Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
A novel

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The big problem with the novel is that its key premise—that Theresa becomes a nun—just isn’t believable, despite pages and pages of inner monologue...Still, Saints for All Occasions is an engrossing read with likable characters, unexpected plot twists, and an easy flowing style.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

"I hope to read another novel as strong and wise and beautiful and heartbreaking as J. Courtney Sullivan's Saints for All Occasions this year, but I'm not sure I will." Richard Russo

A sweeping, unforgettable novel from The New York Times best-selling author of Maine, about the hope, sacrifice, and love between two sisters and the secret that drives them apart.

Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Nora is the responsible sister; she's shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn't sure that she loves. Theresa is gregarious; she is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls on Dudley Street. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan—a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand. Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family with four grown children: John, a successful, if opportunistic, political consultant; Bridget, quietly preparing to have a baby with her girlfriend; Brian, at loose ends after a failed baseball career; and Patrick, Nora's favorite, the beautiful boy who gives her no end of heartache. Estranged from her sister, Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont. Until, after decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago. A graceful, supremely moving novel from one of our most beloved writers, Saints for All Occasions explores the fascinating, funny, and sometimes achingly sad ways a secret at the heart of one family both breaks them and binds them together.
 

About J. Courtney Sullivan

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J. Courtney Sullivan's work has appeared in The New York Times, New York, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Allure, Men's Vogue, the New York Observer, Tango, and in the essay anthology The Secret Currency of Love. She is a graduate of Smith College, lives in Brooklyn, and works in the editorial department of The New York Times. Commencement is her first novel.
 
Published May 9, 2017 by Knopf. 353 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Saints for All Occasions
All: 4 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Above average
on Apr 02 2017

Sullivan often approaches melodrama, but she steers clear of the sentimentality that might easily have crept into this tale of regret and nostalgia.

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NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Fran Hawthorne on May 13 2017

The big problem with the novel is that its key premise—that Theresa becomes a nun—just isn’t believable, despite pages and pages of inner monologue...Still, Saints for All Occasions is an engrossing read with likable characters, unexpected plot twists, and an easy flowing style.

Read Full Review of Saints for All Occasions: A n... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Washington Times

Above average
Reviewed by Claire Hopley on Jun 15 2017

Admirers of J. Courtney Sullivan’s earlier novels, especially the 2011 best seller “Maine,” will likely also love “Saints for All Occasions.” Newcomers to her work will also appreciate her control of the family saga genre, and her grasp of family dynamics.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by SUZANNE BERNE on May 26 2017

Why she makes this choice, and especially how it affects Nora, will require the rest of this carefully plotted novel to trace.

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Reader Rating for Saints for All Occasions
85%

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