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The Sabbathday River Paperback – 4 Feb 2000


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Paperback, 4 Feb 2000
£34.11 £0.07



Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books; New edition edition (4 Feb 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033035373X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330353731
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 11.4 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,431,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Jean Hanff Korelitz was raised in New York City and graduated from Dartmouth College and Clare College, Cambridge. She is the author of the novels A JURY OF HER PEERS (1996), THE SABBATHDAY RIVER (1999), THE WHITE ROSE (2005) and ADMISSION (2009), as well as a children's novel, INTERFERENCE POWDER (2003) and a book of poems, THE PROPERTIES OF BREATH (1988),

She has contributed articles and essays to many magazines, including Vogue, Real Simple, Newsweek, Reader's Digest, More and Travel and Leisure (Family), and the anthologies Modern Love and Because I Said So. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey with her husband, Princeton professor Paul Muldoon, and their children, and works full time as a writer and part time as a chauffeur (i.e. mom).

In 2006 and 2007 she worked for Princeton's Office of Admission as an outside reader.

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First Sentence
THE FIRST BABY WAS FOUND EARLY ON A WEEK-end morning in September, 1985, as the whole broad length of the Upper Valley braced for its annual riptide of strangers, and as the first maples on the banks of the Sabbathday River prepared to burst, obligingly, into flame. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Excellant development of three-dimensional characters which is not usual in 'who-dunnits'. Sabbathday River explores how well we understand the people around us instead of accepting their projection of themselves. The mystery of the Sabbathday River baby is the thread which links the characters and is used lightly but strongly throughout the book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 49 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A gripping read 5 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book got under my skin. I found myself putting it down and walking away from it because I was so irritated by a character's behavior. That's how I knew that the author had written a great character--one does not inwardly argue with a character that one does not find believable. I would point out to some of the other reviewers that the book is set in 1984, which was prior to DNA evidence being admissible in trials, I think.
The thing that I loved most about this book was its focus on the myths of sisterhood. In some people's version of a perfect world, women would look out for the interests of women, but since we're humans first, we have all the same faults as men. Thus, as Naomi finds out, the women of Goddard do not rally to the cause of Heather and see her as a victim of patriarchy. They judge her within their culturally conservative context. It's only Naomi, with her utopian visions of feminist collectives, who has to find out that women aren't supportive of other women just because they share a gender.
I thought this book was well-written, well-paced, and well-plotted.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
One you can sink into and be riveted by! 4 Feb 2001
By Kcorn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book has some very minor flaws but I still had to give it 5 stars and here's why: This is one of those rare books that is so well-written and so engrossing that it is impossible to put down. I absolutely hated to finish it. At the heart of the book, is the murder of 2 babies, who may or may not be related and the trial of a woman who may be falsely accused, even though the evidence seems to point to her as the murderer. Behind the main story, however, are the kinds of details that make a book truly come alive, revealing deeper and deeper layers of complexity and mystery as the story unfolds. There is so much here to hold the reader - the descriptions of small town life, characters which are not stereotypical, portrayals of women searching for their identity in the rather constricted community they inhabit. Finally, there is the story itself, which is gripping, intriguing and horrifying. One of my favorite books of the year!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
AN UNFORGETTABLE BOOK 2 Feb 2000
By redrobin47 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As an English teacher in a high school, I am always interested in finding wonderful contemporary novels -- by women -- for my students. This novel was impossible to put down, and in addition, I found that I wanted to savor each word, and I read it very slowly, an unusual feat for me, since I tend to devour my books in one bite. The characterization of the protagonist was real and the events through which she lived, riveting! The novel strode toward a climax of high power. I am recommending it to my book group, and to whomever I meet. Not since THE SHIPPING NEWS have I been so taken with a novel!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Compelling and infuriating 24 Aug 2001
By Thomas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It speaks for the compelling character of this novel that I felt myself torn between loving it and considering putting it down for good (I did persevere and was rewarded with a stunning ending!).
The author does know how to write at a level that transcends the average mystery/courtroom drama fare. With that, however, comes an oftentimes overbearing pretension of literacy that makes this book at times hard to digest if not outright boring (particularly, the first 200 pages could have been trimmed by a good 50%--editor person, where art thou!).
Most glaringly, the author seems incapable of covering some of the basics of novel construction such as creating characters the reader cares about and becomes attached to (In all fairness, the characters seem to become fairly indifferent toward each other as well--so, perhaps this is intentional). While making an effort at drawing reasonably multi-dimensional women, the male characters are flat stick figures who seem to serve as nothing more than drones to populate the story's landscape wherever inevitable. For all of here concern for women's issues, this author has no clue about men!
Outside of the story line, the author meanders into all kinds of side areas, such as feminist ardor, liberal-cause pet peeves, Jewish paranoia, atheist despair and general interpersonal alienation (the protagonist lives in an area where she makes no friend in 9 years, yet somehow manages to leave pregnant without a partner anyway--go figure!). With the exception of a lively Passover discussion (which gains significance in the final resolution of the drama), most of these seem gratuitous and ultimately pointless pretensions at literary significance. Lighten up, young poetess!
The book's best writing occurs in the coutroom scenes. Although the tenacity of the ADA in light of a clearly unpromising case appears not very credible (par for the course with the way male characters are portrayed!), the legal drama goes through some fascinating twists and turns. The mystery is ultimately resolved outside of the courtroom--in a fashion which left this reader fairly disturbed long after putting the book down!
This book clearly aims higher than your standard legal drama. At best, it achieves a greater depth and more daring in the issues it tackles. More often though, it simply blunders more dramatically and frequently than less ambitious and self-conscious/pretencious efforts. Still, between the highs and the lows there's enough there for a middle-of-the-road three star rating.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"The Scarlet Letter" meets Turow, Grisham, et al. 28 Jan 2002
By Luan Gaines - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll begin this review with two words: Hester Prynne. The recipient of the "scarlet letter" comes to mind as soon as Heather Pratt's love affair and pregnancy becomes the central theme of the story. This novel is a strange brew of three particular women: Naomi (who finds the tiny victims), a (nominal) Jewish feminist collective manager, recently divorced; Judith, a (practicing) Jewish feminist lawyer who becomes Heather's advocate in court; and Heather, an isolated, naïve young woman involved in an obsessive affair with a serial adulterer.
Raised by her grandmother after her own mother abandoned her, Heather's obsession with the pony-tailed Ashley often renders her seemingly simple-minded, her inability to judge her actions with respect to others almost sociopathic. Heather flaunts her affair and openly carries Ashley's child at the same time his own wife is pregnant. A small town is the stage for this drama, Heather the fuel for gossip. When an infant is discovered facedown in the Sabbathday River, all fingers point to Heather. At this point, Naomi, Heather's employer, asks her friend Judith to represent the hapless girl.
But not to worry, all bigotry is laid bare in the courtroom, thanks to Judith's incisive mind and the duplicity of the prosecutor. So many variables are tossed into the ring during the trial, that THE SCARLET LETTER morphs into high courtroom dudgeon. Each mean-spirited and misguided citizen is flayed during the trial by a merciless Judith.
I don't want to spend too much time on a novel that is such a bubbling stew of far too many issues, which actually inhibit its potential. In its fashion, THE SABBATHDAY RIVER is a page-turner, but there are too many problems barely resolved by the last page, which has an improbable and abrupt ending. As well, the premise for Heather's indictment is absurd. A criminal case must meet certain standards to proceed, and this case is ludicrous. SABBATHDAY RIVER is plot-driven, rather than character-driven. I would have enjoyed it more had the author spent some time on character development.
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