About all saints
Set in a small, beachfront Catholic high school, narrated by a beautifully complex heroine—theology teacher Emily Hamilton—All Saints is at once a mystery, a love story, and a powerful rumination on secrets, temptation, and faith.
By life's midpoint, Emily has seen three husbands, dozens of friends, and hundreds of students come and go. And now her classroom, long her refuge, is proving to be anything but.
Though her popular, occasionally irreverent church history course is rich with stories of long-dead saints, Emily uneasily discovers that its her own tumultuous life that fascinates certain students most. She, in turn, finds herself drawn into their world, their secrets, and the fateful choices they make.
A novel of mystery and illumination, calling and choice, All Saints explores lives lived in a fragile sanctuary—from Emily and her many saints, to a priest facing his own mortality and a teenager tormented by desire. Critics agree: told with grace and compassion, this is a spellbinding novel of provocative storytelling.
For a Readers' guide, visit the Penguin Random House site for the book.
3 1/2 stars (out of 4) from People.
"a voice that is...real and endearing, bestowed with a truthful grace..."—Entertainment Weekly
"...one of the most distinctive and enjoyable character-driven novels in recent memory....It's a rare novel that both entertains you and makes you think. "All Saints" is a resounding success on both counts. Callanan's themes include faith, doubt and forgiveness, to name only a few, and his book is as perceptive about women as they come. All Saints is, in short, a splendid book. Funny, intense and intelligent, it's as unpredictable as [its protagonist] Emily Hamilton herself. Book groups in particular would be remiss in passing up All Saints.—The Capital Times
"...caustic and funny..."—Los Angeles Times
"...enthralling....The power of "All Saints" lies in Callanan's ability to evoke in us an unsettling empathy with Emily [the novel's heroine]."—Seattle Times
"...a haunting story of loss and awakening.... [The heroine] is no saint. But she is endlessly appealing as she unconsciously searches for deeper human connections in a world made bleak by loss."—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Luminous ... [In All Saints] refreshing insights into teen angst are matched by midlife crisis candor.... Callanan gets into [his heroine's] head with page-turning panache and authority."
"All Saints proves a fascinating and often thought-provoking read, told in meticulously polished prose. In teacher Emily Hamilton, who tells All Saints from the first person, Mr. Callanan has created one of the most interesting characters in recent memory."—Washington Times
"...Clear, sparkling prose.... Mysterious and poignantly disparate events come together in a life-affirming tapestry of threadbare hopes and dreams."—The Oklahoman
"...wry, self-effacing...it’s the sensual tone of his writing that makes All Saints work—Callanan...is trying to identify the point where religious faith and romantic need can peacefully coexist."—Washington City Paper
Featured pick of Marie Claire's "Filter" culture column: "Refreshing."
Recommended "nightstand reading": McClatchy Newspapers
“Liam Callanan is that rare thing, a writer adept and creative enough to inhabit the mind of character entirely different from himself. He does so completely, with absolute authenticity and emotional truth. Emily Hamilton is unapologetically acerbic and a delight to spend time with. This book is every bit as good as The Cloud Atlas, and that is saying a lot.”
—Ayelet Waldman, author of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits
"A jewel of a book: bright, sharp-witted, full of the secret yearnings of everyday American life. I found myself thinking about Emily Hamilton long after I closed the book…Realizing that I'd maybe even fallen a little in love with her. Other readers will fall for her, too—and for this book."
—Dan Chaon, author of You Remind Me of Me
"All Saints is about the mystery and danger of love, all kinds of love—so intense and funny and wise. Emily Hamilton has such a complicated, appealing voice—at once guarded and full of passion, energy, irreverence. She is a great and serious character, a real triumph. I couldn't put it down."
—Susan Shreve, author of A Student of Living Things
"Liam Callanan's talent is abundant and impressive, and All Saints is both marvelously comic and deeply moving. Emily Hamilton is a quirky, impassioned, funny, haunted, and flawed narrator who grows on you, won't let you go, and stays with you, long after you've finished the last page."
—Laurie Lynn Drummond, author of Anything You Say Can And Will Be Used Against You