An emotionally exhaustive revisit with the two Irish-American families from Sandcastles (2006).
This time around, Rice turns her attention to Sister Bernadette (Bernie) Sullivan and Thomas (Tom) Kelly. Long before Sister Bernie took her vows, she and Tom were young lovers (see Sandcastles for backstory). While on a romantic holiday to Ireland connecting with their roots, Bernie and Tom shared a single night of passion. Bernie became pregnant. Tom wanted to keep the baby, but Bernie struggled between her calling to the church and her love for Tom. Ultimately, the baby was given up for adoption. Now, 20-odd years later, Tom and Bernie decide to fly to Dublin to track down their son, Seamus, and introduce themselves as his parents. At the reunion, Seamus wants nothing to do with the family that abandoned him and left him in a crowded orphanage. To make matters more complicated, the disastrous meeting stirs up old passions between Tom and Bernie. Their romantic détente ends and their friendship is irrevocably altered. Tom makes a final effort to win over Seamus before flying back to America. Grudgingly, Seamus accepts Tom’s help when Tom offers to use his influence to reunite Seamus with his lost love from the orphanage. With Tom’s help, Seamus tracks down his love in America. At this point, the plot spins wildly out of control as the author tosses in one melodramatic, outlandish event after another. Though a few new characters are sprinkled in, it’s impossible to care about them.
Rice, usually good at bringing to life the Irish landscape, this time falls flat.