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Unfinished Desires

3.12 of 5 stars 3.12  ·  rating details  ·  1,139 ratings  ·  287 reviews
BONUS: This edition contains an Unfinished Desires discussion guide.

From Gail Godwin, three-time National Book Award finalist and acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Evensong and The Finishing School, comes a sweeping new novel of friendship, loyalty, rivalries, redemption, and memory.

It is the fall of 1951 at Mount St. Gabriel’s, an all-girls school tucked aw
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Published January 5th 2010 by Random House (first published January 1st 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,408)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I read the Advanced Reader's Edition, which I won here on Good Reads. The book is due out on December 29. The letter that came with the book encourages me to "share candid thoughts with fellow readers" on Good Reads. Okey doke. My candid thoughts, coming right up.

Gail Godwin is certainly one of the queens of character development. She takes you deep into the minds and motivations of the people in a way few authors even attempt. In Unfinished Desires, Godwin is especially skillful in her present
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Linda C
This book proved to be ultimately to be a disappointment. It seemed to be a book in search of an identity. If it had been a 200 page memoir on growing up Catholic in the south, it would have been a very good book. Much of the writing was lovely and depicted the era (from 1930-1950ish) very well.

However, THAT story could have been told in about 200 pages. So what occupied the remaining 200 pages? Ah, but that is the weakness in the book. The plot, loosely, centered around an event that occurred d
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Neide Parafitas
Mount St. Gabriel's é um colégio feminino de prestígio. Todos os anos lectivos conta uma história... mas a aqui retratada data de 1951, um ano terrível que despoletou uma série de acontecimentos que vieram a alterar profundamente a história do colégio!

Alternando o passado com o presente, a história é-nos contada pela madre Suzanne Ravenel que tenta reconciliar-se com as dramáticas origens do que ficou conhecido por "ano tóxico".

Este é um livro para ser lido com calma e paciência. Apesar de consi
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switterbug (Betsey)
This is a mature, adult book about adolescent girl behavior. Not since Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye have I read such a powerful novel about teenage feminine conformity, coercion, betrayal, jealousy, secrets, and love. Godwin creates a labyrinth that begins with a simple layer and gradually builds to a complex and knotted snare. I was pulled in from the opening pages as this rich, multi-generational tapestry is woven as if from the loom. The book never loses steam, and the lyrical rhythm amplifies ...more
Faith
By the time I finished reading this novel, I didn't particularly care for any of the characters. I didn't dislike them all, but I found them annoying. I was looking for a noble character -- not necessarily bigger than life. Ordinary is fine, but even those characters who showed potential to be bigger than life, in the end, were just very ordinary, interesting only in the way observing strangers is interesting.

Unfinished Desires is the story of a pivotal year in the life of Mother Ravenel. The st
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Patricia
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sara
Gail Godwin’s Unfinished Desires is in the league with some of her best work (for instance my favorite Evensong). Desires is set nearly entirely in an elite Catholic Girl’s school only its time frame spans nearly a century. We get the perspective and stories of the schools inception into 2008 and those who shaped the school’s history (a lot of nuns, girls, and parents). Only we don’t get the story chronologically, but instead Godwin builds up a little momentum settling with one time period and n ...more
Diane
This is the first novel I've read by this author, and although I loved the setting, and the novel is beautifully written, it was not an easy read.

Briefly, the story begins in 2001, Mother Suzanne Ravenel is an 85 year old, former headmistress of Mount St. Gabriel's, Roman Catholic boarding school for girls. The school was founded in 1910, and closed in 1990, and the school is located in the mountains of North Carolina. The school serves as the background for the well written novel.

Mother Suzanne
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Mardel
I loved this book. Within this book is three stories, covering three timelines, cleverly weaved into one story. It's very easy to follow, as the author clearly notes which time and about who you are reading.

The main characters Mother Suzanne, Mother Malloy, Tildy, Madeline, Chloe, Henry Vick, Maude, and a few others all have very strong voices, and are all very different people. We learn about each character little by little as the book progresses, not only through their own pov, but through eac
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Kathleen
I read this with my book group, which met to discuss on December 12, so that's the date I "finished" this book, hearing the reactions of others added to my own. As one group member put it, "Not my favorite Godwin." Her favorite is Evensong, which we also read with the group, and I also liked Evensong and Father Melancholy's Daughter better. In all of these books, there is great compassion for all kinds of people--a sort of tolerance and forgiveness for human flaws and foibles, even as some chara ...more
Patrícia
Por entre segredos e mistérios, um colégio privado devoto a Deus tenta controlar a maçã podre escondida dentro de um cesto opulento e gracioso. Mas quando um grupo de jovens senhoras está em causa, uma turma que tanto tem de precioso como de singular, de inteligência como de mesquinhez, acertar na maçã certa será um desafio. Infelizmente, quando esta é descoberta, demasiado tempo passou e imensas desgraças tomaram o seu curso. Muitos destinos alterados, muitas medidas drásticas formadas. Porém, ...more
Debbie
I gave this book 4 stars because the writing was exceptional. Godwin does an amazing job of developing these characters and bringing their personalities to life. This was no simple undertaking given that this story was filled with larger than life personalities that jumped off the page and grabbed your attention. Every character, dead or alive, spent time in the spotlight and fought for the reader's attention.

I found the early passages of Mother Ravenel's memoir a little tedious and boring but
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Dee
This novel about a private Catholic girl's school in an imaginary town in North Carolina in the Smokies is lovely. Godwin creates a wonderful 20th century world of girls, nuns, and their families.

Generations of girls, (at least three are followed) go to this school. The history of the school is being writen by the retired headmistress after the school has been closed in the '90's.

A big secret, (the headmistress and her best friend exchanged a passionate kiss when they were students (Seniors?)
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Leslie
The scope of Unfinished Desires is simultaneously epic and claustrophobic. Set at a Catholic girls' school in the North Carolina mountains, the novel traces the lives of several of the students in the 1950s, their families, and the nuns who run the school. Using a somewhat common plot device, Godwin sends the reader back in time and into the future to understand her characters and the impact of their relationships and choices. It works as much more than a gimmick in this case: the students, teac ...more
judy
I was so excited reading this book. I had forgotten what a remarkable writer Goodwin is. Her character development is second to none. The complexity of the characters and their interaction had that all important book club word "Discussable" woven into every line. I wanted to talk about this female coming-of-age novel with a room full of intelligent women. I could imagine us still debating as we walked out the door. My euphoria continued until the end of the book--or what I thought was the end. I ...more
Lauren
This novel is based on Godwin's own experiences at a Catholic day school in North Carolina. The retired headmistress is writing a memoir /historyof the school and is drawn back to a certain incident in the early 1950s that caused the expulsion of several students as well as her own leave of absence. But it is as much about the relationships between women - mothers and daughters, teachers and students, and the passionate friendships that exist between adolscent girls. In some ways, it is a very c ...more
Eileen Granfors
I have loved most of Gail Godwin's books, with "Father Melancholy's Daughter" and "A Mother and Two Daughters" among my top 100 favorite books.

I will not be adding Godwin's newest book, "Unfinished Desires," to my top 100 nor my top 1000.

The story moves around in time and narration frequently. The main story of Mother Ravenel's big secret gets lost in the interplay between the soap opera lives of Maud, Tildy, and Chloe.

I did enjoy the religious debates, the jealousy and incendiary rages of the
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Sharon Stockham
I picked this book up used because the author's name resonated. It seems I had read "A Mother and Two Daughters" and "The Finishing School" in the past. This story takes place in a Catholic high school in the mountains of North Carolina. It spans three generations of students, focusing on the school's matriarch. The story moves between the memoisr of the school she is writing and the mothers and daughters who were students in 1931 and 1952. Taken from the jacket: "In Unfinished Dreams" a beloved ...more
Lenoir
Despite the length of time it took me to read this book I really did like it. This was a pretty complex story that jumps back and forth in time and between narrators. In the beginning I got a little confused about who was who because there is a very large cast. Ultimately, this is the story of a nun who is the retired former head of a Catholic school. She was asked to write a memoir of the school had finally deal with some events from her past. The changes in point of view where excellent for ma ...more
Carla Faleiro
Hummm??? Então mas e o fim da estória???
Ler 400 paginas de divagações religiosas e acabar o livro com um fim que mais parecia o meio... que desilusão!!
Os segredos do colégio eram as paixonetas entre freiras e alunas?? Que grande novidade!!
Krob
Although I ordinarily enjoy books about schools and boarding schools in particular, this book really failed to deliver a very good story. The novel toggles between the memoirs of a retired Mother Superior of a girls' school in 1951 and the current lives of the characters. It also occasionally delves back to the girlhood of the Mother Superior. I disliked the back and forth narrative; it wasn't done very well. The story could have been much better.
Maria
Um livro com uma premissa muito interessante e com uma escrita fluida.

Lembram-se do filme Mean Girls? Pois, então preparem-se para uma viagenzinha até esse mundo maravilhoso de colegio interno de raparigas, cujas protagonistas estão na faixa dos 14 anos. De certeza que vão ver muitos joguinhos de poder ganharem vida, novamente. Mas a intriga é vivida por várias gerações de raparigas de 14 anos, em diferentes anos de finalista, envolvendo portanto várias gerações - mãe, filhas, tias, sobrinhas -
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Jana
I like this author's style of writing. She is very talented at creating and describing characters. Although I was enjoying the book, I decided to stop reading when there was a lesbian kiss which involved one of the nuns (before she became a nun.) I just thought that was completely unnecessary. I was afraid where the book was headed, so I just stopped reading.
Heather Middlebrooks
I did not think it was written well. It went from 3rd person to 1st person sometimes in the middle of a section. It was unnecessarily wordy. The last few sections were the best. To the point and told the major parts of the book. The characters never really developed the bonds that they should have.
Elyse Rudin
I didn't even make it to page 50. A Catholic school for girls in the 1950's. The story constantly goes from the present to the past and is so confusing. Throw in a lot of information on Catholicism and you have one boring book.
Leslie
An interesting back and forth between the perceived reality of people at a girl's prep school and the earlier experiences that shaped their lives.
Linda Blake
Boring.... I tried. I really tried, but just couldn't finish it. Maybe I've just had too much of the "mean girls" mentality.
Mª João Monteiro
Este livro gira à volta de um segredo que toda uma comunidade esconde. Quando o descobrimos, temos a tendência de pensar «- isto??» e pouco mais. Não gostei muito, mas também não desgostei. Contam-nos como é a vida num colégio interno feminino católico, seguimos algumas alunas e as suas vidas. Em algumas partes, só me lembrava da Enid Blyton... Algumas personagens são bastante interessantes, mas ficamos sem saber muito bem se serão boas ou más, o que traz algum interesse à história. No final, um ...more
Kathy
Our book club unanimously agreed “Patience and Faith” was the essence of Unfinished Desires.

In Unfinished Desires, a beloved author delivers a gorgeous new novel in which thwarted desires are passed on for generations–and captures the rare moment when a soul breaks free. (Goodreads)

All of my book club friends except one were brought up Catholics. We each attended a Catholic grade school. Three of us went to same school! We found it very easy to discuss this book possibly because of our Catholic
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Steve Lindahl
Unfinished Desires is an excellent read by Gail Godwin, one of my favorite authors. The characters are wonderfully complex. The story takes place in Mount St. Gabriel's, a Catholic school for girls in western North Carolina. The setting is perfect for raising relationship issues to the forefront and for presenting interesting perspectives on faith.

Mother Suzanne Ravenel is the headmistress of the school. She is a strong leader who has provided her girls with a rich environment that is secure and
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Gail Kathleen Godwin is an American novelist and short story writer. She has published one non-fiction work, two collections of short stories, and eleven novels, three of which have been nominated for the National Book Award and five of which have made the New York Times Bestseller List.

Godwin's body of work has garnered many honors, including three National Book Award nominations, a Guggenheim Fe
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