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Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan, Ann Marie Lee

In her best-selling debut, Commencement, J. Courtney Sullivan explored the complicated and contradictory landscape of female friendship. Now, in her highly anticipated second novel, Sullivan takes us into even richer territory, introducing four unforgettable women who have nothing in common but the fact that, like it or not, they’re family.

For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where children run in packs, showers are taken outdoors, and old Irish songs are sung around a piano. Their beachfront property, won on a barroom bet after the war, sits on three acres of sand and pine nestled between stretches of rocky coast, with one tree bearing the initials “A.H.” At the cottage, built by Kelleher hands, cocktail hour follows morning mass, nosy grandchildren snoop in drawers, and decades-old grudges simmer beneath the surface.

As three generations of Kelleher women descend on the property one summer, each brings her own hopes and fears. Maggie is thirty-two and pregnant, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her imperfect boyfriend the news; Ann Marie, a Kelleher by marriage, is channeling her domestic frustration into a dollhouse obsession and an ill-advised crush; Kathleen, the black sheep, never wanted to set foot in the cottage again; and Alice, the matriarch at the center of it all, would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, long ago.

By turns wickedly funny and achingly sad, Maine unveils the sibling rivalry, alcoholism, social climbing, and Catholic guilt at the center of one family, along with the abiding, often irrational love that keeps them coming back, every summer, to Maine and to each other.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307917294
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/14/2011
Product dimensions: 4.92(w) x 5.88(h) x 1.71(d)

About the Author

J. Courtney Sullivan is the author of the New York Times best-selling novel Commencement. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, the Chicago Tribune, New York, Elle, Glamour, Allure, and Men’s Vogue, among others. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Maine 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 335 reviews.
fi2Bme More than 1 year ago
I loved the detail and description of the character development. J. Courtney Sullivan weaves words seamlessly to paint a picture for her readers. The Maine property was both the protagonist and the antagonist in this story. I'm baffled the readers that panned this novel did not catch that. The only thing constant and unchanging was the cottage. It was the cottage that brought forth the four women characters' personalities and baggage. It as a shame that the characters could not recognize that life is too short and they should forgive each other. But that is exactly what true life is like. Real people go to their grave estranged from their blood relatives. People avoid what makes them feel uncomfortable or what is unpleasant. So Sullivan's characters were portrayed so realistically. Bravo for being so true to life and on target! As for the ending that all other reviewers complained about. Where can a story go with such unforgiving characters. There is no ending, everyone continues on with their own life, hoping that the next time they have to interact won't be too soon in coming. And that is exactly what we all do, "life goes on." All the characters are just trying to do the best they could for the way they are. The ending could also be Alice's way of leaving this world. Maybe the voice she hears is her God's telling her "Alice? Alice. It's time." Don't be swayed into not reading this story. It makes our own dysfunctional families look good, and makes us think that we can be better in redeeming ourselves in our own situations--always a favorable reason to read a good book. Enjoy!
Robin Grenier More than 1 year ago
I thought the author developed strong female characters with a lot of baggage. Unlike "Commencement" where the ending seemed rushed, "Maine" simply had no ending. I was so disappointed with a lack of closure, I am left assuming the author will continue with these characters in a sequel-otherwise I am to wonder, what was the point?
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1945, former Navy officer Daniel Kelleher won a bet with a former shipmate Ned. To pay his debt Ned gives Daniel land in Cape Neddick on coastal Maine. Daniel and his pregnant wife Alice raise a family and over time the Maine estate becomes their summer home. In the present, Alice the widower has become a drunk who holds court as she has since the Great War on the Maine estate as her family arrives for the summer. She internally rages over Daniel's death turning him into a martyr while their sexagenarian daughter Kathleen blames her for all their woes. Kathleen's sister-in-law Ann-Marie is an inane harmless doll belonging inside one of those dollhouses she collects. Finally there is the thirty something peacemaker, Alice's pregnant single daughter Maggie whose mom wants her to come to grips over what a baby means. The cast is powerful as each of the four women seem real and different though they possesses a guilt streak longer than the East Coast as if it is part of their DNA. Daniel comes alive through how the quartet perceived him. Although the plot is somewhat thin, readers will enjoy three generations of females coming together as each seeks solace and redemption, but with Daniel dead none know how to commence achieving their respective salvation. Harriet Klausner
fudgey More than 1 year ago
Who wants to read about family drama that takes place in most families? Don't waste your time reading this book. The characters are selfish and immature. There was no story behind this book...The ending was pathetic.
gina62 More than 1 year ago
I just spent a week of my life reading this book and waiting for one of these characters to mature or learn a lesson. Each one was more horrible than the next and they were not believable in the least. As I got closer to the end I kept thinking to myself, OK it's got to be coming soon and before I knew it the book was finished. It reminds me why I don't read fiction that often. Pass this one up and read something written by Geraldine Brooks!
McGuffyAnn More than 1 year ago
The Kelleher family is a close Irish Catholic family. Every summer they reunite at the family cottage off the coast of Maine. One particular summer four of the Kelleher women are privately battling issues. Some of these issues are between the adult Kelleher children, but some are within the Kelleher matriarch herself. Of course, there are many issues within the Kelleher family, as with all families. Family dysfunction is an old issue, a common issue in itself. In "Maine", J. Courtney Sullivan writes of this in a straightforward way, taking the Kelleher family and all of their problems head-on. Tradition and denial don't mix, or make for happiness on any level. There is sibling rivalry, unplanned pregnancy, religion, and alcoholism, among other personal and family dilemmas. Maine is a good depiction of a typical dysfunctional family who gets by year after year, by maintaining what they know of each other and themselves, holding on to the past and history because it works. The sorrow and pain in these characters is palpable. They are their own worst enemies, just as in real-life. J. Courtney Sullivan gets it right when it comes to family dysfunction and the family dynamics of it, like it or not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why do so many people feel that they have to give a synopsis of the story? All I want to know is if you liked it and why. Or if you did not like it and why. I have not read the book yet, but like to read the reviews to determine if I want to purchase it. The only thing I've learned from the reviews is that they are subjective. What one person considers a great book is another person's worst nightmare. From now on I'm going to ignore the reviews and make my own decisions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. I loved the characters and the way the author told the story from each characters specific point of view. I was not overly thrilled with the ending... because I wanted to know more. Maybe a sequel? I hope this author continues with many future books. I also loved Commencement. I will follow this auther and I highly praise this book.
Rachelle Scarfone More than 1 year ago
A novel highlighting family and the assumptions and misunderstandings that divide and unite us.
Bookworm40FL More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was great. I agree with one of the reviewers that the beginning was a little slow, but once I got started, I couldn't put it down. I think that the book was left wide open at the end and I hope that this means that there will be a sequel. Great read!
solkowski1 More than 1 year ago
I read this book because it was a pick for our book club. I struggled through the first hundred plus pages. I felt the writing was poor in that we were being told about characters and not meeting them. The author gave us a lot of information about the characters, but it was relayed as information that was confusing with talking about so many characters and very little interaction between them. Once the characters began arriving at the beach house it was considerably more interesting and made me want to finish the book. I don't think I would attempt another book by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was not the "easy and enjoyable" read I was hoping for. The other created three wonderful characters, but from beginning to end, nothing seemed to go in their favor. This book was very engaging the entire way through, but I only kept reading because I hoped the plot would take a turn. It didn't....each character just unveiled more and more hardships as the book continued. I wouldn't recommend this book to someone looking for a light read about Maine in the summertime. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great book by J. Courtney Sullivan. Like Commencement, I couldn't put it down!
jbarr5 More than 1 year ago
Family beach house in Maine where over the years the family members have assembled. Three generations of females descent upon the house one summer. Story starts out with how they were first married, and he had won the land when another couldn't pay their card debt. Alice remained and Daniel had passed away. Each of the kids and their families would come to the house a different month for each child and their family. Very confusing as each person gets their own chapter and you struggle to figure out who it is they are even talking about. Goes from the present to the past. It is a very good book, the setting especially.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was intriqued by the title as I live in Maine part of the year. But I found this very boring and the ending was a let down.
stoneharborladyKM More than 1 year ago
Found the first chapter or two a bit overwhelming, keeping track of everyone, but truly enjoyed it once I got into it. I hated to see the book end, and was very interested in reading the reviews of others, to see what their understanding of the end actually meant. It seems only one other reviewer shared my view, that Alice died at the end. That was my feeling, although I was not totally sure about it. Kudos to the author, a wonderful work!!!
Mindy Murphy More than 1 year ago
Great story until the last paragraph. Shame of an ending for such a great story.
Christine harris More than 1 year ago
Felt like characters werent fully developed and story not finished
mrsbeary More than 1 year ago
Quite honestly, I read this book because I love Maine and gravitate to books that take place there. This one didn't disappoint me in that way. I love the Ogonquit/Perkins Cove/Cape Neddick area and know it well, as we have a summer place there and for once I could relate to the area a book was about. The story line was another issue...the family got along as well as oil and water, with underlying issues that went back years and seem never to be forgotten or forgiven. A few times I wanted to shout out loud to them and say GET OVER IT! But, I kept on reading, hoping for some monumental turn of events...I was surprised when I turned the last page and knew I was at the end of the story... disappointing to say the least.
tafoot1 More than 1 year ago
Jayne1126 More than 1 year ago
Just finished this book and am highly disappointed with the ending because there was no ending!! Seriously? This is how you end a book? Not a single loose end was tied off and if there is a sequel I really don't care enough anymore to read it.
Anne Tyndorf More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book and all of the characters- author was great at developing each character and it was difficult to put down. If you are Irish Catholic, you must read this book.
Smartlady53 More than 1 year ago
If youre looking for a good beach book...dont waste your time with this one! The kindest thing I can say is that the characters are well developed, but that being said are mostly unlikeable...move on!!
Dee Hedderich More than 1 year ago
Great story and written well.
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Review by JoAnne: This book is a contemporary novel that is told from the female perspective of 3 generations of one family who are Irish and very Catholic. Insights are given to the great grandparents as well which shows how the family evolved to where it is today. There is a male viewpoint only because there are husbands, sons, grandsons, boyfriends, etc. in Maine but their stories are woven in without being in the forefront. There is much strife and conflict between the different family members, many of which goes back years, and shows the family dynamics today are the result. The story shows how decisions made at different times in their lives have helped make them who each of them are today.The novel itself did not progress as I anticipated and though drawn in I didn't feel an attachment to any of them except maybe Maggie. For the most part the story takes place at their summer houses in Maine The ending left a sour taste in my mouth. I felt there should have been at least a few more chapters to tie up loose ends. This book is not a lighthearted summer beach read but has much more depth and darkness to it.