Having spent my favorite childhood summers in Maine, I was so excited for J. Courtney Sullivan’s new novel, Maine. Would her story of three generations of Kelleher women who find themselves back at their summer home--all facing their own secret hardships and challenges--deliver? It certainly did.
It is the final summer in Maine for the Kelleher family, and its four strong-willed women are dreaming of bare feet, cocktails at sunset, and that magical ocean air. Alice is the matriarch, a regular fixture at morning mass, and an equally regular fixture in the wicker chair on the sun porch where she spends all afternoon drinking manhattans and smoking cigarettes. Maggie is Alice’s granddaughter, a thirty-two-year-old writer who has just realized she's pregnant, a fact she has yet to tell her off-again boyfriend. Maggie’s mother, Kathleen, is the prodigal daughter, camped out in California, wishing desperately to avoid the annual Kelleher showdown. And Ann Marie, Alice’s daughter-in-law, is the long-suffering martyr and avid dollhouse collector who is determined to keep this chaotic household in order.
Over the course of this summer, long-held secrets are revealed, embarrassing crushes bloom, and gallons of vodka are consumed. While Alice must face reminders of a devastating tragedy, Maggie has to decide what to do about Gabe and the baby, Kathleen comes face to face with the woman she most fears, and Ann Marie desperately tries to maintain the image of a perfect family.
Sullivan spins an unhurried and thoughtful tale that delves into familial love, romantic heartaches, tightly-held longings, and a lot of hope. I loved these women and felt grateful to join them as they returned to Maine--just in time to figure out where they needed to go next.