- Oprah's Book Club Selection
Songs in Ordinary Time Paperback – Aug 1 1996
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Oprah Book Club® Selection, June 1997: A dark secret lies at the heart of Mary McGarry Morris's extraordinary novel, Songs in Ordinary Time. Rooted in the delicate web of emotions, lies, and truths that bind people together, the story takes place in the primarily Catholic town of Atkinson, Vermont, during the summer of 1960. Here Marie Fermoyle struggles to raise her three children. She already has two strikes against her: she married above her station and now is divorced from her alcoholic husband, Sam. That he is the town drunk and a laughingstock only further marks the Fermoyles.
Enter Omar Duvall, a confidence man. He comes to the door asking for bread and sees an opportunity. Soon he has insinuated himself into the Fermoyle family, promising Marie companionship, love, a willing pair of shoulders to share her burden. Twelve-year-old Benjy knows something terrible about Duvall, but, desperate for anything that will make his mother happy, he hides the truth. This silence gives Duvall time to bring Marie to the brink of financial disaster and lead her sons into mortal danger.
Songs in Ordinary Time includes a chorus of other Atkinson inhabitants: town cop Sonny Stoner and his dying wife; insurance salesman Bob Haddad, so enthralled with his beautiful wife that he's willing to steal for her; and Father Gannon, the young priest with whom Marie's daughter Alice becomes involved; and the Klubock family next door, who epitomize all that is normal to young Benjy. With these lives threaded through her bittersweet tale of the Fermoyles, Morris strikes all the notes of loneliness, hope, and familial love.
From Publishers Weekly
Set in Vermont during the summer of 1960, Morris's latest concerns a dysfunctional family that falls prey to a dangerous con man.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
I did end up liking the book, and I was VERY close to putting it down & not finishing it. I am glad I stuck it out.
The characters are memorable. Their plights, long & hard.
You will cringe with them when things go wrong. It's a story that is so believable it feels real. I see why Oprah picked it.
Just remember, there are many books that start off slow, but they don't always have such a rewarding ending.
Next, we have Marie Fermoyle and her three unusual children. I found it sad that she was so desperate for love, that she fell for the fat, slovenly Omar Duval in his one and only shabby suit and his see-through lies.
Overall, the entire cast of characters and their individual miseries interweave into an overall story that plays out rather well. Basket-case USA.
One thing that really stuck in my craw was Alice Fermoyle's treatment of Blue Mooney. Maybe because I've always been attracted to just such a guy, I thought she should have given Blue more of a chance. Oh well. That's my opinion.
If you want to read a book that has a multitude of characters and sub-plots, this is a good choice. But don't expect a happily ever after.
As the story opens, we meet The Judge, but he's dead. His housekeeper lets him stay propped up in the window, refusing to admit he's dead until he starts to get quite ripe.
The rest of the story is about greed, and the human desire to believe that someone can come along and solve all your problems for you. And how badly we want someone to solve our problems, that we ignore the fact that he may be a slick talking, murdering, thief.
This book had such gross and dark images that I just did not like it. I made myself finish the book, but it was difficult.
Still much good prose and many juicy secrets. It sort of reminded me of Peyton Place. I suppose no one would agree though because this book is not controversial (although some of the scenes in it can be morally repulsive).
Don't read this book-Fiona Range is reputed to be better (it's by the same author). And if you want to read an Oprah book, read The Bluest Eye-There is depth there.
Most recent customer reviews
This book was very difficult to keep my interest. Aside from it being a depressing story, it had too many characters. I often found it difficult to keep track of who was who. Read morePublished on Nov. 9 2003 by ELD
My time is limited, thus I choose to read only books "worthy" of my time. My girlfriend gave me this book a month ago. Read morePublished on Sept. 23 2003
I had a love-hate relationship with this story as I read it. In the end, my verdict is that it was well-written with Morris' characters intricately formed. Read morePublished on Dec 19 2002 by Amazon Customer
I really, really wanted to dislike this book. Few of the characters were likeable, there were far more subplots than necessary, and as a previous reader noted, it could have easily... Read morePublished on March 20 2002 by Tanja L. Walker
The title made it seem so promising but it was not to be. If you like reading long, monotanous, novels with many characters (all lacking character)this is the book for you. Read morePublished on March 3 2002
I HATED this book. I couldn't stand any of the characters, and for me, that is the most important part of enjoying a book. Read morePublished on Feb. 1 2002
I have for the most part stayed away from Oprah's book club selections. I have found in general that the story lines are as follows.... Read morePublished on Jan. 29 2002 by Turnpike
This book was a terrible disappointment. It's decidedly anti-Catholic bent made for a disturbing read. Read morePublished on Jan. 21 2002
An extraordinary book, that begins and evolves slowly and as the story unfolds it seems terribly ordinary as in the title. Read morePublished on Dec 15 2001 by Marc North