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Wish You Well Paperback – April 3, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (April 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446699489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446699488
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.2 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (691 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Well written story and characters.
loves a mystery
I laughed and cried while reading this book and really felt the emotion that was pouring from the pages.
This is a story about human relationships and love, struggle and injustice.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

96 of 97 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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60 of 64 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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37 of 39 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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46 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Lee Wesselmann TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm still not quite sure what to make of Baldacci's WISH YOU WELL. Despite the hype, this is not a literary novel, although it does sometimes come close, but rather is commercial mainstream fiction aimed to sell well and not to challenge our preconceptions of the world. As long as you view it as just that - a commercial novel - you will be satisfied with this book.
In 1940, Jack Cardinal dies in a car accident that leaves his wife Amanda in a coma and his two children, Lou (short for Louisa) and Oz (Oscar), without a caretaker. Lou acts on her parents' last conversation and suggests the surviving family members go to Virginia to live with great-grandmother, Louisa, whom none of them has met. So off the three go: Lou, Oz, and comatose Amanda. There, Lou and Oz discover a hard but rewarding existence in the mountains where coal and poverty rule. They come to love Eugene, also known as "Hell No", Diamond who is a resourceful but uneducated orphan, and, most of all, Louisa herself, who has many lessons to teach the children.
Although the plot is somewhat predictable and Baldacci populates his Virgina mountains with a supporting cast of types (the greedy coal company men, the abusive man who tends to his mare's foaling despite his wife's difficult - and simultaneous, of course - labor, the black man who gets respect only from the good guys), Baldacci goes further with his main characters. Pre-teen Lou is well imagined, even if she sometimes acts too old for her age. Louisa, Lou's great-grandmother, has the most commanding presence of all the characters, with her mountain hardness tempered by a generous heart; her past and present all feel real, true to life.
You'll enjoy this book as long as you don't expect high literature.
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More About the Author

David Baldacci made a big splash on the literary scene with the publication of his first novel, ABSOLUTE POWER. A major motion picture adaptation followed, with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 27 novels, 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 worldwide. David has also published four novels for children.

David received his Bachelor's degree in political science 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 used books have been collected and distributed via area food banks.

David and his family live in Virginia.

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