Saturday, January 21, 2012

Maine - J. Courtney Sullivan

If you give me a book about several generations of women in the same family that is a relatively easy read - one that you could see yourself taking out at the beach or on any relaxing vacation, then chances are that I'm going to like it.  Maine definitely fits the description.  Shockingly, it takes place in Maine, at Alice's summer home.  After the passing of her husband, she is left alone, except for the sporadic company of her three children - none of which she seems to particularly like, and none of which particularly like her.  A series of events bring her daughter Katherine, her granddaughter Maggie, and her daughter-in-law Ann Marie to the house at the same time.  As the family history unfolds so do the various conflicts among the family members - but though they all share a passive-aggressive gene, none of them seem much committed to resolving any of the family drama, acknowledging their own wrong-doing in anything, or making a commitment to living a life free of negativity.  Even Katherine, who takes her AA quite seriously is the biggest offender of starting arguments for no particular reason.  In this way, I found the book annoying and almost unbelievable - clearly there are unplesant people in the world, but are there any truly this unpleasant?  Maggie, the only one not trying to start a fight, and actually attempting to build relationships with her relatives, is a pathetic doormat in her relationship with boyfriend in a way that makes all her interactions with anyone just seem desperate and sad.  Yet, despite not liking a single character in this book, the overall story still worked for me.  At base, it's just another story about a dysfunctional family (kind of reminded me of Weird Sisters, though not as clever), but it was filled with some pretty good gossip and secrets, and definitely an entertaining read at the end of a long day.

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