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What Matters Most [Mass Market Paperback]

Luanne Rice
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 July 2008
With every New York Times bestseller, Luanne Rice illuminates yet another of the secret wonders of the heart. Her unforgettable evocations of family, friendship, and loves lost and won in such novels as The Edge of Winter, Sandcastles, and Summer of Roses give voice to our most powerful emotions. Now she brings back two of her most beloved characters to tell of their journey across the sea to unravel the mysteries of a shared past—and two undying love affairs.…

What Matters Most

Sister Bernadette Ignatius has returned to Ireland in the company of Tom Kelly to search for the past—and the son—they left behind. For it was here that these two long-ago lovers spent a season of magic before Bernadette’s calling led her to a vocation as Mother Superior at Star of the Sea Academy on the sea-tossed Connecticut shore. For Tom, Bernadette’s choice meant giving up his fortune and taking the job as caretaker at Star of the Sea, where he could be close to the woman he could no longer have but whom he never stopped loving. And while one miracle drew them apart, another is about to bring them together again.

For somewhere in Dublin a young man named Seamus Sullivan is also on a search, dreaming of being reunited with his own first love, the only “family” he’s ever known. They’d been inseparable growing up together at St. Augustine’s Children’s Home, until Kathleen Murphy’s parents claimed her and she vanished across the sea to America. Now, in a Newport mansion, that very girl, grown to womanhood, works as a maid and waits with a faith that defies all reason for the miracle that will bring back the only boy she’s ever loved.

That miracle is at hand—but like most miracles, it can come only after the darkest of nights and the deepest of heartbreaks. For life can be as precarious as a walk along a cliff, and its greatest rewards reached only by those who dare to risk everything…for what matters most.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 459 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (1 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553589709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553589702
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 10.6 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 749,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars What matters most by Luanne Rice 11 Aug 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is so sensitive and beautifully written, especially on
religious matters, that even a non-Catholic finds it touching.
Romantic indeed and with no unnecessary lovescenes. A real
tearjerker in fact.
L.W. Close constant reader
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  41 reviews
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent - Luanne Rice at her very best 21 July 2007
By Maudeen Wachsmith - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I just now finished this fabulous book -- though I must admit I could barely read the last 30 pages I was crying/sobbing so hard!!! Honestly, I couldn't see the pages. I dropped everything else I was reading when this book arrived Thursday but really started reading it voraciously Friday night, read until 2 AM and then have been reading it all day today. This is the story of Sister Bernadette and Tom Kelly from Sandcastles and their trip to Ireland to try to find the son they gave up for adoption 23 years earlier. I will admit to being disappointed by several of Luanne Rice's recent books (although I did enjoy Sandcastles) but this is without a doubt the best Luanne Rice has done in years, even better than the Roses series from a couple years ago. There was a little plot device toward the end that I wish she hadn't used but honestly, I can forgive her for it since the over 330 pages were so fabulous; pulled at the heartstrings so magnificently. Two of the hallmarks of a GREAT book for me --- if it makes me cry/sob and if I can read it straight through without putting it down. This had both. Second only to A Thousand Splendid Suns as the best book I have read all year. And PLEASE if you are going to read this book do not read the one-star review by Jean DeVilbiss from July 19th. She gives a MAJOR SPOILER, one that isn't in the book until waaayyyy at the end. To give this in a review on Amazon is absolutely unconscionable--and I can only hope that Amazon takes it down before it is ruined for other readers.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting -- sort of 28 July 2007
By JessamynMarie - Published on
I loved the characters, the suspense, the aunguish. I don't always require a neat and tidy ending but was disappointed how it all turned out with Tom (that scene needed more detail, I found it unbelievable). Without writing a spoiler review, may I say: I wanted more for this character.

The questions that kept me reading: Would Bernie give up being a nun? Would Seamus and Kathleen reunite? Would all the characters reconcile? A good blend of apeal factors for me -- lots of "heart" the connection to Ireland, the various hopes each character had to get things right. At times melodramatic, but I couldn't put it down. I think my mother would love this; one of her favorite books is THORN BIRDS, which in some small way this resembles, at least in the Catholic appeal factors. Not that you have to be Catholic to enjoy it!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'd give it 10 stars if I could. 3 Sep 2007
By D. Latlip - Published on
I discovered Luanne Rice only early this year, and SANDCASTLES was the first of her books that I read. I liked it so much that I started backtracking, reading all of her books. She has become one of my favorite writers, although there are some early books that I don't care for too much (ANGELS ALL OVER TOWN for one). However, WHAT MATTERS MOST is the Luanne Rice book I'll be talking about with everyone I know. The characters are a Catholic with Irish roots, I felt a connection with the passion, loyalty, friendship, and love of these Irish characters. The intensity of their love for one another, the conflicting emotions of a nun whose femininity and human heart are revealed in ways many Catholics don't want to see or have been too indoctrinated in tradition to realize...powerful, emotional, heartrending stuff here. I couldn't put the book down, I could hardly see the last 30 or so pages through my tears, and I find myself dreaming of the characters as if they were real. As someone who grapples with the validity of certain mysticism in the Catholic tradition myself, I found that my mind was opened to the possibility of a faith that enormous and a heart that open. I am so impressed with Luanne Rice and WHAT MATTERS MOST that I plan to buy this book for all the women in my large, Irish Catholic family.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! 24 July 2008
By Barbara Thoren - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I decided to give Luanne Rice another chance after I trashed her book Blue Moon. What Matters Most is incredible. I loved it and would recommend it to anyone! What a great story! Just keep the kleenex handy; you will need it. Great job!
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What Matters are the choices made 13 Feb 2008
By Cecelia E Connally - Published on
I do a decent amount of driving so I listened to this book on CD. I commend the reader for a wonderful use of language and voices. But I must say if I were trying to read this book I would probably have given up. There is much significance to the title "What Matters Most" because what mattered most to Bernie - Sister Bernadette Ignatius - was her vocation. That decision to become a nun - supposedly because of a vision that she had - caused her to forsake her child and the love of her life. As the book went on, Bernie became more and more hollow and selfish. By the end of the book I came to dislike the character. With all of her so called holiness she wrecked the life of her son and the man who really loved her - all because she wanted to be a nun. If that were the case, how did she get pregnant in the first place. And how did Tom hang around all of those years? It didn't make sense.

I also found Tom and Bernie's love for their son hard to accept. For 23 years they never did any to check on his where abouts - they never called, wrote a letter or anything - they never confirmed that he was with the so called loving family. Bernie was in the same order - she could have found out something. With the influence Tom's family had, they could have placed the child themselves - it just didn't make sense. I also found it hard to believe that the convent took Bernie in after knowing that she had a baby and when she moved to America and became the mother superior - another fact I found hard to believe - her "ex" lived right there on the grounds.

For the true romantic maybe the plot is believable, but to me what matters most is believable characters. These weren't.
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