Missed Connections




Missed Connections
Random House, 1983

Missed Connections is an understated, deeply moving novel about a working-class family in a Boston suburb, about two sisters’ love for the same man, and the powerful and disturbing effects of this love on them and on everyone around them. Christine Scarpa is born and grew up in the Nunnery Grounds section of Somerville. She’s close to her large family, especially to her asthmatic, gentle, slightly other-worldly sister Anna. The Nunnery Grounds is a tightly-knit world but a small one, and by her last year in high school Christine begins to feel its limitations. Part of the reason for her heightened awareness is her intense involvement with Sandy Cole, who works in an auto body shop, but encourages her to see her life as something she can make choices about. Which she does, leaving home for Boston and a more sophisticated milieu. As time passes, the connections between Christine and Sandy and Sandy and Anna become more and more complex. When Christine decides to come home again, the tension in the Scarpa family becomes almost unbearable. Missed Connections is a remarkably affecting story of love, family feeling, and a sense of place.

Praise and Reviews

Individual sequences here are splendid, ironic, touching, and the Italian/Irish milieu is, as before, projected with uncommon ease and haunting particularity.
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Missed Connections emerges from a simple beginning to become a novel of considerable complexity. Elaine Ford seems to be saying that the families that dominate our lives do so partly because we want them to, because we hesitate to make connections elsewhere. What is perhaps most impressive about this novel is the way its small parts add up to a whole. Each episode is understated, but in their accretion they wield an enormous power. The result is a fully rounded portrait that is both terribly clear and terribly sad.
Washington Post

Elaine Ford’s novel is about the ties that bind us to each other—love, obligation, habit—and about growing up, becoming independent, severing some ties, strengthening others and establishing new ones. It is a lovely tale, understated and wise. Missed Connections is missing nothing.
Cleveland Plain Dealer

In Missed Connections, Elaine Ford examines the psychological baggage most of us carry around because of the real or imagined expectations and obligations with which our families burden us… Ms. Ford’s characters are unremarkable in their ordinariness and deeply compelling in their pains and delights. They are very real and multidimensional. Their personalities are subtly drawn out in stories from the past and in quietly drawn episodes in the present.
Kansas City Star

Missed Connections, a haunting story of two sisters’ love—for each other and for the same man—is a brilliantly subtle and powerful exploration of family dynamics, of sexual awakening and of the pain that is part of growth.
St. Louis Post Dispatch

What’s lovely about this novel is the patience and care with which it details these loyalties and rivalries, the small slights and kindnesses, the clashes, silences, and nuances of family discourse. Elaine Ford is never less than sympathetic, sensitive, evenhanded. Her narrative tone is understated and so gentle that we never cease to feel her respect for the Scarpas’ dignity. Even in passion and anger, her characters remain civilized, remarkably decorous and restrained…. There’s much to admire in Missed Connections: its generosity, its seriousness, its sense of place and most notably its determination to illuminate the most ordinary of lives.
New York Times Book Review