Random House Reader’s Circle Selection, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller
Los Angeles Times Bestseller
Willa Award Finalist (Women Writing the West)
“Sands Hall’s first novel, Catching Heaven, is rich, warm, and utterly satisfying. It speaks to choices and mistakes that connect and separate us, as well as the human will to repair itself. This is a wonderful debut from a first-rate storyteller.”
About Catching Heaven
A small town in New Mexico forms the backdrop for a drama enacted between two sisters at a turning point in each of their lives in Catching Heaven by Sands Hall.
Tapping into her rich theatrical background and the legacy of her literary family, Sands Hall presents two very memorable characters – sisters whose stormy relationship and sibling rivalry are completely human and wonderfully absorbing.
Maud and Lizzie have each chosen to live and work in ways that disappoint their upper-middle-class parents’ ambitions for them. Intense sibling rivals, each sister feels that the parents love and accept the other more. Maud, just past forty, has given up trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood. Tired of the struggle, fed up with a going-nowhere relationship, and sad that she hasn’t had the children she thought she wanted, Maud takes off for Marengo, the southwestern town where her younger sister Lizzie lives. Lizzie, a painter who thought she’d be famous and live in Paris, supports herself and her three children by selling her paintings to a greeting card company. Lizzie loves having – and keeps having – babies, but envies what she believes is Maud’s free and glamorous world. While Maud settles happily in Marengo, Lizzie’s angry sense that Maud has taken over her life grows.
Sands Hall deftly interweaves the complex bonds and unspoken resentments between sisters, the aching search for home, connection and community, and the ever-changing landscape of family and those who define it into a novel ripe with discovery and wonder. Set against the immutable backdrop of the American Southwest, Catching Heaven illuminates that quiet place in the heart where solitude embraces serenity and dreams meet possibility.
Catching Heaven is a Random House Reader’s Circle Selection. The Reader’s Circle editions are selected with reading groups in mind. At the back of each book is an interview with the author and thoughtful discussion questions. It’s available here.
Sands Hall’s first novel, Catching Heaven, is rich, warm, and utterly satisfying. It speaks to choices and mistakes that connect and separate us, as well as the human will to repair itself. This is a wonderful debut from a first-rate storyteller.
[A] polished, accomplished debut…Endlessly intriguing…The prose is richly layered with metaphor and symbolism. For the discerning reader, nothing in this finely crafted work is extraneous.
Vibrant…Deftly reveals the push and pull between two sisters who love each other dearly, but who face new tensions when their lives collide in midcourse…A realistic story of two women trying to let go of old hurts and find love that will last.
Flashes of heart and soul…There is something achingly sad about these sisters’ realization that some things in life have simply passed them by. And it’s that simple truth that makes CATCHING HEAVEN a nice catch.
With fluid, elegant prose and a watchful eye for detail, Hall has crafted a compelling novel about love, loss, and hope.
In the small western town of Marengo one person arrives, one person returns, one person stays put. Each inhabits a private world of possibility, passion, and regret. Bring them together and you have Sands Hall’s CATCHING HEAVEN, a book that contains some of the realest fictional people you’ll ever meet.
Elegantly constructed, vividly conveyed, with heart enough for three.
Ms. Hall writes with a genuine gift for how we (humans) sound, and for sensing how we feel and think in our everyday lives. But she also seems to intuit what happens between these two realms – between the said and the thought and the felt. As Octavio Paz wrote, what’s ‘in between’ is where the poetry lies. And so it does in Catching Heaven.