Cover Image: The Cliffs

The Cliffs

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Member Reviews

I liked this one. Actually I loved it for about 70% of the book, but for some reason my interest quickly waned. The author tells a good story, and creates real characters that I can identify with. The issue for me felt like an abundance of ideas, which were attempted to be joined together for the story, some successfully, some not. I liked Jane; she was real, flawed, unapologetically human. I loved the coastal Maine setting, having spent some time in the Ogunquit area.

I think the author is extremely talented, and look forward to being a faithful reader for years to come. I just hope she can thin out and sharpen some of her ideas a little bit.

I received a complimentary copy of the novel from the publisher and NetGalley, and my review is being left freely.

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I love family drama stories and boy does this book have it all. Not only the main character, Jane, has family secrets she is uncovering while cleaning out her mother's house. But the house she has been obsessed with her whole life has secrets Jane discovers while researching the history of the house and those who lived there. This book is so magical and heartbreaking.
Jane going through a separation, her battle with alcoholism, and trying to connect with her sister and deceased mother is almost too much. Then the own of the house on the cliff, asks Jane to research the house's history. Jane never dreams that the house is connected to her family in any way other than her dreaming of owning the house since she was a teenager. This book is the definition of tales woven together to form a history going all the way to the indigenous tribes who first belonged to the land and of course the colonists who drove them away, kidnapped them or killed them.
I kept coming back to the book ready to learn more. This is exquisite.

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I wanted to really like this book, but it really meanders. It started off good an interesting story with an old house and ghosts then goes into a long history lesson. It just bored me at some parts. She should have really cut back on the history portions of the book.

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J. Courtney Sullivan's sixth novel, The Cliffs, is a sweeping opus to life and death, love and heartbreak, longing and loss. A slow burn, multi-layered story of various women tied together through history and time to a house on the cliffs in a small town in Maine. Strong elements of historical fiction, the complexities and complications of family and history, and also a thread of a ghost story. I admittedly struggled a bit at times while reading this - an issue I never encountered reading any of Sullivan's previous novels (all of which I loved). However, I had a feeling that all the pieces would eventually come together, and I'm glad I stayed with the novels and its characters until the satisfying conclusion.

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Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced reader copy.

This book is the epitome of a slow burn. Life stories from many women, layered and interconnected over decades and shared histories.

I wish i had more time to take this book in slowly as my rushed approach made me skim some of the details.

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A large Victorian house on the coast in Maine has loomed large in Jane Flanagan's life. When she was a teenager, the house was abandoned and became a refuge from her own home. Two decades later, Jane returns home to Maine after a mistake threatens her professional future. Jane finds the house is much different than she remembered it—it is occupied and the owner, Genevieve, has renovated it to the point it is nearly unrecognizable. Genevieve hires Jane to research the history of the home, and she uncovers a history that is even more dramatic than she could have ever expected, just as she is coming to terms with the surprising turns in her own life.

This was a touching and perceptive novel, weaving together historical fiction with timely modern themes.

Highly recommended!

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While this synopsis drew me in and got me interested initially, it unfortunately felt long and dragged out for the majority of this story. It felt like a long history lesson in parts and ultimately, started to loose my attention. Due to this, I felt like it lost sight of the main plot. It did start out promising and I was interested until about 25% then I started skimming each page. The writing at times was well done, but then other parts, it felt very juvenile. Overall, it felt scattered and all over the place and one I don't be recommending to friends, family, or followers.

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Thanks Netgalley for allowing me to read this book. Jane has been trying to escape her past for years. She travels home decades letter. She asked to figure out information about a gorgeous house that was recently renovated after being abandoned fir years. This book lagged at times

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This was an interesting read, but ultimately too meandering and long for me to recommend enthusiastically. I quite enjoy J Courtney Sullivan and she writes historical stories well. This one veered from historical fiction into almost history textbook territory, and I found myself losing focus and interest.

It’s important to keep amplifying the truth of what happened to indigenous Americans, there is no doubt. But this felt like a preachy yet superficial way to do that. I couldn’t engage with the “lessons” because I felt spoken down to without a lot of substance.

It’s also hard, as the daughter of an alcoholic, to read about alcoholism on page in the way we do here with Jane. That is certainly a me problem, but worth flagging.

If it had been more of the ghost story promised by the summary, I would have rated it higher. As it was, there was a lot of content shoved in, not all that subtlety. 3 stars. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

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This book started off great, but after about 40% I started getting kinda bored. The beginning sets you up with an old mansion on the cliffs of the coast of Maine in our main character, Jane’s, hometown. Jane works in the Harvard library archives, but is on temporary leave because of inappropriate behavior at a work event—caused by her long-time struggle with alcoholism. She’s living in her childhood home, cleaning it out and prepping it for selling after her mother’s death. There’s not a lot going for Jane, she’s clearly having a rough time.

Then, Jane runs into a woman named Genevieve who invites her to do research on the history of her new home because her son saw and spoke with a ghost there—the same mansion we’re introduced to in the beginning of the novel. However, after this, the novel starts losing steam. The author gives us what I would consider to be too much backstory.

Eliza lived in the home when it was first built. Her story was interesting, but there was so much information given through it that didn’t feel necessary and left me trying to figure out where the story was going. Same goes for Naomi, who we get introduced to in the second to last chapter. In my opinion, neither of their stories required so much time. I think if the author had focused more on one set of characters and one timeline this novel would have been far better. There was just too much going on. I loved the way she wrote, her prose was great, so I plan to try again with another book someday.

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J. Courtney Sullivan never misses a beat! I have read all of JCS's books and have enjoyed every one of them. The Cliffs deserves the biggest jewel in JCS's crown. She has a way of painting each character with such precision that they seem to jump off the pages. If you enjoy well-written novels with complicated family dynamics, The Cliffs is for you. I predict this will be the hit of the Summer!

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Jane was the sane one in her family in their small town in Maine. Her mother and sister, Holly, were hard drinking party girls. Jane used her intellect, her grandmother and friendship with Allison to get away from the influence of mother and sister.
Teenaged Jane became fascinated by an abandoned house on the cliff overlooking the ocean. She and Allison would visit it often before Jane went off to college.
After graduation Jane was able to secure a job at a prestigious museum at Harvard. It was there she met David who she later married.
However Jane also found herself addicted to alcohol and that became a problem after the death of her mother. There was a a scandalous incident one night and as a result Jane was in danger of losing both her job and her husband.
So she returned to the small town to prepare her late mother’s home for sale. Her friend Allison told her of the sale of that long abandoned house on the cliff to a wealthy family. When Jane met the owner, Genevieve, she was asked to research the history of the house. While doing this job, Jane learned much of the history of the town as well as her family’s connection to the house.
This book started out slowly but became more interesting after Jane returned to Maine. As the book progresses we learn many interesting secrets. I was not happy with the ending but realize that in real life, not every story has a satisfying ending.

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As a teenager, Jane Flanagan discovered an abandoned Victorian house painted lavender on a cliff overlooking the ocean in fictional Awadapquit, Maine, in The Cliffs, the latest novel by J. Courtney Sullivan, coming out July 16. When she found an unlocked door, she toured the mansion finding clothes in the closets, dishes in the cabinets, and marbles and glass on the floor. Something heartbreaking had occurred to the last family who lived there.

Years later, Jane would be asked to research the history of the house by its new owner Genevieve who gave no consideration to the history of the house when she gutted it and cleared away walls for an open concept. Jane, who had worked in Harvard’s archives, was back in Awadapquit to prepare her late mother’s home for sale as she took refuge from a scandal that cost her job and possibly her marriage.

When she reported her findings to Genevieve about the history of the home and its owners, she was surprised to find out that Genevieve had reason to believe the house was haunted: her little boy Benjamin was being visited by a ghost named Eliza. Jane delved into further research that uncovered information about the original owners of the home and the heartbreak they encountered as well as stories about subsequent owners.

This is the sixth novel by J. Courtney Sullivan, a former reporter for the New York Times. She grew up in Boston and lives in New York with her family.

My review will be posted on Goodreads starting April 17, 2024.

I would like to thank Alfred A. Knopf and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in return for an objective review.

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I love me a story like this! It kept me captivated from the first chapter. I just think a wide variety/range of people will really enjoy this! I recommend.

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This book exhibits exemplary writing, replete with poignant moments that evoke profound emotional responses. "The Cliffs" pays homage to the enduring legacies of individuals and locales. It underscores the imperative of preservation as a means of honoring the past. The narrative prompts contemplation on the influence of historical context on present-day realities.

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The Cliffs by J. Courtney Sullivan was an unusual read for me. I am always a fan of historical novels.This book reflects many issues including women literature, the Shakers, Native Americans in Maine, spiritualism, and alcoholism. Jane grows up in a single family home with an alcoholic mother. Not until she is an adult that she finds out how alcohol ism has been in her family for previous generations. Find out how this affects her career and her marriage. Thank you to Net Galley for allowing me to read novel prior to its publication.

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I'm such a fan of J. Courtney Sullivan's previous books that I was ready to devour this one. Unfortunately this wasn't the case. The Cliffs reads more like a meandering history text than a novel. It took me weeks to read this rather than my typical few days.

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I have read lots of J. Courtney Sullivan's novels and have enjoyed them all.

This is a slow burn fiction/historical fiction novel. It has a lot of layers and you can tell a lot of research was put into it.

This book was full of heartbreak, drama and numerous issues, such as alcoholism, mother/daughter relationships, infertility, Alzheimer's.

This book had highs and lows - too many POVs and the spiritual element was not my favorite but loved how some parts of history were not discovered yet by the characters by the book's end.

Thanks Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC!

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Thanks you to J. Courtney Sullivan, Knopf, and NetGalley for this story due out in July of 2024.

I really enjoyed this book.

The setting was so descriptive and amazing.

I loved all the characters.

The book flowed perfectly and was an easy read. Time seemed to fly by as I became engrossecd n the book.

The side stories could have been cut as they didn't seem to add much to the main story, although they were entertaining.


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I am such a huge fan of all of the author’s other books, but this one was a miss for me. I got a third of the way through until I decided to DNF. I found the story to be slow and I didn’t care enough about the characters to continue.

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