""""Happy families are all alike,"""" said Tolstoy, and the O'Malley's are one of the happiest, if slightly crazy, families in current fiction. A Christmas Wedding continues the saga of Chucky, the youngest son who wants to live the quiet life of an accountant and raise a nice Catholic family. Fate, of course, has other plans for Chucky, in the person of the beautiful Rosemarie, his off-again on-again nemesis from the time he saved her life when he was a young man. Thrown out of Notre Dame on trumped up charges, Chucky ends up going to the University of Chicago. The only problem: his lifelong enemy Rosemarie is a fellow student. They decide to be """"just friends,"""" and while they battle with each other, """"just friends"""" turns into something neither of them expected. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
amiable third novel to feature the happy O'Malleys of Chicago (after A Midwinter's Tale and Younger Than Springtime) has a scant six pages devoted to the 1950 wedding itself, and not a sprig of holly in sight. The book primarily chronicles the 11 years following the holiday nuptials of Chucky O'Malley and his quasi-foster sister, Rosemarie Clancy. (When Rosemarie's mother died in an accidental fall when Rosemarie was in high school, the O'Malleys took her in.) At age 22, Chucky has already served time in the army, been kicked out of Notre Dame on false charges, and determined on a career in accounting. As the young couple's thoughts turn toward love and marriage, they must confront the demons from Rosemarie's past, including her troubling relationship with her father and the suspicious circumstances surrounding her mother's death as well as her predisposition to alcohol abuse. Greeley's habitual willingness to challenge Catholic dogma on matters such as sex and birth control, as well as his openness to ideas as far-ranging as those of Buddhism and evolutionary science, are in evidence here, and he is nothing if not politically opinionated. As a narrator, the gregarious Chucky, however, commits the sin of pride repeatedly and his self-congratulatory tone tends to grate. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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November 18, 2001
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Excerpt from A Christmas Wedding by Andrew M. Greeley
I nbsp; “What about the Buddhists, Father Danielou?” Rosemarie asked. The short French Jesuit in the black turtleneck sweater blinked through his thick glasses like a cheerful rabbit and then sped off in a whirlwind of barely intelligible English. I was in my final year at the University of Chicago. Rosemarie Helen Clancy, my quasi—foster sister, was in her second year. She expected me to listen to a lecture by this intense and slightly mysterious young priest. My attention wavered. I stole another look at our hostess, attentive and professional in her light gray sweater and dark blue skirt. Looking at Rosemarie, as I had told John Raven, was a proximate occasion of sin. He had dismissed this observation with a laugh. I thereupon added that I had reached such an advanced stage of carnality that I could not prevent my imagination from taking off her clothes. “Good for you,” he had said, “so long as you do it respectfully.” “My life would be in danger if I did it any other way.” So, more than a little bored by the French Jesuit, I permitted myself to undress her mentally, albeit respectfully-whatever that meant. To honor respect I forced my lascivious imagination to appreciate her fully clothed before it embarked on its exploration. “She has the look of the little people about her, poor sweet little thing,” my mother had once said. “Even if there are no little people. She’s the sort of faerie sprite you might see dancing over the bog of a spring night under a quarter moon.” “She is indeed,” my father had agreed, as he usually did. “When has either of you been out dancing on the bog of a spring night under a quarter moon?” I had demanded. “Why must you always be so literal, Chucky darling?” my mom asked, exasperated as she always was when the issue was my (feigned) indifference to Rosemarie. The image was apt, however. Rosemarie combined fragility, delicacy, and beauty in a fashion that might be appropriate for a faerie sprite—so long as that sprite was tough enough to play a mean and wicked game of tennis. “Maybe what you mean,” I said, with the sigh of one much put-upon, “is that, in her better moments, Rosemarie appears light and graceful, delicate and strong, not unlike Peter Pan’s Wendy perhaps.” “Isn’t that what I said, dear?” She was slim and slender, maybe five feet six inches tall (dangerously close to my generously estimated five eight), with trim and elegant breasts that caught every male eye (my own obviously included) and shapely legs that the said male eye noticed immediately after her breasts. Her long black hair framed a pale face that tended to flush red in moments of excitement or enthusiasm or anger. That face compelled your attention if your hormones let you get that far; it was the kind of face that might have emerged from the Pre-Raphaelites if any of them had painted from an Irish model. The flush was usually accompanied by the flashing of her blue eyes that signaled danger. A sprite surely, but one with a fierce temper and deep passions and also one whose fragility could break your heart. You wanted to kiss and caress her and at the same time protect her. As the Jesuit droned on I pursued my exploration of the faerie sprite, slowly and with appreciation and, I hope in retrospect, some measure of reverence. First the sweater, then the blouse under it, button by button, then the skirt, zipped down in the back, then the slip, and then, with infinite gentleness, the bra. I paused at the girdle and its attached nylons. It would not be respectful, I