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Wish You Well Mass Market Paperback – Print, September 1, 2001

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4 Stars and Up Feature: Kitchens of the Great Midwest
"Foodies and those who love contemporary literature will devour this novel that is being compared to Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge. A standout." --Library Journal Learn more

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

David Baldacci has made a name for himself crafting big, burly legal thrillers with larger-than-life plots. However, Wish You Well, set in his native Virginia, is a tale of hope and wonder and "something of a miracle" just itching to happen. This shift from contentious urbanites to homespun hill families may come as a surprise to some of Baldacci's fans--but they can rest assured: the author's sense of pacing and exuberant prose have made the leap as well.

The year is 1940. After a car accident kills 12-year-old Lou's and 7-year-old Oz's father and leaves their mother Amanda in a catatonic trance, the children find themselves sent from New York City to their great-grandmother Louisa's farm in Virginia. Louisa's hardscrabble existence comes as a profound shock to precocious Lou and her shy brother. Still struggling to absorb their abandonment, they enter gamely into a life that tests them at every turn--and offers unimaginable rewards. For Lou, who dreams of following in her father's literary footsteps, the misty, craggy Appalachians and the equally rugged individuals who make the mountains their home quickly become invested with an almost mythic significance:

They took metal cups from nails on the wall and dipped them in the water, and then sat outside and drank. Louisa picked up the green leaves of a mountain spurge growing next to the springhouse, which revealed beautiful purple blossoms completely hidden underneath. "One of God's little secrets," she explained. Lou sat there, cup cradled between her dimpled knees, watching and listening to her great-grandmother in the pleasant shade...
Baldacci switches deftly between lovingly detailed character description (an area in which his debt to Laura Ingalls Wilder and Harper Lee seems evident) and patient development of the novel's central plot. If that plot is a trifle transparent--no one will be surprised by Amanda's miraculous recovery or by the children's eventual battle with the nefarious forces of industry in an attempt to save their great-grandmother's farm--neither reader nor character is the worse for it. After all, nostalgia is about remembering things one already knows. --Kelly Flynn --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Baldacci is writing what? That waspish question buzzed around publishing circles when Warner announced that the bestselling author of The Simple Truth, Absolute Power and other turbo-thrillers—an author generally esteemed more for his plots than for his characters or prose—was trying his hand at mainstream fiction, with a mid-century period novel set in the rural South, no less. Shades of John Grisham and A Painted House. But guess what? Clearly inspired by his subject—his maternal ancestors, he reveals in a foreword, hail from the mountain area he writes about here with such strength—Baldacci triumphs with his best novel yet, an utterly captivating drama centered on the difficult adjustment to rural life faced by two children when their New York City existence shatters in an auto accident. That tragedy, which opens the book with a flourish, sees acclaimed but impecunious riter Jack Cardinal dead, his wife in a coma and their daughter, Lou, 12, and son, Oz, seven, forced to move to the southwestern Virginia farm of their aged great-grandmother, Louisa. Several questions propel the subsequent story with vigor. Will the siblings learn to accept, even to love, their new life? Will their mother regain consciousness? And—in a development that takes the narrative into familiar Baldacci territory for a gripping legal showdown—will Louisa lose her land to industrial interests? Baldacci exults in high melodrama here, and it doesn't always work: the death of one major character will wring tears from the stoniest eyes, but the reappearance of another, though equally hanky-friendly, is outright manipulative. Even so, what the novel offers above all is bone-deep emotional truth, as its myriad characters—each, except for one cartoonish villain, as real as readers' own kin—grapple not just with issues of life and death but with the sufferings and joys of daily existence in a setting detailed with finely attuned attention and a warm sense of wonder. This novel has a huge heart—and millions of readers are going to love it. Agent, Aaron Priest. 600,000 first printing; 3-city author tour; simultaneous Time Warner Audiobook; foreign rights sold in the U.K., Bulgaria, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Turkey; world Spanish rights sold. (One-day laydown, Oct. 24)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books; 1st Edition 1st Printing edition (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446610100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446610100
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,047 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #887,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Baldacci published his first novel, ABSOLUTE POWER, in 1996. A major motion picture adaptation followed, with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 29 novels for adults, all of which have been national and international bestsellers; several have been adapted for film and television. His novels have been translated into more than 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries; over 110 million copies are in print. David has also published four novels for younger readers, including the #1 bestseller THE FINISHER, which is in development for feature film.

David received his Bachelor's degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, after which he practiced law in Washington, D.C.

While David is involved with several philanthropic organizations, his greatest efforts are dedicated to his family's Wish You Well Foundation®. Established by David and his wife, Michelle, the Wish You Well Foundation supports family and adult literacy in the United States by fostering and promoting the development and expansion of literacy and educational programs. In 2008 the Foundation partnered with Feeding America to launch Feeding Body & Mind, a program to address the connection between literacy, poverty and hunger. Through Feeding Body & Mind, more than 1 million new and gently used books have been collected and distributed through food banks to families in need.

David and his family live in Virginia.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

125 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 25, 2002
Format: Audio Cassette
Having read a number of David Baldacci's books, most of which are well written, engrossing thrillers, this one is quite different. It is not a thriller but, rather, a beautifully written, human drama, most of which takes place in the mountains of Virginia. In this unabridged, audiobook edition, the richness of the drama and the beauty of the writing is brought to life by the wonderful narration of Norma Lana, who manages to convey the down home sense of feeling that is palpable in the book.
This is a coming of age story. It is the story of the Cardinal family, as seen throught the young eyes of twelve year old Louisa Mae Cardinal, known as Lou, a precocious twelve year old, whose father is a highly acclaimed writer of note with great literary distinction but little commercial success. She lives with her beloved father, her mother, and her younger brother, Oz, in New York City. The year is 1940. The family is on the brink of moving to California, when tragedy strikes, and the lives of Lou, Oz, and their mother are forever changed.
Lou, Oz, and their now catatonic mother go to live with their paternal great-grandmother, Louisa, for whom Lou is named. This no nonsense, strong willed, loving matriarch lives high up in the the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, where Lou's father grew up, and that is where Lou and Oz will now grow up. They are strangers in a strange land, big city children now living on a farm without electricity, running water, or central heat. It is there that Lou comes of age and, together with her brother, Oz, has many new experiences. They are experiences that provide rights of passage and life lessons in friendship, loyalty, loss, and redemption. She gets a large dose of the good, the bad, and the ugly in life.
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77 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Michele Risner on November 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
When I picked up David Baldacci's "Wish you Well" I didn't know what to expect. I had read "The Winner", "Total Control" and "Saving Faith" so I think I was expecting something more along those lines. Instead, what I got was a touching book about hope and love. The kind of love that a child has for a parent. Pure love. The description of the mountains of Virginia where the story takes place was so real, that I could literally visualize it. At various points in the story I wanted to reach out and give Lou and Oz hugs...something I felt they were so desperately needing.
The outcome of the book was what I expected to a degree. The story does not disappoint and is now one of my favorite books of the year!
Well done Mr. Baldacci. You have impressed me again.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Charles Andrews on December 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm reading what I think is a really wonderful book now. Its called Wishing You Well by David Baldacci. He normally writes thrillers like Absolute Power, however, this time he steps out of his genre to write a really beautiful character novel. If you've read his other stuff as I have, it will take you 50 - 75 pages to realize that this is a special book. It's one of the best books I've read in a long time. I like character novels now so take my praise in that light. It's a wonderful read. The characters touch something way down inside of me. Maybe because I spent some time in Appalachia growing up and knew a lot of transplanted coal miners that this story is special, but I think it has a lot to say to everyone.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Arnold Harris on October 17, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Sentimentality in the First Degree!" This accusation leveled by Gene Kelly's character at Spencer Tracy in the classic "Inherit the Wind" came to mind as I read this novel by David Baldacci, a departure for one of our preeminent authors of the legal-suspense genre. While it is at times a warm and touching read, based upon Baldacci's family background in rural Virginia, it also leaves much to be desired in that it shamelessly veers into sentimentality, cliched characters and plot developments. Set in 1940, toward the end of the great depression and the eve of World WarII, "WishYou Well" follows the fortunes of 12 year-old Louisa Mae Cardinal, and her 7 year-old brother, Oscar(Oz), children of New York City, who, due to an automobile accident that claims the life of their father, an author, and leaves their mother comatose, are sent to live with their paternal grandmother in the mountains of Virginia. It is a hard-scrabble existence our young heroine and hero must adjust to, among people who labor from before dawn to sunset, surviving by the sweat of their proverbial brows at arduous farm chores. However, under the guiding hand of their stern, strong-willed, but loving family matriarch, a humble but noble country lawyer, a loyal black farm hand, and a Huck Finn-esque playmate,our young protagonists fare just fine, while learning valuable life lessons, and successfully passing several of youths' traditional rites of passage. Young Louisa, an aspiring writer also grapples with, and eventually comes to terms with her ambivalent feelings toward her deceased father, and her mother, whose vegetative state Louisa perceives as a form of abandonment.Read more ›
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