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Unfinished Desires: A Novel
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Random House Publishing Group 2010
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Description

BONUS: This edition contains an Unfinished Desires discussion guide. From Gail Godwin, three-time National Book Award finalist and acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Evensong and The Finishing School, comes a sweeping new novel of friendship, loyalty, rivalries, redemption, and memory. It is the fall of 1951 at Mount St. Gabriel's, an all-girls school tucked away in the mountains of North Carolina. Tildy Stratton, the undisputed queen bee of her class, befriends Chloe Starnes, a new student recently orphaned by the untimely and mysterious death of her mother. Their friendship fills a void for both girls but also sets in motion a chain of events that will profoundly affect the course of many lives, including the girls' young teacher and the school's matriarch, Mother Suzanne Ravenel. Fifty years on, the headmistress relives one pivotal night, trying to reconcile past and present, reaching back even further to her own senior year at the school, where the roots of a tragedy are buried. In Unfinished Desires, a beloved author delivers a gorgeous new novel in which thwarted desires are passed on for generations--and captures the rare moment when a soul breaks free.

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Street Date:
01/05/2010
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781588369123
ASIN:
B002ZAJIPG
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Gail Godwin. (2010). Unfinished Desires: A Novel. Random House Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Gail Godwin. 2010. Unfinished Desires: A Novel. Random House Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Gail Godwin, Unfinished Desires: A Novel. Random House Publishing Group, 2010.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Gail Godwin. Unfinished Desires: A Novel. Random House Publishing Group, 2010. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        Gail Godwin is a three-time National Book Award finalist and the bestselling author of twelve critically acclaimed novels, including A Mother and Two Daughters, Violet Clay, Father Melancholy's Daughter, Evensong, The Good Husband, and Evenings at Five. She is also the author of The Making of a Writer: Journals, 1961--1963, the first of two volumes, edited by Rob Neufeld. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts grants for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has written libretti for ten musical works with the composer Robert Starer. She lives in Woodstock, New York.

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title
Unfinished Desires
fullDescription

BONUS: This edition contains an Unfinished Desires discussion guide.

From Gail Godwin, three-time National Book Award finalist and acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Evensong and The Finishing School, comes a sweeping new novel of friendship, loyalty, rivalries, redemption, and memory.

It is the fall of 1951 at Mount St. Gabriel's, an all-girls school tucked away in the mountains of North Carolina. Tildy Stratton, the undisputed queen bee of her class, befriends Chloe Starnes, a new student recently orphaned by the untimely and mysterious death of her mother. Their friendship fills a void for both girls but also sets in motion a chain of events that will profoundly affect the course of many lives, including the girls' young teacher and the school's matriarch, Mother Suzanne Ravenel.

Fifty years on, the headmistress relives one pivotal night, trying to reconcile past and present, reaching back even further to her own senior year at the school, where the roots of a tragedy are buried.

In Unfinished Desires, a beloved author delivers a gorgeous new novel in which thwarted desires are passed on for generations--and captures the rare moment when a soul breaks free.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Boston Globe
      • content: "A large, roomy story of love, loss, fidelity, secrets, rivalry and faith in the lives of a charming, flawed troupe of characters.... Provocative and rewarding."
      • premium: False
      • source: Denver Post
      • content: "This rich world...draws and holds the reader from the first to the final pages of the work. "
      • premium: False
      • source: San Francisco Chronicle
      • content: "Tender but clear-eyed ...Godwin's South has always been a place where charm and good manners can barely conceal the emotional drama pulsing beneath the surface...Recalls the fraught family bonds of Godwin's best novels..."
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times Book Review
      • content: "Godwin's reserved yet powerful new novel is set in a boarding school in the mountains of North Carolina...Though it's a beautiful well-intentioned institution, the school is anything but serene...."
      • premium: False
      • source: Bookpage
      • content: "If you plan on reading just one great novel in 2010, this might be it... a big old-fashioned book about jealousy and passion at a Catholic girl's school, written with Gail Godwin's trademark depth and humor...."
      • premium: False
      • source: Christian Science Monitor
      • content: "Godwin's writing is ... marvelous, engaging, clever."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: "Poignant and transporting...convincing, satisfying."
      • premium: False
      • source: Asheville Citizen-Times
      • content: "Intoxicating... Godwin's latest novel charms."
      • premium: False
      • source: Dallas Morning News
      • content: "Masterly."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews starred review,
      • content: "A strong story populated by a host of memorable characters–smart, satisfying fiction, one of the author's best in years."
      • premium: False
      • source: O: The Oprah Magazine
      • content: "Ten Titles to Watch For: This seasoned author revisits familiar territory. Fascinating, always."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        September 7, 2009
        Bestselling author Godwin (Evensong
        ; The Finishing School
        ) brings readers back in time to the early 1950s in this endearing story of Catholic school girls and the nuns who oversee them. As Mother Suzanne Ravenel begins a memoir of her 60-plus years at Mount St. Gabriel's School in Mountain City, N.C., she's forced to re-examine the “toxic year” of 1951–1952, one of her worst at the school—beginning with the arrival of ninth-grade student Chloe Starnes, who's recently lost her mother, and Mother Malloy, a beautiful young nun assigned to the freshman class. Starnes and Malloy's arrivals presage a shift in the ranks of freshman Tildy Stratton's cruel clique, with significant consequences for all involved. Change, when it finally comes, stems from the girls' attempt to revive a play written years before by Ravenel. Godwin captures brilliantly the subtleties of friendships between teenage girls, their ambivalence toward religion and their momentous struggle to define people—especially themselves. Poignant and transporting, this faux memoir makes a convincing, satisfying novel.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from July 15, 2009
        After a couple of subpar efforts, Godwin (Queen of the Underworld, 2006, etc.) is back in top form with a gripping tale of jealousies and power struggles at a Catholic girls' school.

        In the year 2001, elderly Mother Suzanne Ravenel tape-records her memories of her 50 years at Mount Saint Gabriel's in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. Her worst memories are of the dreadful school year 1951-52, when a turbulent ninth grader provoked an outburst that resulted in the headmistress being sent on a leave of absence. Mother Ravenel's own student years at Mount Saint Gabriel's in the 1930s also figure in the story, as does her fraught friendship with Antonia Tilden. This being the South, the separate generations are connected by blood and grievances. Antonia's orphaned niece Chloe is in that 1951-52 ninth-grade class, and she becomes best friends with manipulative, needy Tildy Stratton, daughter of Antonia's embittered twin Cordelia, who's convinced that Suzanne Ravenel's pushiness led to Antonia abandoning her true vocation as a nun. Cordelia's animosity and malice drive the plot, as Tildy takes up her mother's vendetta against the admittedly bossy, self-righteous Mother Ravenel. Chloe's kind Uncle Henry is the only male character of any significance; the emphasis is on female friendships, especially the adolescent variety, with its gusts of hormonal emotions and intricate maneuvers for position. Bad mothers get a good deal of attention as well (there are quite a few of them), and Godwin elicits our understanding for all her characters without letting them off the hook for bad behavior. She skillfully unfolds fascinatingly tangled motives as she keeps the action bustling along. Moving final scenes show an old nun realizing that mixed motives matter less than a lifetime of service, and two old friends reconnecting after 55 years, matured and seasoned by what they've endured, but not so very different from what they were at 14.

        A strong story populated by a host of memorable characters—smart, satisfying fiction, one of the author's best in years.

        (COPYRIGHT (2009) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        August 15, 2009
        Godwin's latest novel (after "Queen of the Underworld") is a convoluted tale of intrigue at a girls' boarding school that spans generations. Mount St. Gabriel, an exclusive academy in the North Carolina mountains, was founded by two nuns at the beginning of the 20th century. The school's sheltered atmosphere promoted rigorous academic and religious education but allowed adolescent jealousies to fester unchecked. The story's major characters attended the school in the early 1950s, when the school's headmistress was the manipulative Mother Ravenel, herself an alumna from the 1920s, as were some of the students' mothers. The story hopscotches in time from the school's founding to the near present, when the elderly Mother Ravenel dictates her memoir and aging classmates reunite to reminisce. It's a chore to keep the many generations of characters straight, especially when so many are superficially drawn. The promise of uncovering Mother Ravenel's involvement in a past incident of seeming import to one of the families lures the reader on, but the denouement, though tragic, reveals little motivation beyond schoolgirl pettiness. VERDICT Of interest to die-hard Godwin fans.Reba Leiding, James Madison Univ. Libs., Harrisonburg, VA

        Copyright 2009 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        August 1, 2009
        Madeline describes Mount St. Gabriels, the venerated all-girls Catholic school in Mountain City, North Carolina, as a hotbed of bitchery. Self-possessed and beautiful at 16, Madeline had followed her sharp-tongued photographer mother, Cornelia, and her mothers twin, Antonia, to Mount St. Gabriels, only to be expelled. Now Madelines scheming younger sister, Tildy, is equally in danger of triggering the wrath of the schools flinty headmistress, Mother Raving Ravenel. Theres a reason for Ravenels hostility toward the family, but before Godwin reveals that secret, there are many other intriguing entanglements, conflicts, and tragedies to sort out, and readers will be in no rush. Godwins scintillating thirteenth novel is a perfect take-a-break tale. Delectably funny, shrewdly melodramatic, and complexly spiritual, it takes place in two time frames. The stories of Madeline and classmates Tildy, wild Maud, and Chloe, a budding artist mourning her mother, take place in 1951. In 2001, Mother Ravenel, still fierce at 85, is recording her memories of Mount St. Gabriels, and struggling with the resurrection of long-suppressed feelings. With a viney plot, smart and sensitive characters, and elegantly witty dialogue, Godwins novel is as refreshing as just-picked berries.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2009, American Library Association.)

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BONUS: This edition contains an Unfinished Desires discussion guide.

From Gail Godwin, three-time National Book Award finalist and acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Evensong and The Finishing School, comes a sweeping new novel of friendship, loyalty, rivalries, redemption, and memory.

It is the fall of 1951 at Mount St. Gabriel's, an all-girls school tucked away in the mountains of North Carolina. Tildy Stratton, the undisputed queen bee of her class, befriends Chloe Starnes, a new student recently orphaned by the untimely and mysterious death of her mother. Their friendship fills a void for both girls but also sets in motion a chain of events that will profoundly affect the course of many lives, including the girls' young teacher and the school's matriarch, Mother Suzanne Ravenel.

Fifty years on, the headmistress relives one pivotal night, trying to reconcile past and present, reaching back even...

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