It is the summer of 1960 in Atkinson, Vermont. Hardworking Marie Fermoyle is a strong but vulnerable woman whose divorce in those times marks her as woman of questionable virtue. Her loneliness and ambition for her children’s success in life make her an easy target for the dangerous con man, Omar Duvall. Duvall has been on the run all of his life, and now, most recently, from the murder of a young man in his itinerant team of magazine and bible salesmen.
Marie’s children are Alice, seventeen, who becomes involved with a troubled young priest and is also being pursued by Blue Mooney, the outcast town hood; Norm, sixteen—hotheaded and idealistic, who sees himself as the man of the house; and Benjy, twelve—isolated and misunderstood, and so desperate for his mother’s happiness that he hides the deadly truth he knows about Omar Duvall.
Sam Fermoyle is Marie’s alcoholic ex-husband and the children’s embarrassing father. He lives with his bed-ridden, senile mother, Bridget, his bitter and deeply religious sister, Helen, and his brother-in-law, the endearing Renie LaChance who makes anonymous “love” calls from the tiny centerfold-papered bathroom of his failing appliance store. And, next door to Marie and her children are the Klubocks—who in contrast to the Fermoyles live an orderly life in their lovely home—all that Marie has ever wanted.
In this modern classic, each voice is a song, with each song revealing the secret joys and pain of small town American life. Songs In Ordinary Time is a masterful epic of the everyday, illuminating the kaleidoscope of lives that tell the compelling story of this unforgettable family – and the brilliantly rendered and indomitable Marie Fermoyle.
Songs In Ordinary Time is an Oprah’s Book Club selection.