The Shortest Way Home: A Novel

The Shortest Way Home: A Novel

4.0 14
by Juliette Fay

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Sean has spent twenty years in Third World war zones and natural disaster areas, fully embracing what he’d always felt was his life’s mission. But when burnout sets in, Sean is reluctantly drawn home to Belham, Massachusetts, the setting of Fay’s much-loved

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Sean has spent twenty years in Third World war zones and natural disaster areas, fully embracing what he’d always felt was his life’s mission. But when burnout sets in, Sean is reluctantly drawn home to Belham, Massachusetts, the setting of Fay’s much-loved Shelter Me. There, he discovers that his steely aunt, overly dramatic sister, and quirky nephew are having a little natural disaster of their own. When he reconnects with a woman from his past, Sean has to wonder if the bonds of love and loyalty might just rewrite his destiny. Completely relatable, The Shortest Way Home is another perfect serving of a slice of life from the irresistible Fay.

Winner of the Library Journal Award for Best Women's Fiction

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Three decades ago, Sean Doran’s mother died at 33 of Huntington’s disease, and his father, a merchant marine, left Sean and his two siblings in the care of their cold and distant Aunt Vivian. Though the siblings grow up aware of the threat of Huntington’s, they’ve never been tested; Sean’s sentiment, “I didn’t take it. I didn’t want to know,” is shared by all. Sean, now 44, has spent years exploring the world as a nurse, from one war-torn region to another. But when his brother, Hugh, dies of pneumonia, his sister, Deidre, puts her acting career on hold to care for Hugh’s son, Kevin, and their aunt, who she says has “lost it.” Sean returns from Africa and assumes the parental burden, a responsibility for which he is ill equipped. Soon, he reconnects with Becky, his childhood friend, but their budding romance is threatened by Sean’s pathological reluctance to put down roots, and he has to finally decide what’s most important to him. Fay’s third novel (after Deep Down True) is a touching exploration of a damaged family working to repair itself, with universal appeal in Sean’s reluctance to assume responsibility. Agent: Theresa Park. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Fay once again draws readers into an absorbing world of domestic complications and heart-tugging characters. Sean's family life was rocked by Huntington's disease, which took his young mother's life. After being raised by his prickly aunt, he fled Belham, MA, to work as a nurse in various war-torn countries. Twenty years later, he is called home when his aunt shows signs of decline. Both Sean's sister and his recently deceased brother's 11-year-old son need his help. But how easily can Sean step out of his African life and into parenting a young boy and caring for his failing aunt? When his sister moves away, Sean faces with a difficult decision; then he rekindles a relationship with an old friend from high school. Fay deftly handles the intricacies and emotions of family life while keeping the pace brisk. She also incorporates characters from her previous novel, Shelter Me, and these glimpses into their future are a joy. VERDICT Fay is one of the best authors of women's fiction, and her novels are not to be missed. A moving, introspective look at what it means to be family, and to be truly home. Recommended for public libraries.—Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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The Shortest Way Home: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
charlottesweb93 More than 1 year ago
The Shortest Way Home was a really sweet, tender family novel. It is rare for a Women's Fiction book to be told from a male viewpoint, but Juliette Fay has done just that. Sean is a good guy who was, first, glad to be home around the familiarity of his past, but then realized just how badly Kevin needed a father figure and how badly Aunt Vivian needed a caretaker. The realization of how badly they needed him was a bit suffocating at first and that is where you can really see the transformation in Sean. Going from this guy who thought he was on vacation visiting family, to this guy who realizes the weight of the responsibility waiting for him. I especially enjoyed the relationship between Sean and Kevin. Kevin is such a unique little boy and I love the way Sean starts to realize just how unique Kevin is and that to leave him alone with Aunt Vivian would do irreparable damage. Bottom line, The Shortest Way Home, is a sweet and tender novel about the ties that bind, family. The story itself is well written and obviously written from the heart. If you are looking for a good novel about the importance of family, no matter what the age, then you simply must read The Shortest Way Home.
constantreaderRM More than 1 year ago
In THE SHORTEST WAY HOME the author shows how family and friends intertwine over the years--how friend become family, how family ties require sacrifice--and all of it written so well that the pages turn until you realize you should have turned the light off hours ago. Juliette Faye is generous with her characters, even when they are acting in the most foolish of ways. A beautiful book.
CB-WI More than 1 year ago
Lovely book with well developed, believable characters, but I did like "Shelter Me" (also by Juliette Fay) a bit better although that may be because I tend to gravitate to stories with a female protagonist over a male. I did like how Ms Fay interwove the concept of being called by the higher power to our life's work but being open to a changing message into the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I honestly could not put Juliette's newest novel down. I was laughing, crying and most of all, thinking. It is a fascinating, moving and heartfelt story. I am counting the days until her next book is published!
PaulineMA More than 1 year ago
I happen to believe that anything written by Juliette Fay is a win. I believed that since I read Shelter Me. She develops characters and shows you the side that is imperfect and impatient, the depth of a character that you don't always get in a contemporary novel. As much as Huntington's was a big piece of this story, the sensory issues that Kevin lived with were so enlightening. I really learned a lot about that. I felt like it tied in well with the whole family dysfunction and dynamics. I'm a nurse, so I identified with Sean in that way. I felt overwhelmed by all the issues he was dealing with for his various family members, in the same way that you might feel overwhelmed in real life. About the time that I was half way through the book...I felt like I wanted to stop. Not because is wasn't good, but just because I wanted to be in the middle of this story for a while longer..I wanted to put the brakes on this story to stay in it. Now I'm done and I'll likely be thinking about it for a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have re-read this book sevrral times and slways enjoy it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was well written and kept my interest.  I loved Shelter Me so much though, I found myself comparing the two constantly. 
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BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
You might think that a guy who makes his living as a nurse in remote, poverty-stricken countries would be able to come home for a little bit of rest and recuperation from the toll such difficult work has taken on his body. Yeah, not so much. Sean is at a crossroads. He has apparently outrun the likelihood of having inherited Huntington’s Disease from his mother but his body is wracked with constant pain and he seems to have lost some of the drive that has led him to spend years giving service to others in dire need. Home is where he needs to be for a while, especially since things are not so good there, either, with his aunt showing signs of dementia, his orphaned nephew withdrawing from the world and his sister becoming angrier every day that she has had to give up most of her dreams to watch over Aunt Vivvy and Kevin. Sean’s faith is taking a hit, too, and his prayers just don’t seem to mean as much as they used to. Little by little, though, Sean begins to make connections with his past through friends old and new, even with those issues that will probably never be fully resolved, and he finds that the present may not be in such depressing shape as he thought. Coming home started out as an obligation to family as well as an escape from physical pain and emotional bleakness. Could it be that coming home will turn out to be his salvation? Author Juliette Fay has already established herself as a writer who has that special touch with words, who can pull the reader into the story she’s telling, and this book is no exception. Her rich prose and her insight into people’s behavior are what make this true comfort fiction and men will enjoy it just as much as women. One of the pleasures of The Shortest Way Home is a cast of characters that are mostly very likeable and even those who are not so appealing still engage the reader’s interest. In short, Sean and his family and friends are the sort of people you can find in your own surroundings and so they feel “real” for lack of a better word. I was engaged with Sean from the beginning and, as time went on, I found myself rooting for this man who had fled his own uncertain future but had, as a result, become a man dedicated to helping others. Perhaps it’s now Sean’s turn to find happiness and peace. Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2012.
ChevyChaseReader More than 1 year ago
Juliette Fay is at her best in The Shortest Way Home. It's an irresistible read. Bravo for her vivid and quirky cast of characters, her keen eye for interesting details and, most of all, her wit throughout. I highly recommend all of her books, but this one especially warmed my heart!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would NEVER have bought this if I knew it was about Huntington's. I have suffered enough with the disease in my family. What a complete waste of money.