The Patron Saint of Unmarried Women

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9780312110376: The Patron Saint of Unmarried Women

Jack Townsend attempts to rekindle his romance with Nina Lawrence, a relationship that turned sour en route to the altar, in a debut novel about modern love, the Church, opera, basketball, and landscaping. A first novel.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The first-person voice in this endearingly quirky first novel is so entertaining that it makes up for a lack of transformation on the part of the main characters. Two Washington, DC, residents--landscape architect Jack and artist Nina--break up after living together for several years and one year after chickening out of marriage. Nina leaves Jack for no apparent reason, unless `` `God was sending me a message' '' counts as one. Nina's Italian-American family attempts to intervene, especially her mother, Marie, who informs Jack that Nina has begun seeing an uptight Jewish lawyer who happens to play in Jack's basketball league. Jack's sister Ellen also gets into the act, fixing him up with a divorced SEC lawyer who is so well-adjusted that she seems almost automated. Narrator Jack tells of the pain of their split, making parallels between his beloved operas and his own plight, as well as of his adventures as a single guy, with a tongue-in-cheek slant that makes even the mundane interesting. ``Proper male bonding demands an activity--preferably one involving a ball--to shift the focus from the conversation. You break the news about your impending divorce to your best friend at a batting cage, discuss your father's rapidly failing memory with your brother at putt-putt.'' Washington and its environs are also well drawn. A building sits ``in the heart of new Bethesda, a sterile canyonland of white concrete and red brick that overlays a town I used to love....I miss the human scale of old Bethesda, the smelly dumpsters and shaggy willows and warrens of alleys and ten-car parking lots.'' Ackerman takes some easy but amusing shots at therapy: Nina's new love interest has scheduled screaming sessions with his mother, and Jack's latest lover discusses all sexual details with a therapist. While the book works as a close examination of '90s social angst, Jack and Nina's breakup never seems genuine--especially for such basically earthy characters. A tour of one man's life, with little action but first-rate scenery and commentary. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Readers after a wholesome, feel-good love story need look no further than this debut novel chronicling a couple's stormy yet meant-to-be relationship. In Washington, D.C., narrator Jack Townshend, a landscaper, and his fiancee, artist Nina Lawrence, break off their engagement just three months before the scheduled wedding. Jack is heartbroken, as is Nina's Italian Catholic family, some of whom meet with the young man on the sly to keep him informed of Nina's post-engagement progress. But Nina takes up with one of Jack's amateur-basketball teammates, and Jack, determined to get on with his life, also begins seeing someone else. Thus does Jack stew and Nina remain uncommunicative--until their momentous meeting (helped along by Nina's family) at an exhibition of Nina's paintings. Ackerman deftly indicates the undying spark of passion between his principals; the question all along is not if, but how and when, they'll patch things up. A somewhat misleading title notwithstanding, this irreverent modern romance blends equal parts soap opera and sitcom into a frothy read.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Karl Ackerman
ISBN 10: 0312110375 ISBN 13: 9780312110376
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