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October Suite

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  209 ratings  ·  31 reviews
"The air cools to crisp, carries sound farther. Last pears ripen and fall, ferment on the ground; the aroma of their wine mixes with the pungency of leaf smoke from nowhere and everywhere. At nightfall, the wing-song shrill of crickets announces that this season has a natural pathos to it, the brief and flaming brilliance of everything at the climax of life moving toward d ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 25th 2001 by Random House (first published 2001)
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3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  209 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Aug 16, 2012 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book for the most part, but didn't find it to be particularly noteworthy or a must-read of any sort. It took a few chapters for me to become interested and I nearly put it down. The central character is October Brown, a schoolteacher fresh out of college who has a sad and complicated past. She makes the mistake of thinking that an unplanned pregnancy will make the man she loves stay, and instead winds up with a child she feels nothing for. Her choice affects her career, friendship ...more
Mocha Girl
Oct 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
October Suite is a coming-of-age story about a young woman who struggles to deal with her family and relationship issues. Lillian "October" Brown and her sister, Vergie, are sheltered orphans raised by their two aunts because their father murdered their mother in their presence. The novel begins when October leaves home in 1950 for the first time to begin her life as an educator. Her naivety gets her into "trouble" and she returns home to give birth to her son by a married man. She allows her ma ...more
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it

great book. weak beginning that leads you down a well crafted path that brings these characters and their choices into the 4th dimension! the last paragraph sums it all up.

"the wept for the wonder of endings. though they could never shape happy endings, they could go toward them, and marvel at how the pieces come together and fall apart to make new beginnings."
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Lyrically written and visually descriptive, I feel connected with the characters.
Tina Landow
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book. Maxine Clair is a really good writer. The books describes black peoples hurdles of the sixties and the main characters complicated life.
Nancy Johnson
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had never heard of October Suite, but Tayari Jones recommended it to me at a Tin House workshop. The storyline has some similar threads to what I'm writing. This is a beautiful novel that absorbed and entranced me from the first page to the last.

It's the story of two sisters in the 1950s who must reckon with motherhood, heartbreak, and a violent past that haunts them. October and Vergie will stay with me for a long time.
Jedah Mayberry
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
I admire any writer's ability to conjure lifelike beings in their fiction. I read Rattlebone some years back. I came away with a lifelike impression of October Brown–proud, a bit self-absorbed in her view of the world. Cognizant that some of the choices she had made would ultimately be deemed callous, hard-hearted whether or not that had been her intention. October Suite steps in and tells the rest of the tale, explains what happened to October's heart, the ways she had adopted as a means to pro ...more
Cinda Brea
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just completed Maxine Clair’s novel October Suite and actually feel as if I have left someone near and dear to me behind. I listened to the novel through my local library and then purchased the hardback copy to read. I found October Brown and her family and friends completely captivating. I knew these people deep down in my core. Ms. Clair’s descriptions of her characters were not laid out in long paragraphs with great detail but rather sprinkled throughout the novel. Each character changed and ...more
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: mothers
October Suite is a beautifully written novel about a young woman who finds love, looses it, gives a part of that love away and struggles to get it back. Maxine Clair tells a story that will inspire readers to appreciate all the challenges life throws at you and learn to live with what you've got while fighting for what you believe is right. October Suite made me laugh, cry, and angry at the ways people of color were treated in the 1950s and the fight against discrimination that still remains tod ...more
Martha Johnson
Feb 15, 2013 rated it liked it
We read this for our book club. I enjoyed the setting, the terms for African American teachers in those days, some of the jazz context (although it is hard to get excited about reading about music instead of listening to it.) The story was a little to neat the way it circled around. It was also a little hard to understand her love affair. However, there is no question that there is pain in the plot line about whether to raise or give up a child. I think the character development was tricky becau ...more
Jul 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! it is all about family relationships told through the experiences of two black sisters who are orphaned when their father murders their mother and is sent to prison. There is a lot of flashbacks, but it is well done and easy to follow--at least after I realized that sometimes you are listening to Carrie, their mother and sometime to the Aunts who raised them. I listened , which I felt added a lot because of the dialects being so well performed. Perhaps in print, there are indi ...more
Oct 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful and heartbreaking story of family loyalty and hardship. It was emotional without being sappy. It was one of those "quiet" books that will stay with you for a long time. I highly recommend, and since I agree with the reviewers who said it started out slowly - stick with it... it's well worth it.
Aug 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
This mid-century, mid-western saga was quite a good read. October Brown was a young woman faced with a life altering decision. It was clear that she was not yet ready to take on the responsibility of a child. Giving up that child was the best decision for the time period. The story kept me interested til the very end.
Jul 10, 2014 rated it liked it
1940's Ohio, a black woman named October gives birth to a son. Because the father is married to another woman, October gives the baby to her sister... and then regrets it. This is a story of family, love, regrets, and learning to live the choices you make. Set in the time of jazz and segregation.
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Great story about the hardships of an African-American teacher in the '50s. The main character has several ups and downs that take her through a life journey and lead her to a happy place. Great read.
Diane  Sugars
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
October Suite is a deep story with complex characters and intertwined storylines. The author breathes life into the characters and they seem to lift up off the page. October is a strong character and the story of her life is remarkable.
Lacey Lowder
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was interesting. I identified with October and the way she made rash decisions and then realized her mistakes. She seemed childish throughout most of the book but finally grew up toward the end. Overall, I enjoyed it
Sep 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Well written.

The relationship that developed with ... the name slips me. The brother of Cora's husband -- was an obvious ending which that irritated me a bit. I kept wondering when it was about to happen.
It started out with the feel of a romance novel. It got a lot better.
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was well written. It was very interesting the way the author wove all of the different stories into life of October. Loved the blues theme that was such a big part of this book.
Feb 23, 2011 rated it liked it
good story, but poorly edited.
May 04, 2009 rated it liked it
A lovely novel. I have no idea where or why I picked this up but it was very well written, gripping, and different read.
Apr 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: african-american
This was a very sad and heartwrenching novel.
Kathleen Basi
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautiful writing and a beautiful, heart-rending story.
Mary Hood
Jun 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Another historical fiction piece, this time about African American teachers in to 50s. Great story!
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
I probably enjoyed this book most for its setting, using familiar and recognizable Kansas City place names and music history: Wyandotte County, The Jones Store, Charlie Parker. Knowing only the basics of the history of desegregation and the civil rights movement from US History class in high school, and not having lived through that era, this book gave a fascinating window into everyday life during the 1950s. Not everything is a conflict or requires a personal crusade; it was often easier to acc ...more
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
I just could not get into this book. There were several occasions when I thought about putting it down and not finishing it, which is something I hate doing. I managed to complete the book, but it felt very disjointed to me. It seemed as though the last 10 or 15 pages started a new problem that somehow magically solved the whole book's conflict when the problem was finally shared between October and her sister. I probably would not read this again, if only because I did not find it engaging or w ...more
Rebekka Istrail
Oct 07, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Note to the protagonist: If you give your baby away and then later decide that you want him back, you won't get sympathy from me. Think through the consequences beforehand. And don't be loose with the handyman.
Alfreada Brown-Kelly
I just started reading October Suite.
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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Maxine Clair was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas, in the 1950s. She is a poet, short story writer, and novelist. She attentded the University of Kansas in Lawrence where she studied science. Clair went on to a career in medical technology as chief technologist at a children's hospital in Washington, D.C. It was while workingthere that Clair became interested in writing. She pursued and achi ...more
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“Grace just is. Nobody can explain it, and it's not something you can deserve. Whether you recognize it or not, whether you feel grateful for it or not, it just is. Guilty or innocent, condemned or redeemed, when you think that you can't go on, and when you think you've already gone on, grace is wider and deeper than you think, and it can change far more that you ever imagined.

There is no place where anything begins or ends, but by grace, everything comes in it's time.”
“When forces of nature are involved, fate gets all the blame.” 2 likes
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