Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

Saints for All Occasions

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 m...

Title:Saints for All Occasions
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0307959570
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:352 pages

Saints for All Occasions Reviews

  • Jenny
    May 27, 2017

    I loved this book. Great family drama! I liked how the author referenced the title throughout the book, which gave me a greater understanding of the meaning behind the title. The Catholic girl in me enjoyed the depiction of life within a convent and how that life has changed and evolved with the church. I'm not sure if I loved or disliked the ending. I think the only reason I may have disliked it is that I didn't want the book to end. Great read!

  • Claudia Silk
    Feb 04, 2017

    The best book J Courtney Sullivan has written and I really liked her previous books. It's the story of 2 sisters who come over from Ireland and settle in Boston. Such a great story and I didn't want it to end. Not coming out until the end of June but well worth the wait!

  • KC
    Mar 18, 2017

    I would like to thank Edelweiss, Knopf Publishing, and J. Courtney Sullivan for the advanced digital copy in exchange for an honest review. 1950's Ireland where teenagers Nora and her sister Theresa, embark on a journey to Boston, seeking a better life. Nora reluctantly accepts her boyfriends marriage proposal only after she discovers her younger sister pregnant, with the intention of adopting Theresa's baby. This tale spans multiple decades, covering the life choices that each of these women ma

    I would like to thank Edelweiss, Knopf Publishing, and J. Courtney Sullivan for the advanced digital copy in exchange for an honest review. 1950's Ireland where teenagers Nora and her sister Theresa, embark on a journey to Boston, seeking a better life. Nora reluctantly accepts her boyfriends marriage proposal only after she discovers her younger sister pregnant, with the intention of adopting Theresa's baby. This tale spans multiple decades, covering the life choices that each of these women make. Although I was not impressed with the story itself, the writing was stellar.

  • Susan Johnson
    Mar 27, 2017

    A family saga novel about two Irish sisters who travel to America to make a new life. Nora's fiancé is already there and pays for them to come and join him. Her sister, Theresa, joyfully starts a new life but Nora is homesick and hesitant. Nora and Charlie go on to have four children and Theresa surprisingly becomes a cloistered nun. They go their separate ways.

    At 50, Nora's oldest son, Patrick is killed and the family reunites for his wake and funeral. It is this gathering that the book center

    A family saga novel about two Irish sisters who travel to America to make a new life. Nora's fiancé is already there and pays for them to come and join him. Her sister, Theresa, joyfully starts a new life but Nora is homesick and hesitant. Nora and Charlie go on to have four children and Theresa surprisingly becomes a cloistered nun. They go their separate ways.

    At 50, Nora's oldest son, Patrick is killed and the family reunites for his wake and funeral. It is this gathering that the book centers. People look back on their lives and how they got to where they are.

    It's a little drawn out and unfortunately I feel like I've read it before. There's nothing new, nothing really insightful, and nothing that really holds your attention. I just kept wishing the funeral would end. Still if you life family sagas, you might enjoy this

  • switterbug (Betsey)
    Mar 22, 2017

    The first seventy or so pages of this Irish family saga is concise, droll, tough, and tender, and introduces us to immigrants Nora Flynn and younger sister Theresa, who moved from Ireland to Boston (Dorchester) in the mid-1950s. Nora, 21 and four years older than Theresa, has been very protective of her younger sister since their mother died. They leave their widowed father and brother behind, promising to return to the country they love once they find jobs and raise enough money. But over fifty

    The first seventy or so pages of this Irish family saga is concise, droll, tough, and tender, and introduces us to immigrants Nora Flynn and younger sister Theresa, who moved from Ireland to Boston (Dorchester) in the mid-1950s. Nora, 21 and four years older than Theresa, has been very protective of her younger sister since their mother died. They leave their widowed father and brother behind, promising to return to the country they love once they find jobs and raise enough money. But over fifty years later, Nora remains near Boston, while Theresa is a cloistered nun in Vermont.

    As the novel opens, it is 2009, and Nora is the mother of four adult children. It is the oldest, Patrick, who she adores the most, despite his reckless and lazy lifestyle and boozy habits. She gets a phone call that he has died in a car accident, which unglues her, and subsequently she makes an impulsive call to the convent where Theresa has lived for the past half century, and leaves a message informing her of Patrick’s death and inviting her to the funeral. It is obvious that they are estranged. The rest of the novel covers the past and the present and gradually tells us the story of their falling out.

    I was sucked into the interior--and exterior-- life of Nora, an initially complex character with her mixture of family devotion and repression. She is in denial that her forty-year-old daughter is gay, despite the indisputable clues. Her son, John, a Democrat, has made a bundle working for a Republican that he knew from childhood, a slick politician who makes Nora apoplectic. Brian is a has-been baseball player struck down by various injuries while en route to stardom. He works at Patrick's bar and lives back at home with Nora. Nora’s husband is several years dead now, and all the secrets of Nora’s past are busting at the seams to get out. "There was always time to get rid of your ghosts." And now time is closing in on Nora.

    The nascent pages held me in its grip. Lean, and with a terse tempo and gallows humor. I was glued to the events and the dropped little reveals. But then it turned into melodrama. It became static and clingy, including the characters. Theresa goes from one extreme to another, which is about as interesting these days as stripper to saved.

    Other than Nora, who eventually became a parody of herself, this 50+ year span became repetitive, depleted by all the filler. It was just more of the same. The children, except maybe for Bridget, were wafer-thin portrayals. What happened off stage and referred to later (or thrown in) felt labored and inconsequential after Sullivan ran over it several times. Mundane events stood on ceremony and then withered to monotony, and the dry humor gave way to treacle sentiment and info dumps.

    I kept hoping it would capture the vitality and crisp flow of the beginning seventy or so pages, only to be disappointed by a baggy follow-through. I chose this book because I’m a fan of her witty and authentic last novel, THE ENGAGEMENTS. Sullivan is capable of an artful, exciting narrative, but this one doesn’t live up to her previous talents. The best analogy I can give is that, if this were television, it would be network TV, not cable.

    2.75 stars

  • Pouting Always
    Jun 05, 2017

    Nora is Theresa's older sister and constantly worries about Theresa, especially since their mother died. Nora feels like it is her responsibility to take care of Theresa and so when Nora's fiance moves to the US Nora asks him to send for both her and Theresa. Charlie, Nora's fiance, eventually saves up enough for both sisters to come over from Ireland and the two journey out together. Theresa is excited for all the opportunities available to her and begins to pursue her education, meanwhile Nora

    Nora is Theresa's older sister and constantly worries about Theresa, especially since their mother died. Nora feels like it is her responsibility to take care of Theresa and so when Nora's fiance moves to the US Nora asks him to send for both her and Theresa. Charlie, Nora's fiance, eventually saves up enough for both sisters to come over from Ireland and the two journey out together. Theresa is excited for all the opportunities available to her and begins to pursue her education, meanwhile Nora struggles with her new life and promise to marry Charlie. Then when Theresa makes a mistake Nora steps up to take care of it and Theresa which means having to marry Charlie. The story interweaves the past and the present, where Nora in the present day must deal with the death of her eldest son Patrick, who had always been her favorite and the fall out between her and Theresa.

    I really enjoyed this family drama, I usually tend to enjoy family dramas for whatever reason. The writing was really great and I loved both sisters. The story felt like it lost some steam towards the end but it might be because it was building up to Theresa and Nora's reconciliation and so once Theresa actually showed up at Patrick's funeral and nothing really happened it felt anticlimactic. It was realistic but I'm not sure how satisfying it was but I guess there's never any neat closure in life is there. I do think its really unfair of Theresa though to try and make the decision for Nora about telling Patrick because it doesn't feel like it's her place to do so anymore. Even though she never gave him up willingly, I just feel like she should have been much more appreciative of what Nora did for her and gave up for her. I don't think Theresa would have been able to take care of Patrick as well in the situation. It was really enjoyable to read this though, even though religion tends to turn me off in books. The plot line and ideas behind the book aren't unique ones but they're executed well.

    Also before I go I want to say that John is underappreciated and I'm so sad about it, like why doesn't anyone else love John the way I do, John deserves all the love.

  • Diane S ☔
    May 29, 2017

    4.5. I has been quite a while since I have read a family generational novel, a family drama if you will, though in this the drama is kept to a minimum, at least in the telling. Two sisters, Nora 21 and Theresa arrive from Ireland, they have traveled alone so that Nora can marry her boyfriend who had arrived previously. Let's just say that things do not work out as planned and the two sisters will take different paths, but always connected by a secret.

    I loved the way this story was told, so natur

    4.5. I has been quite a while since I have read a family generational novel, a family​ drama if you will, though in this the drama is kept to a minimum, at least in the telling. Two sisters, Nora 21 and Theresa arrive from Ireland, they have traveled alone so that Nora can marry her boyfriend who had arrived previously. Let's just say that things do not work out as planned and the two sisters will take different paths, but always connected by a secret.

    I loved the way this story was told, so natural and unassuming. The way the author uses the framing of a death to tell her story of lives lived. Fell in love with these characters, their past, their personalities, flawed and so very real, felt as if they could he family members we get to know them so well. Parts take place in a contemplative Abbey and I enjoyed learning of the lives of the sisters who lived within.

    Secrets, the complicated roles of family members, feelings, thoughts, the families we make and the families we are born to are all themes. How an unexpected happening can affect our personalities and the roles we assume in the future. The changes that result and that we must find a life despite our choices. I loved so much about this book, a book whose situations called for drama and yet the author manages to hold back, not let the story descend into a soap opera. Was quite sad to let these characters go, but so glad to have read their story.

  • Wyndy
    Jun 08, 2017

    4.5 stars. "Taken together, the small choices anyone made added up to a life." Twelve words . . . twelve simple, thought-provoking words that sum up the way this book is written: Pared-down but rich; personal but not sentimental; emotional without being dramatic.

    This is a fascinating family saga centered around two Irish Catholic families - the Flynns and the Raffertys. Sisters Nora and Theresa Flynn, whose mother is dead, leave County Clare, Ireland at the ages of 21 and 17, without their gran,

    4.5 stars. "Taken together, the small choices anyone made added up to a life." Twelve words . . . twelve simple, thought-provoking words that sum up the way this book is written: Pared-down but rich; personal but not sentimental; emotional without being dramatic.

    This is a fascinating family saga centered around two Irish Catholic families - the Flynns and the Raffertys. Sisters Nora and Theresa Flynn, whose mother is dead, leave County Clare, Ireland at the ages of 21 and 17, without their gran, their father or their brother Michael and journey to Boston USA to join Charlie Rafferty, Nora's fiancé, who has his own reasons for leaving Ireland. The story of their lives alternates between the years 1957 - 1976 and one single week in 2009 - the week Patrick Rafferty dies in a car crash and is buried. The crux of the story, once the early history of both families is established, is about the repercussions of choices made and lies told regarding Patrick's conception, birth, and life up to his untimely death at age 50.

    This is not a smarmy, formulaic, tear-jerking saga. It's a well-written novel about ordinary people and the difficult decisions they make. It's about duty and the trials of parenting. It's about resilience and determination. It's about searching for peace and acceptance. And in the end, this story is all about family and forgiveness. I cared about every single person in this book (even Nora) and wanted only the best for each of them - which says much about this writer's skills. Parting quote: "Someone could save your life without you ever knowing it." Ten words. Highly recommend to any reader.

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