Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

Novelists used to specialize in entertaining, funny-sad, well-observed stories about complicated family relationships. But such books were in surprisingly short supply this year, which makes a gem like Maine all the more precious. Sullivan gives us three sunny, alcoholic acres of Maine coastline and three generations of Kelleher women: the upright matriarch, the good-girl daughter-in-law, the black sheep and the black sheep's writer daughter. All four are busy forging complicated compromises between domesticity and career, love and marriage. Nobody is completely happy with the deal she's struck, but they have to learn to live with it or strike another before it's too late.