Mary McGarry Morris

"Songs in Ordinary Times"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark FEB 18, 1999)

Songs in Ordinary Time

Carl's Mom, once again, leant me a good book I probably would otherwise have missed. It offers a good solid story about a less than perfect family in a small Vermont town in the 1960s. I found all of the characters in this book to be believable, if not frustrating. Although the plotlines for the most part are not inventive, such as the con man getting conned or the priest having his way with a young girl, it is part of the art of the book. She writes what we all know to be things that do happen, they are old stories. This helps get out her "old story," that of mothers putting their own needs before their children.

The title is the twist behind the story. Unfortunately, all of these events are so ordinary. The book seems to end so common, with the daughter going off to college, that one might feel the ending is a let down. Yet, the point of the story is, for this family, and probably for many others, it is the most extraordinary event. I notice that some of the more recent reviewers for Amazon do not care for this book and call it boring. I obviously don't agree with their assessment, I was far too involved in hoping that people weren't really going to make the decisions that they were about to make, to be bored.

It is a thick book and it will take awhile to finish. If you only have a few moments a week to read so that books tend to stretch out over a long period of time, this one might not be for you. If you do decide to read this book, don't read Connie May Fowler's When Women Had Wings before or after it unless you have some St. John's Wort nearby or you need a blatant cure for child abuse. But if you like an involved novel about people and everyday life, then try this one.

  • Amazon readers' rating: from 266 reviews


(back to top)

Bibliography: (with links to

Movies made from books:


(back to top)

Book Marks:


(back to top)

About the Author:

Mary McGarry MorrisMary McGarry Morris is married and the mother of five children. She lives in Massachusetts. Her first novel, Vanished, was nominated for the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her second novel, A Dangerous Woman, was made into a major motion picture. About Us | Subscribe | Review Team | History | ©1998-2014