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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris

What a slog along forever saga this novel was, all 740 pages, took me over a month to read it sporadically.  It was an Oprah Book Club pick back when, published in 1995.  A friend recalled it was one I wanted to read long ago and so she sent it to me for my birthday in November.I am always grateful to be remembered by people on my birthday and I really do appreciate a book as a gift.  My goodness, I do not think I will read anymore by this author.  At first I thought it would be more of a spurt, almost interwoven short stories about the multitude of characters, but no, it went along  a very long tale about several main characters, all interwoven around the fictional town of Atkinson, Vermont and the newcomer to this small town, Omar Duval.  I was compelled to read it though to the end to find out if Marie Fermoyle the divorced single hard working mother of 3 would ever wise up to the con of Duval.  

The writing is good but beyond me how this author found so much to say and say and say about the town and people. My first impression is that it would be somewhat like tales in a poverty area of Appalachia probably because it begins by  describing Duval's arrival when he "came down off the mountain into Atkinson."  There are a multitude of stories all converging in this small town USA,some pathetic, some annoying, some tiresome and some intriguing, so the novel offers a range of reading.  Just about the time I thought I had identified the  primary themes, another emerged.  

Page 102: "The three of them used to visit here every Sunday after Mass.  But that had
Back Cover
ended when Aunt Helen accused Norm of stealing her mission box.  She said there were five dollars' worth of dimes in it, enough to feed two Chinese babies for one year.  His mother went crazy.  She told Helen she had a hell of a nerve accusing her son of thievery when she, Helen, was the biggest thief in the whole world.  And, Benjy knew, a liar too; there had been only thirty one dimes in the box."    Marie Fermoyle is the struggling woman raising her children meagerly while her exhusband Sam wanders in and out of alcohol rehabilitation facilities.  Sam Fermoyle though comes from a wealthy family and will inherit abundance if his mother ever passes away, the mother is an elderly lady incapacitated  by  severe  dementia, kept at home in a crib.  The long suffering local Monsignor thought he finally got some help from the new priest Father Gannon, who soon adds to the problems the church has by being to free with the people and ultimately engaging himself with Alice, Maries's  daughter.  There is not one single character who does not fight some sort of demon, or go along with it.  

I would give this a 3 ***It is not really a bad  read if someone wants to read drama after personal drama, perhaps this novel fits the bill.  Described  as a good summer read, perhaps so.    

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