When Charles "Skip" Cuddy is released from county jail and goes to work for octogenarian Lydia Blessing, he has no idea what a task he has undertaken. When he leaves his garage apartment to make Ms. Blessing's morning coffee, a surprise awaits him at the bottom of the stairs. There, wrapped in a flannel shirt, lies an abandoned baby in a cardboard box. Afraid of what his overbearing boss's reaction might be, he decides to keep the baby a secret. But a young man with no fatherhood experience can't keep the baby hidden for long!
"People love the idea of a place with a name," says a realtor about the Blessing estate. But what the residents of Mount Mason love more than a place with a name are the scandals that have surrounded the Blessings over the years.
In BLESSINGS, readers are drawn into the world of Lydia Blessing as she deals with family demons and the skeletons in her own closet. The unwanted child of a stern mother and doting father, Lydia continues the legacy by alienating her own daughter, the illegitimate child of one of her father's acquaintances. But when newborn Faith makes her appearance on the Blessings scene, Lydia's sour countenance is softened and she discovers the joys of motherhood that she had never known were possible.
As Charles and Lydia embark on their journeys to self-discovery, the hardships of both destitution and privilege are revealed. The tragedy of the story continually deepens until the return of Faith to her birthmother and the death of Lydia.
This book is not entertaining --- it is enveloping. Anna Quindlen has masterfully woven an unpredictable plot and created characters with amazing depth. Quindlen's descriptive writing moves the reader to tears of empathy for even the most insignificant characters. Void of comic relief or unimaginably happy endings, BLESSINGS offers an emotional catharsis for even the most stoic reader.
Reviewed by Melissa Brown on January 21, 2011