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Publisher's Summary

St. Elizabeth's is a home for unwed mothers in the 1960s. Life there is not unpleasant, and for most, it is temporary. Not so for Rose, a beautiful, mysterious woman who comes to the home pregnant but not unwed. She plans to give up her baby because she knows she cannot be the mother it needs.
But St. Elizabeth's is near a healing spring, and when Rose's time draws near, she cannot go through with her plans, not all of them. And she cannot remain forever untouched by what she has left behind...and who she has become in the leaving.
©1992 Ann Patchett (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers
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Critic Reviews

"Thoughtful....a complex character study." (Library Journal)
"In an assured, warm, and graceful style, a moving novel that touches on the healing powers of chance sanctuaries of love and fancy in the acrid realities of living." (Kirkus Reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Carol T. Carr on 05-11-10

Well-crafted, Painful But Worth Finishing

I dislike books where there are no likable characters - unfortunately this is one. While there are many characters that evoke sympathy from the reader, the book overall is a depiction of one unfortunate character after another passing through life with their own struggle, each isolated in a unique way. It would have been helpful to have shown the reason for this more clearly -- certainly the ending doesn't do it. But there is just no getting around the fact that it is a sad story.
That said, it is well-written and well-crafted. Patchett has taken difficult subject matter and woven a story through the viewpoint of three characters, each a unique voice. The weaving together of their lives is honest and believable. The story is rich in symbolism that remains subtle throughout.
I could have bailed out several times along the way, but I kept coming back, intrigued to know "what happened next." I'm glad I lasted to the end. The ending may be less than satisfying but then the entire story is. Nevertheless it does provide an ultimate resolution that it would be a shame to miss.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful


By Deborah on 04-24-08

Incomplete

I liked this book but yet was disappointed. Reading other reviews one in particular stuck in my mind and I agree with it. I don't like people like Rose in real life and I didn't like this character. I couldn't understand how she could do those things to the most important people in her life. And, I couldn't understand how the people around Rose could love a person like her so much when she offered so little emotionally to them. I may have missed the point (am not sure if I got it or not) but they were all liars in one way or another so I guess they could overlook this. I was waiting for some kind of revelation to Cecelia at the end of the book and was disappointed when her father just kind of left. I felt I was left hanging by the "sign from God" explanation - I just didn't get it.

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25 of 27 people found this review helpful

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