Books by Mary Pat Kelly

OF IRISH BLOOD by Mary Pat Kelly
Released: Feb. 3, 2015

"In a novel so awed by the great and near-great, ordinary human characters are outgunned."
An Irish-American from Chicago, fleeing an abusive relationship, moves to Paris on the eve of World War I. Read full book review >
GALWAY BAY by Mary Pat Kelly
Released: Feb. 9, 2009

"A satisfying tale, with few surprises for those who know the territory, but no false steps."
Historically accurate epic of the Irish potato famine veers into gothic romance territory but keeps its eye on the Fenian prize. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 22, 1998

First novel by an Irish-American former nun that's more a spirited reprise of the Roman Catholic Church's response to the spiritual and temporal changes of the 1960s than an engrossing tale of a young nun's growing disillusionment with convent life. Margaret Mary Lynch, who narrates her own story, wants to make her life count'so, in 1962, after graduating from high school, she enters the convent of the Sisters of Redemption. These are the same Sisters who run the school she'd attended in the Chicago suburb where she lived with her large Irish-American family. Two uncles are priests; the others all dabble in politics of one kind or another—and, given the time and the place, it's no surprise that the politics are Democratic and the loyalties fierce, especially to John F. Kennedy. Margaret Mary, soon to be called Sister Maura, vividly details convent life, as well as the various stages an aspiring nun must attain before making her final vows. Spirited and unconventional, she finds it difficult to observe some of the rules—for example, being allowed to write only one letter a month to her family. As she moves up the religious ladder while attending college, she reacts to the great changes of the era: Pope John's new dispensations, the Kennedy assassination, the civil rights marches. By the time she has earned her degree and been sent on a mission to a Chicago inner-city school run by the order, Margaret still feels that being a nun offers the best chance to make a difference. But the senior nuns' reactions to the Chicago riots after Martin Luther King's death change her attitude. Offended by their racial prejudice and sent to teach in a white suburb, instead of where she might really help, Margaret leaves the order—as soon do many other sisters, she learns years later. However worthy its intentions, the author's narrative makes Margaret seem more self-absorbed Boomer than believer agonizing over her vocation. The result seems too light a take on a heavy subject. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1991

Kelly's second book on the acclaimed director has the same patchwork quality as her Martin Scorsese: The First Decade (1980- -not reviewed). Billed as an ``oral history,'' it's really a compendium of quotations from Scorsese and his friends, family, and collaborators. Still, despite the limitations of the genre, Kelly manages to elicit some valuable production history and interpretive comments from her many interviewees, who range from Scorsese's ever- loquacious parents to the usually tight-lipped Robert De Niro, with whom Scorsese has created some of the greatest films of our time, from Mean Streets and Taxi Driver through Raging Bull and Goodfellas. Many of the actors who have worked with Scorsese celebrate here his remarkable directorial style, as do the technicians who marvel at his mastery of the form and his meticulous preparation. Others testify to his absolute devotion to the movies, a fervor matched by the religious intensity in many of his films. Kelly, who studied to become a nun, no doubt overworks the priestliness of Scorsese's vocation in her own prose interludes, much as she spends too much time detailing her personal encounters with the director. (Photos by her husband include two of her and Scorsese.) And the platitudes here by studio execs (Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Eisner) are particularly worthless, as are the testimonial-dinner remarks that pass for forewords by Scorsese's director friends Steven Spielberg and Michael Powell. Vague references to personal problems in Scorsese's life remind us how little these interviews tell us about the man. That's exactly the sort of identity crisis this book suffers from—it aspires to critical seriousness but delivers mostly starlust. Read full book review >