sentina, June 19, 2012 (view all comments by sentina)
Exhausting, but great insight into deeply troubled characters who have been shaped by the Catholic Church and often poverty.
The wonderful title has nothing to do with anything in the book, but I was determined to finish it, hoping that the connection would come and being entranced by the depth of insight into these deeply suffering and disturbed characters -- so much bitterness, anger, suffering, remorse, lack of forgiveness, violence, and occasional caring.
I've never read better descriptions of a manipulative user and how people fall under his spell because of their own dreams ("this was Omar's power... in vying for his affection, each scrutinized the other, but never knew him" and "... hog-tying them with their own fears, hopes, and sins").
The author writes with deep awareness into the minds and behaviors of a hopeless alcoholic, slow-thinking people, the yearning for love even among the "lowliest" of the population, the insanity of the sexual prohibitions and other craziness in the Catholic church, the uselessness of mindless violence, and the emptiness of these people's lives.
But aside from the main characters, the others in the story just sort of fade out, as guess as many people's lives do.
The ending was a relief, but not satisfying, because too many questions were unanswered about characters I came to care about. And there were so many of them, that only a book this long could begin to help the reader remember who they were and make sense of them.
Many of the sentences were long and mind-boggling, but represented the way people's minds can be overwhelmed with their thoughts.
Some phrases I really liked were:
The alcoholic finds himself "festering with so many of these amnesiac violations and humiliations.. like being stalked by his own maniacal twin."
After a young woman succumbs to the sexual advances of a young priest, whom the Church considers mentally ill for giving in to his sexual urges, her mother speaks of "the vile one-sidedness of sex with the humiliation and suffering it caused a woman."
About living in fear with secret thoughts or behaviors: "... this fragile duality: the devastating fear that everyone knew and the desperate need to believe that no one did."
sttrudi316, November 19, 2011 (view all comments by sttrudi316)
I could not put this book down. The author draws you in with details about each character, until you feel as though you live among them. The saddest hour was when I read the last page...because the book was no more. So now I am reading more of Mary Mcgarry Morris.
by Minneapolis Star Tribune,
"A nearly perfect summer book....Songs in Ordinary Time is real life cruising small-town USA with the top down and the volume up. In her graphic, stiletto chapters, Mary McGarry Morris is a cross between Elizabeth Gaskell and David Lynch."
A powerful and gripping novel from the acclaimed author of Vanished and A Dangerous Woman.
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