Saints for All Occasions Summary and Reviews

Saints for All Occasions

A novel

by J. Courtney Sullivan

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan X
Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
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  • Published in USA  May 2017
    352 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Sullivan has a gift for capturing complicated sibling dynamics, especially in a family ruled by Catholic repression… A satisfying… rich, well-crafted story." - Publishers Weekly

"Sullivan once again expertly delivers a messy and complicated family story with sharp yet sympathetic writing." - Booklist

"[Sullivan] brings her characters to life, capturing the complexities and nuances of family, tradition, and kept secrets. For all fiction readers." - Library Journal

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

"Here to fill the Brooklyn-sized hole in your heart is the story of sisters Nora and Theresa Flynn, Irish Catholics who journey to America full of hope." - Glamour's Best Books to Read in 2017

"Utterly unputdownable... A beautiful novel about family, secrets, and the ties that bind us to each other." - PopSugar's "26 Hot New Books You'll Want to Get Your Hands On This Spring"

"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

"What a beautiful, beautiful book. I loved this family, recognized them, cheered them on and cried for them. Like the very best novels of our time, Saints for All Occasions will engage both your head and your heart." - Elin Hilderbrand, author of The Identicals

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Reader Reviews

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Celia

Saints or Sinners?
"How could you be this close, be a family, and yet be so unknown to one another?"

This quote sums up the reason for this book... the whole theme of this book: We can be a family, yet not know each other. Undoubtedly, this is because we do not let ourselves BE known.

This is the story of two sisters, Nora and Theresa. How they came to America from Ireland and then became estranged.

I was drawn to this book because of the reference to saints. In this book, a box of holy cards with saints pictures on the front is described. On the back is the cause or group that the saint 'patrons'. If you are a Catholic, you will know what I mean. For those who don't, I'll give an example. St. Cecilia is the patron saint of music and musicians. Theresa becomes Mother Cecilia, a cloistered nun. I am Celia and musical too. No wonder I was drawn to the book.

This book describes real family drama: the children of Nora, Patrick, John, Bridget and Brian all have their stories and secrets.

Getting to know this family was like getting to know my own family. I felt close to them all, even though I did not always understand the motivations of all. Good book that keeps the reader enthralled.

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Author Information

J. Courtney Sullivan

J. Courtney Sullivan is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Commencement and Maine. Maine was named a Best Book of the Year by Time magazine, and a Washington Post Notable Book for 2011. Her third novel, The Engagements, has been called "her most ambitious novel yet" by Entertainment Weekly. Kirkus gave it a starred review, and praised The Engagements as "Elegant, assured, often moving and with a gentle moral lesson to boot."

Courtney's writing has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, Elle, Glamour, Allure, and the New York Observer, among many others. She is a co-editor of Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Visit Courtney at www.jcourtneysullivan.com or on Twitter at @jcourtsull

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