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The Cliffs: Reese's Book Club: A novel (Hardcover)

The Cliffs: Reese's Book Club: A novel By J. Courtney Sullivan Cover Image
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REESE'S BOOK CLUB PICK • A novel of family, secrets, ghosts, and homecoming set on the seaside cliffs of Maine, by the New York Times best-selling author of Friends and Strangers

“A stunning achievement, and J. Courtney Sullivan’s best book yet. Sullivan weaves a narrative that’s fascinating and thought-provoking. I literally could not put this book down.”
—Ann Napolitano, New York Times best-selling author of Hello Beautiful

On a secluded bluff overlooking the ocean sits a Victorian house, lavender with gingerbread trim, a home that contains a century’s worth of secrets. By the time Jane Flanagan discovers the house as a teenager, it has long been abandoned. The place is an irresistible mystery to Jane. There are still clothes in the closets, marbles rolling across the floors, and dishes in the cupboards, even though no one has set foot there in decades. The house becomes a hideaway for Jane, a place to escape her volatile mother.

Twenty years later, now a Harvard archivist, she returns home to Maine following a terrible mistake that threatens both her career and her marriage. Jane is horrified to find the Victorian is now barely recognizable. The new owner, Genevieve, a summer person from Beacon Hill, has gutted it, transforming the house into a glossy white monstrosity straight out of a shelter magazine. Strangely, Genevieve is convinced that the house is haunted—perhaps the product of something troubling Genevieve herself has done. She hires Jane to research the history of the place and the women who lived there. The story Jane uncovers—of lovers lost at sea, romantic longing, shattering loss, artistic awakening, historical artifacts stolen and sold, and the long shadow of colonialism—is even older than Maine itself.

Enthralling, richly imagined, filled with psychic mediums and charlatans, spirits and past lives, mothers, marriage, and the legacy of alcoholism, this is a deeply moving novel about the land we inhabit, the women who came before us, and the ways in which none of us will ever truly leave this earth.

About the Author

J. COURTNEY SULLIVAN is the best-selling author of the novels Commencement, Maine, The Engagements, Saints for All Occasions, and Friends and Strangers. Her work has been translated into seventeen languages. Sullivan's writing has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, New York, Elle, Glamour, Allure, Real Simple, and O, The Oprah Magazine, among many others. In 2017, she wrote the forewords to new editions of two of her favorite classic novels—Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two children.

Praise For…

Named a Best Book of the Month by The New York Times, Real Simple, and Kirkus

“Lovely and lively… In J. Courtney Sullivan’s latest treasure of a novel, The Cliffs, the house is itself a major character… Shot through with empathy and humor… Sullivan’s extraordinary book… contains a hopeful vision of cultural and social justice, and does so with plenty of humane and humorous insights.”
Daneet Steffens, The Boston Globe

“Wonderful… Fascinating… Riveting… The Cliffs is both a mystery and a portrayal of houses, people and geographical locations…This skillful novel makes the case that knowing what came before offers us our best chance to truly understand our connections to one another, and what we owe to the land we inhabit.”
Alice Elliott Dark, New York Times Book Review

"Characters in this novel are created with considerable authorial care, and Sullivan’s historical research yields numerous sections with substantial depth....One of the pleasures of reading Sullivan’s novels: getting to know interestingly flawed characters in richly composed settings....Sullivan has included a wealth of details that are by turns lovely or heartbreaking....Sullivan’s sensitive portrayals...demonstrate the power of reading fiction." 
Carol Iaciofano Aucoin, WBUR

"The Cliffs is rich with ghosts, and its message is that some day we might be forgotten, but who we are and what we do never truly vanishes from this world....[Sullivan] tells the tender love story of a widow and her housekeeper and a story of a mother's love for her child."
Laurie Hertzel, Minneapolis StarTribune

"Sullivan has found the perfect heroine for her compulsively readable novel. Funny, beleaguered, heartbreaking—Jane is a woman who just wants to pull together and will do anything to make that happen. Even if means following the cryptic clues of possibly fraudulent psychic."
—Leigh Newman, Oprah Daily
"Haunting....Archivist Jane Flanagan returns to her coastal Maine hometown to discover that the long-abandoned gothic house she was obsessed with as a teen has a new owner. Genevieve, a wealthy outsider, has given the once-dilapidated dwelling a misbegotten makeover that she believes has awakened something sinister. In this provocative ghost story that questions how we right our wrongs of the past, the two must team up to rid the mysterious 19th-century home of its spirits and overcome their own demons."
—Shannon Carlin, Time

"A dilapidated lavender mansion, perched high on a craggy bluff in Maine, turns out to be more than a home: It’s the key to a century of hopes, misdeeds and family ghosts."
The New York Times

"A fascinating look at the idea of legacy."
Real Simple

The Cliffs is a stunning achievement, and J. Courtney Sullivan’s best book yet. Sullivan weaves a narrative that’s fascinating and thought-provoking. I literally could not put this book down.”
—Ann Napolitano, New York Times best-selling author of Hello Beautiful
"J. Courtney Sullivan is so skilled at multi-threaded narratives, and this is her most ambitious book yet. Weaving together the stories of women in Maine over centuries, this novel is about maternal loss and trauma, the idea of home, and most affecting, the stories that remain untold."
—Emma Straub, New York Times best-selling author of This Time Tomorrow

"Sullivan...writes with her usual compassion, insight, and sensitivity, creating multidimensional characters about whom, even as they make regrettable mistakes, the reader unwaveringly cares. She also tells a broader story of America’s complicated history, weaving in accounts of Indigenous and Shaker women, and poses powerful questions about how to right the wrongs of the past.
Sullivan artfully and astutely engages with difficult topics in this absorbing, affecting novel."
Kirkus, starred review

"This highly anticipated novel from Sullivan was worth the wait....A beautifully written, expansive novel, sure to please fans of Daniel Mason’s North Woods or the work of Kate Morton and Susanna Kearsley."
Library Journal

“Sullivan thoughtfully explores both Jane’s inner life and the history of the Maine coast, weaving stories of settlers, Shakers, and Indigenous inhabitants of the area with the contemporary plot. Jane is a complex character shaped by her past and trying to figure out her future, and her research leads to an overarching theme: whose story is remembered and told, and why?”

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593319154
ISBN-10: 059331915X
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: July 2nd, 2024
Pages: 384
Language: English