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BLESSINGS by Anna Quindlen

BLESSINGS

By Anna Quindlen

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 2002
ISBN: 0-375-50223-8
Publisher: Random House

Fourth adult novel from Newsweek columnist Quindlen (Black and Blue, 1998, etc.), a story of lost souls redeemed by love.

A friend of Lydia Blessing’s once told her that there was a secret at the heart of every family and—predictably—it’s revealed that the Blessing family had dark secrets to spare. Eighty years old when the story begins, Lydia lives more in the past than present, haunted by memories. Her handsome, ne’er-do-well, secretly homosexual brother Sunny was a shotgun suicide; and Lydia’s long-ago marriage to Sunny’s best friend Ben Carton was a sham (madly in love with Sunny, Ben obligingly married his sister, though she was pregnant by another man, then conveniently died in WWII). Her charming father had evidently married her cold and disapproving mother mostly for money, and it turns out that Ethel Blessing, to all appearances a staunch Episcopalian, was actually Jewish. The family shuttled between Blessings, the enormous house on the vast New England estate that her father called his gentleman’s farm, and a Manhattan townhouse. Lydia and her brother attended the right schools, wore the right clothes, socialized with the right people, etc. Hoping to conceal the true paternity of her redheaded granddaughter (no, Ben really couldn’t manage sex with a woman), Ethel packed Lydia off to the Blessings, where she raised her daughter Meredith more or less alone and otherwise observed the rules and routines of upper-class WASPs. And so the decades rolled by and now Lydia makes do with the company of her cranky Korean housekeeper and the estate caretaker, Skip Cuddy, a drifter with a heart of gold who lives in the shabby apartment over her five-car garage. Nothing much changes—until a newborn baby is left on the doorstep. The caretaker moves her to his dresser drawer, figures out how to feed her, and names her Faith. And Lydia is shaken out of her genteel torpor at last.

As soap-opera-parable with old-fashioned contrivances: comfortable, not Quindlen’s best.