From Publishers Weekly
True love never dies—but it may need the helping hand of the Virgin Mary and the luck o' the Irish to survive in Rice's latest, effectively a sequel to last year's Sandcastles
. Sister Bernadette Ignatius (the former Bernie Sullivan), Mother Superior at the coastal Connecticut Star of the Sea Academy, travels to Dublin with Tom Kelly, the academy's ombudsman, seeking James, the son they gave up over 20 years ago. In a parallel narrative set up in a prologue, young James and Kathleen, raised together as orphans, are devastated when they are forced to separate when Kathleen is 13. While Bernie and Tom look for James (now calling himself Seamus), James searches for Kathleen, who pines for him in a Newport, R.I., mansion, where she is a cook and maid for an atrocious, wealthy family. Rice juices up the predictable plot line with miraculous visions, ghosts, convenient encounters and melodramatic twists of fate—yet the effects are still lukewarm, though there's guilt, redemption and three-hankie moments aplenty for those who stick it out to the end. (July)
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Rice returns to familiar haunts in her latest romantic family saga. She also reprises two characters from last year's Sandcastles (2006): Sister Bernadette, the superior at a girls' school in Connecticut, and Tom Kelly, the groundskeeper who has always loved her. They are on a mission, traveling to Dublin to locate the son they left with the sisters at a convent 23 years earlier, just before Bernie became a nun. Unbeknownst to Bernie and Tom, their son, James, was never placed with a loving family but instead lived a lonely life at the children's home, his only friend a girl his age, Kathleen, from whom he was separated when they were 13. Rice skillfully weaves together the stories of these two apparently doomed romances, shifting across time and continents, as Bernie and Tom try to reconnect with James, and as Kathleen, now working in America, waits for her first love to find her there. While a few hurdles are removed too conveniently, Rice's characters are engaging, compelling the reader to keep those pages turning until all loose threads are tied. Donovan, Deborah Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved