Place Published: Braddock, PA
Publisher: Alleyway Books
Date Published: February 2016
Set near the Maine coast, Rachel May’s taut and probing new work of fiction, The Benedictines, conjures up the spirit of Sara Orne Jewett’s atmospheric landscapes. With prose that will have you turning pages in anticipation, May follows Annie James, a passionate, young artist whose decision to take a job teaching for a Benedictine school brings her deep into her students’ lives and up against the limits of control…and, for Annie, the limits of passion. With generosity and insight, May traces the deep conflicts between the human heart and the rules that heart invents. Like the quiet beauty of Maine, The Benedictines is a book that will stay with you for a long, long time.
The Benedictines is a taut, vivid, spellbinding, and gracefully written novel. I was amazed at how much power and beauty can be packed into so few pages. Rachel May is really, really good.
—Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried
Rachel May’s strange and beautiful vision captured me the very first time I read her writing, years ago, when I was the fiction editor of the Michigan Quarterly Review. We were thrilled to publish her work there, and eagerly awaited more. Her debut novel delivers richly: in The Benedictines, May uses vignettes to render a complex place and people so immediately alive that one can’t help but turn the pages faster and faster. May’s characteristically offbeat, generous humor is a joy, as is her brilliant portrayal of a community navigating vital questions of teaching, belief, and humanity.
—V.V. Ganeshananthan, author of Love Marriage: A Novel
Rachel May is the author of The Experiments: A Legend in Pictures and Words (Dusie Press) and Quilting with a Modern Slant (Storey/Workman), a Library Journal and Amazon.com Best Book of 2014. An Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Northern Michigan University, her writing has been recently published in LARB, The Volta, Michigan Quarterly, Indiana Review, and many other journals, and she's been awarded residencies from The Millay Colony and The Vermont Studio Center.