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Extended Audio Sample Maine, by J. Courtney Sullivan Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (13,325 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: J. Courtney Sullivan Narrator: Ann Marie Lee Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In her best-selling debut, Commencement, J. Courtney Sullivan explored the complicated and contradictory landscape of female friendship. Now, in her highly anticipated second novel, Sullivan takes us into even richer territory, introducing four unforgettable women who have nothing in common but the fact that, like it or not, they’re family. 

For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where children run in packs, showers are taken outdoors, and old Irish songs are sung around a piano. Their beachfront property, won on a barroom bet after the war, sits on three acres of sand and pine nestled between stretches of rocky coast, with one tree bearing the initials “A.H.” At the cottage, built by Kelleher hands, cocktail hour follows morning mass, nosy grandchildren snoop in drawers, and decades-old grudges simmer beneath the surface. 

As three generations of Kelleher women descend on the property one summer, each brings her own hopes and fears. Maggie is thirty-two and pregnant, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her imperfect boyfriend the news; Ann Marie, a Kelleher by marriage, is channeling her domestic frustration into a dollhouse obsession and an ill-advised crush; Kathleen, the black sheep, never wanted to set foot in the cottage again; and Alice, the matriarch at the center of it all, would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, long ago.

By turns wickedly funny and achingly sad, Maine unveils the sibling rivalry, alcoholism, social climbing, and Catholic guilt at the center of one family, along with the abiding, often irrational love that keeps them coming back, every summer, to Maine and to each other.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Ah, family. Isn’t it satisfying to leave your own briefly behind to drop in on another—and see how thoroughly they bungle it all up? This is the pleasure of Maine, J. Courtney Sullivan’s second novel, which delves into the secrets and simmering emotions of one dysfunctional family over the course of a single summer month…The dialogue sizzles as the tension between the women’s love and anger toward one another tightens…You don’t want the novel to end.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “[A] ruthless and tender novel about the way love can sometimes redeem even the most contentious of families. Like all first-rate comic fiction, Maine uses humor to examine the truths of the heart, in New England and far beyond.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “Sullivan presents women who may be stubborn and difficult, but she does so with such compassion and humor that we, too, end up rooting for them.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “A gem…Sullivan gives us three sunny, alcoholic acres of Maine coastline and three generations of Kelleher women.”


  • “I have never stayed at this cottage in Maine, or any cottage in Maine, but no matter: I now feel I know what it’s like being in a family that comes to the same place summer after summer, unpacking their familiar longings, slights, shorthand conversation, and ways of being together. J. Courtney Sullivan’s Maine is evocative, funny, close-quartered, and highly appealing.”

    Meg Wolitzer, New York Times bestselling author of The Uncoupling

  • “By the time you’re through with Maine, you’ll be craving a lobster roll and a trip to Kennebunkport.”


  • “A wonderful page-turner…Sullivan narrates the tale with verve and precision, drawing the reader into a compelling portrait of a specific family as it changes with the values and accidents of each era.”

    Providence Journal

  • “Nostalgic at times, up-to-the-minute at others, this meaty novel proves that Sullivan understands family.”

    Newark Star-Ledger

  • “Gives us…characters we can care about, despite their sometimes too-familiar flaws.”

    USA Today

  • Maine’s brisk storytelling and the unfurling of its central mystery…sweep readers along with gratifying sink-into-your-deck-chair ease.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Curl up with this wry, absorbing novel and eavesdrop on a summer’s worth of secrets, feuds, and misunderstandings.”


  • Maine covers a lot of multigenerational emotional ground and a lot of family history. As the story progresses, it’s intriguing to see the current dysfunction trace its way back through the generations to its roots in Catholic guilt, alcoholism and bad decisions…Sullivan captures the beauty of the coast, the magic of a black-as-velvet sky lit with stars, the pleasures of a seaside lobster pound.”

    Fort Worth Star-Telegram

  • “Articulate, insightful, profound.”

    Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

  • “Sullivan turns from friendships to family, writing with the same warmth and nuance as Commencement, but pushing her characters farther, creating an even more complex and satisfying whole.”


  • A 2011 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2011 Time Magazine Book of the Year for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Ann Gainer | 2/11/2014

    " A page-turning summer read. I preferred Commencement. The characters were interesting, though not compelling, and many seemed stereotypes, especially the mother figure, Alice. While I enjoyed learning about the Cocoanut Grove fire, it's inclusion seemed a bit contrived. Definitely a women's novel. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Sharon | 2/9/2014

    " Eh. I didn't resonate with the drama of the main characters. I just really didn't care. The character development seemed somewhat sterotypical, maybe contrived, by the author to portray a dysfunctional family. I wanted to like it, as Maine is a wonderful summer retreat, but the title wasn't given justice. The story could have taken place in Anywhere, USA. Maybe it should have been called Alice's House. I finished it because it was a book group selection, but if it was not, I would have stopped after a hundred pages. The story just didn't engage me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Lisa Masters | 2/4/2014

    " Too much family drama. I wanted a more interesting plot. The author makes a big deal about the house, I wanted the house to be more of a character in the story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Stephanie | 1/30/2014

    " Might just be because I relate to certain regional aspects... but I enjoyed it. "

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