Cover image for A miracle for St. Cecilia's
A miracle for St. Cecilia's
Valentine, Katherine.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2002.
Physical Description:
278 pages ; 24 cm
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Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Christian
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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It's a bitter cold Ash Wednesday in Dorsetville, New England, where the last wool mill shut down five years ago and only Yankee grit gets its citizens out of bed for another day of facing challenges with wry humor. Poor in worldly goods but rich in faith and compassion, they have been bound together for generations by the gaudy monolith of St. Cecilia's church, long a white elephant to the Catholic archdiocese and now slated to close-after the last mass on Easter Sunday. Father James Flaherty despairs of turning the parish finances around, or even of fixing the cantankerous furnace. What will become of his flock? And of their beloved eighty-two-year-old Father Keene, increasingly eccentric but beatific, who had planned to live out his days at St. Cecilia's? Diners at the Country Kettle-where plates have never matched but you get the best cup of coffee in the valley-worry, too. Among them is waitress Lori Peterson, who needs her own miracle-a bone-marrow match for her husband, Bob. And Matthew Metcalf, a rash young genius in trouble at Dorsetville High for hacking into its computer and inadvertently exposing some embarrassing secrets. Delightful and moving, with a cast of endearing and quirky characters, A Miracle for St. Cecilia'swill warm hearts and enchant readers everywhere.

Author Notes

Katherine Valentine is an American folk artist. She was an instructor with the New York City Museum of American Folk Art and the Brookfield (Connecticut) Craft Center. She lives in Litchfield, Connecticut.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

It will take a miracle to save St. Cecilia's, the Catholic church in the small Connecticut town of Dorsetville. The town has fallen on hard times since the woolen mills shut down, and the church, an ornate relic of more prosperous days, serves just a handful of parishioners. When word comes from the archdiocese that St. Cecilia's will be closed right after Easter, Father James Flaherty worries about what will happen to elderly and addled Father Keene--and to Lori Peterson, waitress at the Country Kettle, whose husband, Bob, needs a bone-marrow transplant, and to Harriet Bedford, who found solace in the church after a family tragedy--not to mention numerous others who are too old or too poor to travel all the way to St. Bartholomew's in Burlington for mass. Just in time, an event at the church draws crowds and donations, but the real miracle comes from another direction. This book is the first in a projected series. Though it is less charming and more heavy-handed than Jan Karon's beloved Mitford novels, Valentine's clergyman as central character and close-knit, small-town setting make comparisons inevitable. A Catholic spin in the successful Mitford formula could be popular, and libraries should buy accordingly. --Mary Ellen Quinn

Publisher's Weekly Review

Folk artist Valentine seems to strive to emulate Jan Karon in this first novel, but is more aptly compared to Thomas Kinkade, another artist whose recent novel takes place in a New England community eerily like Dorsetville, which is Valentine's setting. In this town that time forgot, Catholic priest Father James frets over the archdiocese's decision to close down his church, leaving his aging parish without a place to worship. With the exception of some surprisingly mean-spirited depictions of Dorsetville's Congregationalists and a few other minor characters, Valentine offers a cast of saints: a young family fighting cancer, an elderly prayer warrior and several kind-underneath-it-all curmudgeons. Beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday, the novel is basically an introduction to these characters, which is to be expected this is the first in a series of Dorsetville books. Valentine favors redundancy, sometimes repeating information as if it were new. Moreover, the "miracle" at the end is confusing and appears from nowhere, as do a number of other plot contrivances such as, for example, the sudden appearance of a long-lost relative of the prayer warrior. Still, Valentine's prose is readable, and unlike most Christian fiction, this novel features devout Catholics, who resemble their fictional Protestant counterparts in every way except one: they drink. (When Father James is offered coffee heavily spiked with Jack Daniels, he enthusiastically accepts.) While Valentine's portrayal of the Catholic Church is undoubtedly sugarcoated, some readers will relish her prettified vision. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved