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‘Maine’ by J. Courtney Sullivan is a novel about a Boston-Irish Catholic family. The setting is a beachfront cottage in Cape Neddick, Maine, where the Kelleher family has spent summers for generations.
The story is told from four points of view beginning with Alice, a curmudgeon of an old lady in her eighties and the manipulating matriarch of this family.
The other voices are Alice’s daughter, Kathleen; Kathleen’s daughter, Maggie (and Alice’s granddaughter); and Alice’s daughter-in-law Ann Marie. Each character tells her story through alternating chapters. The four women explore their identities as individuals at their different life stages.
Ann Marie has assigned a month to each of them as her time to visit. The siblings never want to be there all at the same time, but they find solace there in the summer place.
Overshadowing the current visits is the news of what Alice is planning to do with the beachfront property when she dies.
The story touches on many subjects: family, relationships, entitlement, guilt and the inability to let go. It is a rich examination of how one family “happens.”