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Songs in Ordinary Time (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – Aug 1996


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Paperback, Aug 1996
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Product details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Putnam Inc USA; Reprint edition (Aug. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140244824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140244823
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 3.2 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,383,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Review

‘A novel of epic, breathtaking scope and extraordinary ambition.’
Scotland on Sunday

‘Utterly absorbing and unusually poignant.’
Sunday Telegraph

‘Mary McGarry Morris is one of our finest writers.’
Miami Herald

‘Extraordinary and deeply satisfying.’
USA Today

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Mary McGarry Morris is the acclaimed author of A DANGEROUS WOMAN, chosen by Time as one of the five best novels of the year, and VANISHED, which was nominated for the National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner award.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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On the day that Duvall came Benjamin Fermoyle was twelve. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Mitchell on 28 Oct. 1999
Format: Paperback
This book reminds me of cross between Peyton Place and Short Cuts (The Robert Altman movie). These people put the fun in dysfunction. Well, it was fun to read. There is so much going on and all of it enthralling. When I ordered this book I had no idea it was 740 pages long. It sat around my house for a month before I decided to tackle it and when I started reading I could not put it down. I kept telling myself 50 more pages and I'll take a break, but 50 became 75 then 100 and I read this book in 3 days. It would make a great movie. If you enjoy reading, you'll enjoy this book.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By rachelbrimble@aol.com on 6 May 2000
Format: Paperback
I've read several of Oprah's recommendation and must say that this is the most disappointing so far. I felt that the storyline was really good, wondering what was coming next etc, but I still think could have been told in 400 pages or so. An okay read but nothing to get excited about.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 284 reviews
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
I CAN'T BELIEVE I READ THE WHOLE THING! 6 Feb. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book because I trusted Oprah's judgment, and I wanted a long book to get lost in during summer '99. Well, it is now February 2000. Through great discipline on my part, I'm finally finished. I feel gypped. There were so many extraneous characters, and their fates were never disclosed. Why introduce characters when they ultimately fizzle out? Why couldn't the author spend more time giving insight into the main characters? Reading this book made me feel voyeuristic. There was a lot of surface "dirt," and I was frustrated by not knowing what made the characters tick. The adults were despicable: sleazy Omar, irresponsible Sam, needy/abusive Marie (I'm no shrink - was she manic-depressive?), among other losers. However, my heart broke for the children. I truly cared about Alice, Norm and Benjy; and I was pleased that the story ended somewhat optimistically - for Alice, at least.
This book should come with a warning: Only read it if you're too happy. It's guaranteed to bring your mood down several notches.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
If you have patience... 23 Dec. 2002
By Theresa W - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you can get through the first 150 pages, you'll be happy you did. With a slow start, that's when the story really starts to pick up & you start to remember the characters, there's a lot of them! I agree with an earlier reviewer in that there were too many sub-plots & characters.
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.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A good book to read if you don't have a life of your own. 10 Jun. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Talk about a con job! I agree, too many characters. It doesn't feel like a full novel; it feels crowded, and that's a big difference. And how in the world can we appreciate any of the Fermoyles when they are so busy flip-flopping between rage and mindless affection. Morris tries to write it in different voices, but the third-person narrative doesn't work for this. Any interesting characters (like Father Gannon or Renie LaChance) just get dropped. Feels like the author is vastly out of control of this book, and it doesn't feel like that was her intention. Even the few good sections get drowned out. I read the whole thing, hoping that someone would learn something, and I was very disappointed to find that not a single person in the book changes at all. What a long story to tell about people who never learn or grow or change. The bad news is that it will probably get made into a movie.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Knowing the setting isn't everything 11 Jan. 1999
By B. Michael Harlow (BHarlow863@aol.com) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A friend who lives in nearby Rutland, Vermont, loaned me this book because she had loved it. I should trust her taste. I guess I'm a snob because knowing it was an "Oprah Book" and that its setting was Rutland, Vermont (thinly disguised as "Atkinson, VT") slowed down my beginning to read it; I'd had it for a year before guilt set me going once my friend had asked so much whether I'd started it yet. I loved it! It is not a layered piece of philosophic artistry, but the characters are so true and the honest striving of so many of them is so palpable that I'll buy a copy for my classroom library. These people are flawed, for sure, but most of them are striving mightily to live a good, moral life, especially Marie Fermoyle, whose kids probably see her as mean. But the novelist's keen and unflinching sympathies let us see a woman in a hard place trying to do right even if she does not always succeed. I found many scenes very profound emotionally, especially the scene where Benjy wants to drown [285--6] and the scene in which Benjy tells his brother Norm the truth [438]. Many of my favorite scenes involved Benjy, the youngest Fermoyle who just wants his mother to be happy, but who carries the load of so many secrets. I also loved occasional descriptions such as this: "Her perfume smelled of roses and wrinkled dollar bills." [502] The language does not often call attention to itself, but the characters are unfailingly well-observed and believable. There are enough psychologically complex but accessible characterizations to fill a family's social circle in a small city like Rutland. The book also unfolds slowly enough that a reader can really get the sense of the passage of time in the summer of 1960. I moved to Rutland ten years later in 1970, but it was still essentially the town from whose Catholic high school Morris had graduated in 1957. Knowing the geography, however, is not the main pleasure of the novel; its compassionate and accurate reach goes well beyond merely regional items.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Frustrating Read... 16 Feb. 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I had high hopes for this book, but it missed the mark. In fact, I was hard pressed to finish it. In Songs in Ordinary Time, it's 1960 in Atkinson, Vermont. The story centers on Marie Fermoyle and her children, Alice who is 16 years old and discovering her sexuality - first with the Police Chief's son and then with a visiting priest, Norm who is hot headed, and Benjy who is 12 years old - ignored by his family, and can't quite figure out what the shameful, nameless "sticky warmth" that unexpectedly appears in his pajama bottoms in the morning, so he sleeps in a towel.
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.
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