J. Courtney Sullivan

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan is the story of two sisters from a small village in Ireland who emigrate to America. Their lives take different paths as the younger sister, Theresa, becomes pregnant and then joins a nunnery. Nora, the older sister marries, adopts her nephew, and raises him as her own child while concealing the identity of his birth mother. She has three other children. The sisters are estranged, maintaining an on and off relationship for decades until a possible reconciliation is suggested at the end of the novel when they are in their seventies.

The story is moderately interesting but the main flaws lie in the telling of it. Character portrayal is lackluster and, in the case of Nora’s lesbian daughter, borders on being stereotypical. The narrative consistently meanders into brief backstories that interrupt the general flow, giving the impression of distracting, unnecessary fillers.

Unfortunately, the novel was unable to live up to the promise of its engaging opening chapters.

AuthorTamara Agha-Jaffar
CategoriesBook Review