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Dear James

2.5 (1815)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Dear James.pdf | Language: ENGLISH

When St. Isidore's Elementary in Staggerford, Minnesota is closed, Miss Agatha McGee, who has taught there her whole life, is thrown back on her friends to sustain her. She finds her friends wanting. Fleeing unhappiness at home, Agatha sets off on a pilgrimage to Italy, unaware that her old soulmate and nemesis, Father James O'Hannon of County Kildare, Ireland, is waiting to meet her. There, in the golden light of Assisi, Agatha and James begin to rebuild their friendship . . . and their love.


From the Paperback edition.

Pungent humor and a shrewd eye for human foibles make this latest addition to Hassler's Staggerford saga ( North of Hope , etc.) memorable. The small Minnesota town is set on its ear by Miss Agatha McGee, an upright elderly resident with a sawtoothed tongue. At loose ends due to forced retirement from her longtime teaching post, Agatha despairs when she looks at the motley crew of friends gathered at her table for an excruciating Thanksgiving dinner (described in hilarious detail). At one time, Agatha's respite from these small-minded, albeit kindhearted people was her Irish pen-pal James, to whom she poured out her feelings, but she severed that tie when she discovered he was a priest. Now, she signs on for a tour of Italy where, unbeknownst to her, James awaits. During her absence from Staggerford, a malicious neighbor finds their correspondence and lays it on the public pillory. Agatha returns to cold shoulders from townsfolk angered by her sharp commentaries, but finds consolation in her deepening relationship with James--and with the Church. It's Staggerford's gleeful eccentrics, not the author's occasional plunges into maudlin sentimentality, that linger in the mind after reading this deliciously rich, simmering brew of envy, charity and redemptive love. Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. Hassler returns to his fictional Minnesota town of Staggerford for a quiet story that centers on the themes of loss and spiritual renewal. He populates this new novel with a number of characters who first appeared in his debut novel, Staggerford ( LJ 7/77). Agatha McGee, a Catholic school teacher, faces a number of crises in her 70th year. She must confront her own forced retirement, the realization that her long-time Irish pen pal (the James of the title, for whom she was nurturing more than Platonic feelings) is a priest, and the fact that the world still harbors a host of evils--from the Irish Troubles, to terrorism, to the petty jealousies that ruin lives in a small town. Hassler's usual facility with language is not as powerful as in earlier works, but his characters can still intrigue. This is a work that resonates best in context with the earlier works. Recommended for large fiction collections and collections of regional fiction. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/93.- Martin R. Kalfatovic, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C.Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

3.3 (7152)
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Book details

  • PDF | 438 pages
  • Ballantine Books; 1st edition (April 13, 1993)
  • English
  • 3
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Jacqueline D Weaver on February 3, 2015

    I like this book I like it so far (still reading) I have to say I am so mad at Imogene right now she is vindictive I wont give too much away but she needs to be put in her place or get a swift kick in her butt I had to step away for a minute but this Arthur was really good I am sorry he passed but I am glad his books remain

  • By addictedtoreading on June 20, 2012

    I saw the movie made of "Green Journey", the precursor to this novel, and loved it. So I went looking for more of his work. This sequel is so delightful, full of interesting/unexpected twists and turns and character development. The relationship between Agatha and James continues as they travel, and after she returns home. You will enjoy them and all of the characters in their lives!

  • By C. C. Black on December 17, 2007

    It is my misfortune to discover many of our finest contemporary writers some 15-20 years after they've begun publishing. Better late than never in such cases as Jon Hassler, who travels in much the league and genre of J. F. Powers and Garrison Keillor. Hassler's voice and craft, however, are all his own, and they are a delight. "Dear James" is my introduction to his oeuvre; I look forward to reading much more.

  • By A Rodriguez on December 30, 2014

    Not a fan. Did not like.

  • By Clara Comingore on May 21, 2015

    I haven't finished book yet, I haven't latched onto the main theme of the book.

  • By Mary on December 24, 2016

    Not in good condition

  • By pam on December 18, 2017

    Frankly, I'm amazed by all the positive reviews. I found the main character, Agatha, to be thoroughly unlikable. She was pious, harsh, judgmental, and convinced that she was superior to all around her. When her private thoughts (in which she manages to insult everyone in the town, including her best friend) are revealed, she doubles down on these qualities and is, in the end, completely unrepentant and unashamed. She smolders in self-righteous indignation while waiting for everyone in the town to quit being unreasonably angry at her cruelty and apologize to her for their pain. And amazingly, they do. When one adds to this the fact that she allows a relative to live in squalor because she is too proud to reveal a "family secret" - although everyone closely involved in the secret is long dead - she falls, in my opinion, into an abyss that even the best writing is not able to pull her out of. And Jon Hassler, in this book at least, does not exhibit even mediocre writing. James (of the title) was not well fleshed out, but if he knew Agatha as the readers do and was in love with her, then I really don't need to know any more about him. I guess for fans of all things Catholic, or for those whose piety equals Agatha's, the book is worth the trudge-through. I however, plan to avoid this author in the future.


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