J.Courtney Sullivan


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The Kelleher's beachfront holiday house creaks under a weight of secrets.
A place where cocktails follow morning mass and children eavesdrop, it is home to matriarch Alice, who would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, decades before.
As summer arrives and the women in Alice's family descend on the shore, it soon becomes clear that these mothers and daughters have been deeply hurt by the people they love the most. But as this fierce, irrational love burns ever brighter, anger builds and painful secrets are unearthed.
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507 printed pages
Original publication



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    Jana Karpenkohas quoted7 years ago
    She missed yoga. You couldn’t throw a rock in Brooklyn without hitting three yoga studios, but her kind of yoga had nothing to do with svelte twenty-six-year-olds in trendy workout gear. Her kind of yoga included Arlo and her in the backyard, wearing sweatpants, gazing at the mountains in the distance, rather than looking out at a sea of taxicabs through a dirty window.
    Jana Karpenkohas quoted8 years ago
    Kathleen had never liked the way Ann Marie treated kids, no matter how maternal everyone thought she was. She’d bake cookies with them after school and take them ice-skating and make clothes for their dolls, putting other mothers to shame in that way. (Some women were created to make other women feel like shit about themselves. Ann Marie was one of them.) But she also controlled every move her children made—she told them what to wear, which classes to take, who they should and should not date. She wouldn’t let them have so much as a goldfish in the house even though they begged for a puppy, because she couldn’t stand the mess associated with pets. Fiona, her youngest, had wanted to play the tuba in the high school band; Ann Marie insisted that the piccolo was more appropriate.
    Who could say what Ann Marie’s children might have become if they’d been allowed to just be?
    Jana Karpenkohas quoted8 years ago
    After I had you, I understood for the first time why people shake their babies to death,” she had told Maggie on one of her long trips to New York.
    “Thanks a lot,” Maggie had said.
    “Oh no, that’s not what I meant,” Kathleen said. “It wasn’t you—you were the best baby I ever saw. It’s motherhood in general that makes a woman nuts. All those hormones rushing around inside you. You can’t sleep. You can’t reason with this little beast. Before I had kids, I thought those people who shook babies were monsters, with some sort of inorganic urge. Then I realized that the violent urge is totally natural. It’s the stopping yourself part that’s inorganic, that takes real work.”

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