I read some books because they are "brain candy" - pure entertainment. When I read a novel by a Pulitzer prize nominee, I expect better. This book is a mess. If I have to ask myself at the end of a book why it was written, there is a problem with the message. You can learn about pus and boils - never to become a nun - murder is OK if it has a higher purpose.... I did not bond with the characters. My only goal was to finish the book in the hope that the ending would justify the rest. Wrong. Kristi & Abby Tabby
This book is a great read - not a pretty story, but full of the pathos of life. McDermott's a really great writer! Her development of character and her sympathetic feel for the ordinary person is remarkable. I just finished my fourth novel of hers and have put another on hold. I can't get enough!
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These nuns were feminists in their own way, seemingly subservient but accomplishing goals in their sisterhood. There are likely people alive today because of care given to a grandmother long ago by a nun- and at no cost to the health care system.
Quiet little novel that follows an Irish-American widow and her daughter and the nuns who helped them get by in the early years of 20th century Brooklyn. The story, heavily wrapped in the Catholicism of the time, reminded me some of the book "Brooklyn" by Colm Toibin, though it was a little less dreary. Readers who enjoy stories told from multiple perspectives will want to check this one out.
I found the book a compelling read. The work of the nursing nuns interesting, but their motivation and personalities are often not what you would expect.
Couldn't get past first 20 pages telling about the same event over and over again. Gloomy and depressing read.
In the early twentieth century, a young man commits suicide, leaving his pregnant wife to support herself by laboring in the laundry of a convent. McDermott's novel vividly recounts the lives of Annie, her very interesting daughter Sally, their neighbors, and the nuns who help raise Sally and serve their Irish-American community. Seamless and absorbing, with an evocative use of "we" as the narrative voice. McDermott is a master of this material.
I was totally immersed in this novel. It was a fascinating tale, in which nuns were presented as real people. The story of the young widow, Annie, and her daughter Sally was also very compelling. A quiet , contemplative novel, full of feeling.
When I finished this novel I felt a strong sense of satisfaction - not from a light and fun read but satisfaction in reading the author's strong sense of descriptions of place, events, and time. The part in the story that gives account of the basement laundry makes me actually sense, literally, the smell, the sight, and the feeling of being there. This feeling continued throughout. I was drawn in like I was actually living alongside the characters as the author spins an interesting tale.
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