Saints for All Occasions: the best of the best in Irish-Catholic family sagas

J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Maine, Commencement and The Engagements, again returns to Boston (where at least a portion of all of her books take place) in her latest family saga, Saints for All Occasions. A master of depicting tight-knight Irish-American families full of secrets, Sullivan possesses the rare ability to tell stories that span decades without losing the reader in time. Saints for All Occasions technically begins twice: first in 2009 when Nora Rafferty’s oldest son Patrick dies in a car crash and again in 1957 when Nora and her sister Theresa make the voyage from Ireland to America to join Nora’s fiancé, Charlie, in Boston.

What transpires between 1957 and 2009 seems at first simple: Theresa gets pregnant out of wedlock—at the time a particularly terrible fate for a young Irish Catholic girl—and goes reluctantly to a nunnery for the duration of her pregnancy and to have the baby. She doesn’t want to give her child up, but is forced to by the nuns. Nora—recently married to Charlie—agrees to take the boy in and raise him as her own. The effects of this choice drive the rest of the story, which introduces us to Nora’s other three children and to the path that Theresa followed after her pregnancy. Anyone who is familiar with Boston, with Irish-Catholic families, or with both will connect immediately to the portrait of the Raffertys that Sullivan paints in Saints for All Occasions. Her characters and their choices are believable and well-formed, and she travels between time periods deftly, revealing the secrets of the story to readers at the exact right moments.

Saints for All Occasions is a wonderful read to sneak in on your summer reading list.

Comments

Hey eapearce:

Glad you are blogging about this. The BOCD was fantastic. Kept my interest for a 14-hour drive. Thanks.


@muffy--thanks! I really enjoyed it. Glad to hear the BOCD was great too.


I like books that successfully span decades


I've never heard of this particular author before. Sounds like a novel to check out!!

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sounds interesting

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