Blessings
by Anna Quindlen


Random House, 2002. ISBN 0812969812.
Reviewed by Judith Helburn
Posted on 12/15/2004

Fiction: Literary

Quindlen's book is full of blessings. There is the Blessing family, reaching the end of its bloodline. There is the Blessing's estate called Blessings—a singular place of sanctuary if a bit neglected. There is the blessing of the child left on the garage doorstep for Skip to discover. There are the blessings of Sun and Benny and Jennifer and Meredith.

Each of the well developed characters in Blessings struggles through adversities of the past and, for the most part, become more compassionate, loving human beings. A newborn child transforms lives which seem, initially, to be endlessly circling in stale patterns. The miracles in Blessings roll forth as naturally as the clouds drifting over the pond on the secluded estate. Skip, for instance, realized "that babies had a way of making people exactly what they were or more so. Faith [the baby] had brought out the rectitude and responsibility in Mrs. Blessing, the warmth in Jennifer Foster, and the capacity in him, so that she had made him think well of himself."

Blessings is told from the point of view of both Skip [Charles] Cuddy, high school mess-up and drifter turned groundskeeper, and Lydia Blessing, 80+ years old, proper and rigid owner of Blessings. Quindlen is remarkable in her ability to speak authentically in both voices. "Sometimes she [Mrs. Blessing] thought that the world had lost its compass. Peaches were meant to be eaten in the summer, apples in the fall... And sometimes now she wondered improbably, whether the compass had been set askew to begin with... [she now] wondered what all the old mores really meant."

Blessings is a lovely, heartwarming novel "of love, redemption and personal change."

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