Book Reviews of Songs in Ordinary Time

Songs in Ordinary Time
Songs in Ordinary Time
Author: Mary McGarry Morris
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ISBN-13: 9780140244823
ISBN-10: 0140244824
Publication Date: 8/1/1996
Pages: 752
Rating:
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 350

3.4 stars, based on 350 ratings
Publisher: Penguin
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

63 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

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Helpful Score: 16
Be warned this book is long and contains nearly as many characters as a Dickens novel. I felt let down and extremely disappointed with this book - it was almost as if Morris had given up trying to move the plot along around page 600. There was so much potential in each one of the multiple storylines, but nothing, to me, panned out. A few things still stick with me, most notably the gentleman making crude phone calls and the woman who spoke to him. Not really recommended unless you like stopping books part-way through.
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Helpful Score: 14
A fascinating story about a poor and lonely woman who tried to raise 3 kids with an alcoholic husband. It described her pain and frustration very realistically living in a small town... The plot was amazing, taking the reader through a forbidden romance and a crime as well as other family mishaps. McGarry Morris painted an overall sense of urgency and hopelessness that made you feel sorry for the characters. I was easily pulled into the plot and I had trouble putting it down until I got to the end!
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Helpful Score: 13
I loved this book. In the beginning I felt a little overwhelmed with
the number of characters being introduced so quickly. I thought I would never be able to keep them straight. I was completely wrong the author has a wonderful way of including the reader in her story. I could not wait to get home from work to read this book. I liked it so much I even considered caling out of work so I can finish it. A great read
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Helpful Score: 8
An excellent read. You will g et caught up in the dynamics of the Fermoyle family. You will wonder how anything good can come from so much disfunction yet I found it to be a story of survival and triumph.
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Helpful Score: 7
I adored this book and just couldn't put it down. Morris really delves into the characters. You don't want it to end.
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Helpful Score: 7
Yikes, I am not sure how I felt about this book. I really liked it, and yet, was so disgusted by the stupidity of the characters. But I couldn't stop reading...a weird plot...a con man selling soap to the whole neighborhood, a woman falling in love with this charlatan at the expense of her children, weird in-laws. Just couldn't put it down.
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Helpful Score: 4
A fascinating story about a poor and lonely woman who tries to raise 3 kids with an alcoholic husband, describing her pain and frustration very realistically living in a small town. The plot takes the reader through a forbidden romance, a crime, as well as other family mishaps. McGarry Morris painted an overall sense of urgency and hopelessness that made you feel sorry for the characters.

I was easily pulled into the plot and I had trouble putting it down until I got to the end!
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Helpful Score: 3
It might be "ordinary time", but these aren't ordinary people. Interesting characters.
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Helpful Score: 3
very good, but slow at times
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Helpful Score: 3
This was really hard for me to read for some reason. Writing wise.
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Helpful Score: 3
I couldn't put this book down. Very interesting but depressing, too.
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Helpful Score: 3
I read this book a long time ago, but it left me feeling a little blue.
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Helpful Score: 2
wow..really really good.
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Helpful Score: 2
Very interesting. A tale of everyday life in one family.
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Helpful Score: 2
Interesting family saga.
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Helpful Score: 2
Just couldn't get into this book.
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Helpful Score: 2
I loved this book. Marie comes under the spell of a dangerous con man while trying to raise her children and deal with an alcoholic husband. Good read!
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Helpful Score: 2
This is a great book as all of Oprah's Book Club selections seem to be. It takes place on the 1960s and tells of a single parent family trying to get by.
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Helpful Score: 1
just couldn't get into it.
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Helpful Score: 1
For me this book drug on and on...I had to work to get through it. It was disappointing that it wouldn't get moving more and their were a ton of different characters to keep track of, which in the beginning drove me crazy. So I wasn't too excited by this book, but did finish it after a week.
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Helpful Score: 1
great book, full of suspense as well as a hefty dose of wisdom.it is a masterful story of the everyday, telling a compelling story of an unforgettable family
reviewed Songs in Ordinary Time on
Helpful Score: 1
Oprah's book club list...great book!
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Helpful Score: 1
This is a book with great writing and description of difficult and complicated lives. I was really disappointed in the ending, even though it was probably more realistic an ending than most novels. I just expected a little justice. The descriptions of the people, the weather, the houses, are so clear you can practically smell and taste every (mostly gross) thing she describes.
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Helpful Score: 1
I enjoyed this book. Well written, with fleshed out characterizations of the fictional people and great conflict, which makes you wonder what will happen next throughout the book.
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Helpful Score: 1
I just could not get into this book. I found the writing style confusing. It was hard to keep the various characters straight and I had to fight to make the connections. I have read most of the Oprah Book Club books and loved them, but this one I could barely start and did not finish.
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Helpful Score: 1
Excellent book- coming of age, a mother wanting love, but also what is best for her children. A con-man, a priest, a lonely business man, an alcoholic (not all in one character).
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This is a four cassette abridged reading.
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A real life cruise of samall-town USA with the top down and the volume up. In her graphic, stiletto chapters, Mary McGarry Morris is a cross between Elizabeth Gaskett and David Lynch." Minneapolis Star Tribune
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This novel tells the story of the down-and-out Fermoyle faily. Living in Vermont in the 1960s, Marie Fermoyle and her three children live in poverty and desperation, for more money, more security, and more affection. Marie Fermoyle, a hardened cynic, is so desperate for all of the above that she falls victim to the wiles of a con man. The Fermoyle children are blatantly aware that their mother is being fleeced, but the emotional distance of all the family members makes it difficult for any of them to communicate or to trust one another. As Marie falls deeper under her now-boyfriend's spell it is the Fermoyle children who feel this lack of communication most acutely. The most difficult character in this book is Marie Fermoyle: cold, cynical, and emotionally abusive towards her children, Marie is clearly a woman who has been deeply wounded and is now striking back, albeit at the wrong people. In this book Morris has crafted a deeply complex narrative with fantastic chracter development. Truly, she has created a whole world in this Vermont town. The characters' lives are richly interwoven with one another, and actions by one reverberate to affect the whole. This is a deeply moving and engaging novel.
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Please be aware that this is the bookcassette edition and requires a tape player with full balance control (or headphone adapter).
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Unabridged "Bookcassette edition - 10 cassettes -30 hours run time!

I'm not even going to pretend I listened to this book, my wife did! Since it was on Oprah'd Book Club Selections, she got it. She enjoyed it! (so she says)

"The story is set in Arkinson, a working class town in Vermont with ordinary people living ordinary lives. But, all is not as it seems for this is a town of hidden passions, petty jealousies, private shames, and secret ambitions. A town where lilacs bloom and spirits wither, quietly, behind closed doors."
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When you start this one you just can't put it down untill you are done.
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From Our Editors
Morris, author of A Dangerous Woman, explores the relationship between a trusting, needy divorcée and a shady con man. Raising her children without any support from her alcoholic ex-husband, Marie Fermoyle is lured into Omar Duvall's trap by the glint of promised riches. Marie and her children, troubled by their shabby existence, are no match for Omar's manipulations. Read by the author.

Annotation
A powerfully absorbing novel from the acclaimed author of A Dangerous Woman and Vanished. Set in the summer of 1960--the last of quiet times and America's innocence--this story centers on Marie Fermoyle, a strong but vulnerable Irishwoman, whose loneliness and ambition for her children make her easy prey for a dangerous con-man.

From the Publisher
Songs in Ordinary Time is set in the summer of 1960 - the last of quiet times and America's innocence. It centers on Marie Fermoyle, a strong but vulnerable divorced woman whose loneliness and ambition for her children make her easy prey for the dangerous con man Omar Duvall. Marie's children are Alice, seventeen - involved with a troubled young priest; Norm, sixteen - hotheaded and idealistic; and Benjy, twelve - isolated and misunderstood, and so desperate for his mother's happiness that he hides the deadly truth only he knows about Duvall. Among a fascinating cast of characters we meet the children's alcoholic father, Sam Fermoyle, now living with his senile mother and embittered sister; Sam's meek brother-in-law, who makes anonymous "love" calls from the bathroom of his failing appliance store; and the Klubock family, who - in complete contrast to the Fermoyles - live an orderly life in the perfect house next door.

From The Critics
Publishers Weekly
As she proved in her first novel, Vanished, and in the equally compelling A Dangerous Woman, Morris can depict society's outsiders-people with bleak presents and no futures-with rare understanding and compassion. Here, she portrays an entire community, a small town in Vermont during the summer of 1960, and then focuses on one family, the Fermoyles. With no support from her alcoholic ex-husband Sam, Marie Fermoyle has struggled for eight years to raise her three children. She is sharp-tongued, bitter, resentful and driven nearly to distraction by unending money worries and her own shame at being a poor divorce in a staunchly Catholic town. The arrival of mysterious Omar Duvall with his con man's spiel of sudden riches brings Marie hope that she can change her dead-end existence. Among the 30 or so characters, there are no happy people: in fact, at first, one thinks this will be just an unbroken litany of sour, wasted lives, people mired in frustration and desperation, hiding tawdry secrets. But, although the exposition is long and leisurely, one is soon caught in the web of Morris's narrative, particularly in Marie's manipulation by Duvall, who sponges off the family while appearing to offer Marie the love she desperately craves. Meanwhile, her children-teenaged Alice and Norm, and fearful 12-year-old Benjy-are out-matched by the oily Omar, and they undergo their own torments as adolescents shamed by their parents and miserably conscious of their poverty. Innocent Benjy holds a secret so terrible he doesn't even fathom it until it is almost too late to avert tragedy. Morris weaves the taut strands of her plot with remarkable skill, revealing how people with no financial security and few mental resources are controlled by others more feral and more dangerous. Throughout, she maintains the suspense triggered by a dead body in the woods, and she pries open a Pandora's box of secrets, including double lives and the hypocrisy that masks sin behind piety. This novel becomes more powerful as one reads, building to a heartstopping denouement, yet remaining strictly observant of the minutiae of daily life that give the book its honesty and pathos.

Library Journal



These charaters have hopes and dreams, very similar to our own.
Songs in Ordinary Time often seems to be a quite simple and ordinary story about simple, troubled people but the underlying originality of these characters and how easily they relate to the reader will pull you in. From the first paragraphs of this story, readers will be intrigued by the interesting lives and stories where mysteries are left unsaid and the readers imagination is left to wonder. This is a story with multiple viewpoints of an entire community of people whose lives and decisions overlap each others in interesting and surprising ways. Readers will find themselves pulled into every aspect of these characters lives as they relate to them. All the characters in this book have the same underlying desires in life: the desire to make their way in the world the desire to do something great with their life the need to make a good living for themselves and their families and to find happiness and love. These simple qualities and desires every character hopes for in different, interesting, and beautiful ways. Once you start reading this book you cant stop without knowing whether or not these characters will fulfill their hopes, dreams and desires. Every character is searching and is on such a different path in life that will keep the pages turning. Part of the enjoyment of reading this book is to watch and grow with the characters and to discover how to find enjoyment in a seemingly uninteresting period of their lives.
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This book was good, but not as good as all the hype, IMO.
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"A gritty, beautifully crafted novel rich in wisdom and suspense . . . secures Morris's status as one of our finest American writers."
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I thouroughly enjoyed this book and wished it didn't end! This is a great story about everyday life.
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This was an Oprah book club selection. This was just okay, not one of my favorites.
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A gritty,beautifully crafted novel rich in wisdom and suspense
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In the summer of 1960 in Atkinson, Vermont, Marie Fremoyle is a strong but vulnerable divorced woman whose loneliness and ambition for her childres make her easy prey for con man Omar Duvall. Marie's children are Alice, 17, involved with a young priest, Norm, 16, hotheaded and idealistic, and Benjy, 12 - isolated and misunderstood, and so desperate for his mother's happiness that he hides the deadly truth he knows about Duvall. We also meet Sam Fermoyle, the childrens' alcoholic father; Sam's brother-in-law, who make anonymous "love" calls from the bathroom of his appliance store, and the Klubock family, who live an orderly life in the house next door.
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This is a great book! I love stories of families that are real!
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I really enjoyed this one.
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Very good book -- very engrossing!
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Songs in Ordinary Time is an epic of the everyday, illuminating the kaleidoscope of lives that tell the compelling story of this unforgettable family.
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From Amazon.com
Oprah Book Club® Selection, June 1997: A dark secret lies at the heart of Mary McGarry Morris's extraordinary novel, Songs in Ordinary Time. Rooted in the delicate web of emotions, lies, and truths that bind people together, the story takes place in the primarily Catholic town of Atkinson, Vermont, during the summer of 1960. Here Marie Fermoyle struggles to raise her three children. She already has two strikes against her: she married above her station and now is divorced from her alcoholic husband, Sam. That he is the town drunk and a laughingstock only further marks the Fermoyles..." "Songs in Ordinary Time includes a chorus of other Atkinson inhabitants: town cop Sonny Stoner and his dying wife; insurance salesman Bob Haddad, so enthralled with his beautiful wife that he's willing to steal for her; and Father Gannon, the young priest with whom Marie's daughter Alice becomes involved; and the Klubock family next door, who epitomize all that is normal to young Benjy. With these lives threaded through her bittersweet tale of the Fermoyles, Morris strikes all the notes of loneliness, hope, and familial love."
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It's the summer of 1960 in Atkinson, Vermont. Marie Fermoyle is a strong but vulnerable divorced woman whose loneliness and ambition for her children make her easy prey for dangerous con man Omar Duvall. Marie's children are Alice, seventeen-involved with a young priest; Norm, sixteen-hotheaded and idealistic; and Benjy, twelve-isolated and misunderstood, and so desperate for his mother's happiness that he hides the deadly truth he knows about Duvall...
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Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris is about a family touched by alcoholism, the Fermoyles. The father is a ne'er-do-well drunk and as totally unlovable as can be. He is obnoxious and sloppy and violent when he's drunk and Marie Fermoyle had to get herself out of that marriage. She and her children struggle on alone in the same town, suffering the indignities and embarrassment of the drunken father staggering around. There are lots of interesting characters in this book and each has a tale of their own. All of their lives are threaded together in a way that wasn't cumbersome to follow at all. A con man arrives in town...and there's a murder ... I just loved reading this book! It's not a quick read but well worth it!
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Read this when you have time to give it your undivided attention. A little difficult to get through.
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A gritty, beautifully crafted novel rich in wisdom and suspense....
Secures Morris's status as one of our finest american writer's..
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is deep and thick as a long,hot summer, a fully realized world. Rich in wisdom and suspence
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This book was a masterpiece!
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I could not put this book down. It was very well written and kept drawing me to read more. This author is amazing!
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Amazon.com: "Oprah Book Club® Selection, June 1997: A dark secret lies at the heart of Mary McGarry Morris's extraordinary novel, Songs in Ordinary Time. Rooted in the delicate web of emotions, lies, and truths that bind people together, the story takes place in the primarily Catholic town of Atkinson, Vermont, during the summer of 1960. Here Marie Fermoyle struggles to raise her three children. She already has two strikes against her: she married above her station and now is divorced from her alcoholic husband, Sam. That he is the town drunk and a laughingstock only further marks the Fermoyles.
Enter Omar Duvall, a confidence man. He comes to the door asking for bread and sees an opportunity. Soon he has insinuated himself into the Fermoyle family, promising Marie companionship, love, a willing pair of shoulders to share her burden. Twelve-year-old Benjy knows something terrible about Duvall, but, desperate for anything that will make his mother happy, he hides the truth. This silence gives Duvall time to bring Marie to the brink of financial disaster and lead her sons into mortal danger.

Songs in Ordinary Time includes a chorus of other Atkinson inhabitants: town cop Sonny Stoner and his dying wife; insurance salesman Bob Haddad, so enthralled with his beautiful wife that he's willing to steal for her; and Father Gannon, the young priest with whom Marie's daughter Alice becomes involved; and the Klubock family next door, who epitomize all that is normal to young Benjy. With these lives threaded through her bittersweet tale of the Fermoyles, Morris strikes all the notes of loneliness, hope, and familial love."
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Well-written but depressing story of a hard-luck family in small-town Vermont at the end of the 1950s who fall afoul of a creepy confidence man. Full of deception, death, and lies, the book is full of gathering darkness and a sense of doom.
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Excellent book!
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This was a long meaty novel and it was terrific! MMM's writing is so well done that sometimes I had to reread sentences just to let them sink in. Her characters are so well developed, you can just picture everything. Love her books and this was one of her best!
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From the back cover..."It's the summer of 1960 in Atkinson, Vermont. Marie Fermoyle is a strong but vulnerable divorced woman whose loneliness and ambition for her children make her easy prey for dangerous con man Omar Duvall. Marie's children are Alice, seventeen-involved with a young priest; Norm,sixteen-hotheaded and idealistic; and Benjy, twelve-isolated and misunderstood, and so desperate for his mother's happiness that he hides the deadly truth he knows about Duvall."
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Couldn't finish this one. I tried for almost 3 years to read it, but I just couldn't.
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I bit hard for me to read but was worth it in the end
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I am so glad I discovered this author. She is a phenomenal writer.
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Oprahs Book Club! Quoting from the back cover. "An extraordinary novel. Deeply satisfying story, grace and poetry. A gritty crafted novel rich in wisdom and suspense."
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its the summer of 1960 in vermont.marie fermoyle is a strong but vulnerable divorced woman whose loniless and ambition for her children make her easy prey for dangerous con man omar duvall.marie's children are alice,17-involved with a young priest:norm,16-hotheaded and idealistic:benjy,12-isolated and misunderstood,and so despreate for his mothers happiness that he hides the deadly truth he knows about duvall.we also meet sam fermoyle,the childrens alcoholic father,sam's brother -in-law,who makes anonymous love calls from the bathroom of his failing appliance store,and the klubock family,who-in contrast to the fermoyles-live an orderly life in the house next door.
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(from the back cover) This is a story about Marie Fermoyle, a vulnerable divorced woman whose loneliness and ambition for her children make her easy prey for dangerous con man Omar Duvall. The book is a masterful epic of the everyday, illuminating the kaleidoscope of lives that tell the compelling story of this unforgettable family.
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bottom left corner of book in front needed a little scotch tape for reinforcement. Oprahs Book Club books are always special in their own way.