Okay, finally, a great book. You know how it is, when you find the thing you’ve been looking for all along, that feeling of relief and delight? That’s how it felt to read this book.
Everyone is running in this book, running for office, running toward their destiny, running away from their shame, running around the track. A family of men (widower Bernard, former mayor of Boston; eldest son Sullivan, the ne’er-do-well; younger adopted sons Tip and Teddy) are accidentally reunited with the missing female half of their family, Tennessee (birth mother to Tip and Teddy) and her daughter Kenya. Tip and Teddy (who are almost grown) need a mother. Bernard and Sullivan need people they can nurture. Tennessee and Kenya are in dire straits. This book asks the question, what defines a family? What makes someone a mother, or a father, or a daughter?
Everything in this book feels real. The writing is beautiful, the plotting is intricate and interesting, the pace is perfect. I read it in two days and loved it. Did I love it as much as I loved Bel Canto? I’m not sure, but that’s not the point. This is a great book.
As usual, the New York Times says it better than I could. (Note how this reviewer takes a backhanded swipe at Ann Packer, a writer who is NOT Ann Patchett, and who is vastly overrated, as far as I'm concerned.)
(Book 25, 2008)