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One True Thing: A Novel Paperback – August 8, 2006
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Quindlen hit a nerve with One True Thing, which captures an experience seldom dealt with in popular culture. (One exception: the sensitive 1996 film with Streep and Leonardo DiCaprio of the play Marvin's Room.) Though the heroine of One True Thing, Ellen Gulden, is a golden girl with two brothers who'll lose her career the instant she steps off the fast track, society concurs with her dad, who says, "It seems to me another woman is what's wanted here."
The book is a mother-daughter tale that should please fans of, say, The Joy Luck Club. It's not flashy, but it has a deep feel for the way children often discover, just before it's too late, who their parents really are. "Our parents are never people to us," Ellen writes, "they're always character traits.... There is only room in the lifeboat of your life for one, and you always choose yourself, and turn your parents into whatever it takes to keep you afloat." The mercy-killing subplot isn't gripping, but the palpable sense of deepening family intimacy certainly is. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
"You" says Ellen Gulden's father, as he throws her stuff out on the porch after she suggests he "hire a nurse" to take care of her dying mother, "have a Harvard education, but you have no heart."
And so starts her journey back into her family (she quits her job in the big city), back to the mother she never really identified with. So starts her learning process--about human nature...not just about books, or concepts. So starts her learning process about what love is, and what communication between human beings is. It is not just analyzing some dry tract, or being the "Star Pupil". It is far more complicated than that. And this is a complicated, super book.
With her mother's inevitable death, her learning process continues and she changes, finally, into a person "with a heart". I cannot express how moved I was by this book. I was absolutely entranced from page one and read it in three days. I sense that many of the people who review in this section ( the book section) like me, love to analyze things and appreciate beautiful, honest writing. Well, guess what? You get that here, but you also get something more--a look at yourself, and how you must communicate with your family and loved ones, in less "removed" ways. I did, anyway. I am going to try to see things from a more human perspective, because of this book. It is good to judge, and yet sometimes it is better to act from the heart. Oh: and I will TRY to COOK MORE. Can't swear I'll clean any more than I already do, but nobody's perfect. :)
This is a story of personal transformation and the destruction of illusions within a family. Ellen is guilted into caring for her dying mother, and she does it at first to garner her father's approval. As the novel unfolds, Ellen begins to see the reality of who her mother truly is. She discovers her mother is not just some cardboard figure who has wasted her life baking brownies for her family. ELlen learns life is so much more complicated than that. SHe learns things about her father that she never could have imagined.Read more ›
Quindlen's prose is melodious and its lyricism belies her stark observations about how we understand and are understood by those we love.
I was suprised at the adept adaptation of his novel for the screen. The film managed to capture some of the book's most arresting moments while adding important scenes perfectly in keeping with Quindlen's style and intention.
Some readers have complained that the men in the book are weak. That's true. They are weak, selfish, self-centered, lacking in compassion and empathy when those qualities are needed most.
This is the experience of many, many women who trudge on alone, particularly in times of crisis and great emotional pain in their lives and those of their families.
We have all certainly seen ordinary women die alone with great courage or use their strength and compassion to guide others toward a dignified death while the men in their lives slink into a corner, too upset to cope.
Men are generally forgiven this peculiar flaw, requiring even more women to step in and take their place. It is the lack of complaint by women that renders male behavior in this regard utterly invisible.
Ellen's dying mother, an icon of self-sacrifice, has helped to perpetuate this behavior in her husband by labeling it a weakness of character. Ellen herself will have none of his excuses, knowing that love involves the will as well as the heart, and so is powerfully reprimanded by her mother.
And hey -- where are her brothers while she struggles on alone as daddy keeps his extreme distance? Nobody even gives her a week off!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What an entrancing story! I could not put this book down. I loved the character development and the twists in the story line. One of my all time favorites. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Bobbi Coluni
One True Thing tells a tale that digs deep into a family. Anna Quindlen tells a story of a family and their relationships as they are staring death in the eye. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Marla
A heart - wrenching story. It captured the essence of being very ill and being healthy, sacrifice and endurance, the beauty of mother/ daughter relationship and bonding, living and... Read morePublished 28 days ago by Clarine Johnson
I loved this story.....hated for it to end.. She is one of my favorite authors and now will look for another of her books!!Published 1 month ago by Kindle Customer beth
Great story by a great author. Book arrived in a timely fashion in good condition.Published 2 months ago by Debbie Fowler
I like her writing as it is usually very precise, and writes often about family "values", situations, etc. Life in and of itself!Published 2 months ago by Teenie
I was so enjoying this book until the autopsy. Then it became so unrealistic to me that I just continued reading because I don't like not finishing a book. Read morePublished 3 months ago by trudy
I love the way Anna develops her characters they are so real and rich, and I feel like I've witnessed a slice of insight into another's experience.Published 3 months ago by M. Moquin
At the time...it was difficult to read, as I found this book in the hospital gift store while my mom was battling a rare stage 3-4 cancer. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Kelli Grauel