This is one of those books I read years ago, but the characters are still lingering about in my head. It's the 1960s and Rose finds herself unhappily married and unhappily pregnant. She flees her husband, mother, and life and arrives at St. Elizabeth's home for unwed mothers, where she plans to give birth and leave, but probably not to return to her husband, who doesn't even know she's pregnant.
The nuns and other expectant mothers at St. Elizabeth's turn out to provide healing that Rose didn't even realize she was seeking. She finds herself questioning her decisions and as she gets closer and closer to her due date, she's not sure what she'll do.
The baby is born and the book takes a not entirely unexpected turn, but it's one that works and doesn't feel like a convenient plot device. As the story continued, I found myself really puzzling over the characters and the decisions they had made and wondering where Patchett was going to eventually lead us all.
The ending was amazingly satisfying in that it left many things hanging dangerously and I found myself writing the next few chapters in my mind, each time with different results. Patchett carefully crafts a story that needs to end with a giant question mark and force the reader to decide what will happen after the final sentence. It's brilliant, although readers who like all lose ends tied up might feel cheated.
I love when an author creates a character that I believe is living and has walked in reality. Patchett does it with not only the main character, but the others in the book. I believed in them and understood their decisions, confusion, and fear. Some books you read; this one I devoured.
I really enjoyed this book. . until I reached the end. It leaves you wanting more, and not in a good way. Its like a really good movie that ends abruptly & without any sort of finality, and you're sitting there feeling completely gypped. If I had to sum this book up in one word, the word would be 'unsatisfying'.
This story revolves around the girls and the help at a home for unwed mothers. I really liked the characters and the way the author presented them with care and dignity.
Very compelling read--I love the way her characters are so well-rounded and two people can read the same book and have a very different reactions to the characters.
From Library Journal
Unanticipated pregnancy makes liars out of young women, this thoughtful first novel shows, as they try to rationalize, explain, and accept what is happening to them. When she arrives at St. Elizabeth's, a home for pregnant girls in Habit, Kentucky, Rose Clinton seems as evasive and deceptive as the other unwed mothers. But Rose is different: she has a husband whom she has deserted. Unlike most St. Elizabeth's visitors, she neither gives up her baby nor leaves the home, staying on as cook while her daughter grows up among expectant mothers fantasizing that they, too, might keep their infants. The reader learns from Rose how she came to St. Elizabeth's, but it is her doting husband and rebellious daughter who reveal her motives and helpless need for freedom. Together, the three create a complex character study of a woman driven by forces she can neither understand nor control.