J. Courtney Sullivan

Bestselling Novelist
Read with Jenna Pick
Travels from: New York, NY

“Courtney has a unique way of connecting to the audience with her charm, humor, and intelligence.” — Westwinds Bookshop – BookBreeze Literary Festival

J. Courtney Sullivan is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Commencement, Maine, The Engagements, Saints For All Occasions, and Friends and Strangers. Maine was named a Best Book of the Year by Time magazine, and a Washington Post Notable Book for 2011. The Engagements was one of People Magazine’s Top Ten Books of 2013 and an Irish Times Best Book of the Year. It is soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, and it will be translated into 17 languages.

Saints For All Occasions, was named one of the ten best books of the year by the Washington Post, a New York Times Critic’s Pick for 2017, and a New England Book Award nominee. Her most recent novel Friends and Strangers is a deeply personal yet profound exploration of motherhood, friendships , and the role of privilege in determining how we shape our lives.

Courtney’s writing has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, New York Magazine, Elle, Glamour, Allure, Real Simple, and O: The Oprah Magazine, among many others. She is a co-editor, with Courtney Martin, of the essay anthology Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists. In 2017, she wrote the foreword to a new edition of one of her favorite children’s books, Anne of Green Gables, for Penguin Classics.

A Massachusetts native, Courtney now lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and two children.

Prepare an Invitation for:

Friends And Strangers

Knopf |
Novel

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A TODAY SHOW #ReadWithJenna BOOK CLUB PICK

An insightful, hilarious, and compulsively readable novel about a complicated friendship between two women who are at two very different stages in life, from the bestselling author of Maine and Saints for All Occasions.

Elisabeth, an accomplished journalist and new mother, is struggling to adjust to life in a small town after nearly twenty years in New York City. Alone in the house with her infant son all day (and awake with him much of the night), she feels uneasy, adrift. She neglects her work, losing untold hours to her Brooklyn moms’ Facebook group, her “influencer” sister’s Instagram feed, and text messages with the best friend she never sees anymore. Enter Sam, a senior at the local women’s college, whom Elisabeth hires to babysit. Sam is struggling to decide between the path she’s always planned on and a romantic entanglement that threatens her ambition. She’s worried about student loan debt and what the future holds. In short order, they grow close. But when Sam finds an unlikely kindred spirit in Elisabeth’s father-in-law, the true differences between the women’s lives become starkly revealed and a betrayal has devastating consequences.

A masterful exploration of motherhood, power dynamics, and privilege in its many forms, Friends and Strangers reveals how a single year can shape the course of a life.

Saints For All Occasions

Knopf |
Novel
A NATIONAL BESTSELLER

New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2017

“This year’s best book about family.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post

A sweeping, unforgettable novel from The New York Times best-selling author of Maine, about the hope, sacrifice, and love between two sisters and the secret that drives them apart.

Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Nora is the responsible sister; she’s shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn’t sure that she loves. Theresa is gregarious; she is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls on Dudley Street. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan—a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand. Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family with four grown children: John, a successful, if opportunistic, political consultant; Bridget, quietly preparing to have a baby with her girlfriend; Brian, at loose ends after a failed baseball career; and Patrick, Nora’s favorite, the beautiful boy who gives her no end of heartache. Estranged from her sister, Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont. Until, after decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago. A graceful, supremely moving novel from one of our most beloved writers, Saints for All Occasions explores the fascinating, funny, and sometimes achingly sad ways a secret at the heart of one family both breaks them and binds them together.

The Engagements

Vintage |
Novel

People Magazine Top 10 Best Book of the Year

The bestselling author of Maine returns with an exhilarating novel about Frances Gerety, the real pioneering ad woman who coined the famous slogan “A Diamond is Forever,” and four unique marriages that will test how true—or not—those words might be.

Evelyn has been married to her husband for forty years, but their son’s messy divorce has put them at rare odds; James, a beleaguered paramedic, has spent most of his marriage haunted by his wife’s family’s expectations; Delphine has thrown caution to the wind and left a peaceful French life for an exciting but rocky romance in America; and Kate, partnered with Dan for a decade, has seen every kind of wedding and has vowed never, ever, to have one of her own. As the stories connect to each other and to Frances’s legacy in surprising ways, The Engagements explores the complicated ins and outs of relationships, then, now, and forever.

Maine

Knopf |
Novel

In her best-selling debut, Commencement, J. Courtney Sullivan explored the complicated and contradictory landscape of female friendship. Now, in her highly anticipated second novel, Sullivan takes us into even richer territory, introducing four unforgettable women who have nothing in common but the fact that, like it or not, they’re family.

For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where children run in packs, showers are taken outdoors, and old Irish songs are sung around a piano. Their beachfront property, won on a barroom bet after the war, sits on three acres of sand and pine nestled between stretches of rocky coast, with one tree bearing the initials “A.H.” At the cottage, built by Kelleher hands, cocktail hour follows morning mass, nosy grandchildren snoop in drawers, and decades-old grudges simmer beneath the surface.

As three generations of Kelleher women descend on the property one summer, each brings her own hopes and fears. Maggie is thirty-two and pregnant, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her imperfect boyfriend the news; Ann Marie, a Kelleher by marriage, is channeling her domestic frustration into a dollhouse obsession and an ill-advised crush; Kathleen, the black sheep, never wanted to set foot in the cottage again; and Alice, the matriarch at the center of it all, would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, long ago.

By turns wickedly funny and achingly sad, Maine unveils the sibling rivalry, alcoholism, social climbing, and Catholic guilt at the center of one family, along with the abiding, often irrational love that keeps them coming back, every summer, to Maine and to each other.

Commencement

Vintage |
Novel

The bestselling author of Maine brings us a sparkling tale of friendship and a fascinating portrait of the first generation of women who have all the opportunities in the world, but no clear idea about what to choose.

Assigned to the same dorm their first year at Smith College, Celia, Bree, Sally, and April couldn’t have less in common. Celia, a lapsed Catholic, arrives with a bottle of vodka in her suitcase; beautiful Bree pines for the fiancé she left behind in Savannah; Sally, preppy and obsessively neat, is reeling from the loss of her mother; and April, a radical, redheaded feminist wearing a “Riot: Don’t Diet” T-shirt, wants a room transfer immediately. Written with radiant style and a wicked sense of humor, Commencement follows these unlikely friends through college and the years beyond, brilliantly capturing the complicated landscape facing young women today.

Telling Women’s Stories: Women in the Context of their Historical Moments

How Reading and Writing Fiction Helps to Build Radical Empathy

Fiction, Family and Faith: How Ancestry and Inter-generational Influence Determine Who a Woman is Allowed to Become

How Harriet the Spy Made Me a Novelist

Workshop: How to Turn Real Life Into Fiction

Courtney’s Articles and Essays

Courtney’s Press

Courtney’s Upcoming Events

Honors, Awards & Recognition

NYT Bestseller
IndieNext Pick
National Bestseller
Read with Jenna Pick
A New York Times “Book to Watch For”
A Washington Post “Book to Read this Summer”
A Vogue “Book to Read this June”
A People magazine “Best Book to Read this Summer”
A Good Morning America “Book You’ll Want to Read This Summer”
A Good Housekeeping “Best Beach Read”
A Bustle “Most Anticipated Book of 2020”
A SheReads “Most Anticipated Book of 2020”
A Real Simple “Top Pick for Summer”
A New York Post “Best Summer Book”

Media Kit

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