachusetts with her devout Polish Catholic family. Promising not to date until she is 18, she at last meets Eddie Balicki, every woman's dream. After dating for some months, they become engaged, and she gets a large, perfect diamond called The Lite of Heaven. Shortly before the wedding, Eddie announces that it is his fate to be a priest and breaks the engagement. He tells her to keep the ring, and the heartbroken young woman advertises it for sale in the Pennysaver. For over a year, she interviews prospective buyers at home while serving them homemade cookies. The people who come to look are so well drawn that you can see and smell them. Eventually, you also learn to know this society of first-and second-generation Polish Catholics. There is humor and pathos in first novelist Shea's poignant story of a woman jilted for God, a woman who desperately wants to keep her faith and family but needs to become her own woman. Highly recommended.-Barbara Maslekoff, Ohioana Lib., Columbus

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Washington Square Press
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0.65(w) x 5.50(h) x 8.50(d)

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Meet the Author

Suzanne Strempek Shea, winner of the 2000 New England Book Award for Fiction, is the author of the novels Selling the Lite of Heaven; Hoopi Shoopi Donna; Lily of the Valley; and Around Again; and the memoirs Songs from a Lead-Lined Room: Notes — High and Low — From My Journey Through Breast Cancer and Radiation; and Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Bookstore. She lives in Bondsville, Massachusetts.

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