SISTER NORTH by Jim Kokoris


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A burnt-out lawyer goes looking for a nun and finds a life instead, thanks to second-novelist Kokoris (The Rich Part of Life, 2000).

Sam Gamett is no Oliver Wendell Holmes: He rarely gets up before noon, and he likes to start his cocktail hour no later than three. When he married the ugly but wealthy daughter of the managing partner of Chicago’s biggest law firm, Sam felt pretty sure he could afford to take life easy. But disaster eventually struck: his wife went on a diet, lost 80 pounds, and dumped Sam overnight. For a while, he made a show of working at a small practice of his own (representing hypochondriacs, malingerers, and exhibitionists), but he was already fed up with the law by the time a disgruntled client burst into his office and tried to shoot him. While recovering, Sam started watching television’s Sister North, a nun who preached and offered advice to callers. And so now, unable to make sense of his own life, Sam jumps into his car and heads for Appleton, Wisconsin, to track down Sister North. When he arrives in Appleton, however, Sam learns that Sister North has disappeared some weeks ago and no one knows when she’ll return. Some say she’s doing mission work in Africa, others that she’s raising money for the mentally retarded in Pennsylvania. Sam cools his heels for a while in Appleton (a kind of open-air asylum for eccentrics on the order of John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces), where he manages to dry himself out, survive a tornado, and fall in love. By the time Sam actually meets Sister North, he doesn’t really need her help. Perhaps he never did.

A nice diversion, forgettable but fun: it has some great moments but tries to be a little too cute for comfort.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-312-27540-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2003


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