Top positive review
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Enjoyable major talent.
on January 20, 2017
Ann Patchett has always been one of my favorites - both for her writing and for her role as an independent bookstore owner - setting up Parnassus books when both Borders and Barnes & Noble abandoned Nashville as "not profitable enough". What I have noticed in this (her first) as well as in other works is that her writing disappears and one finds oneself pulled into the story and moving through it as if part of it. I paused for a moment to see if I could determine why this happens and it dawned on me that it is because her prose and story line are straightforward and relatively simple. No 3 or 4 syllable words when 1 or 2 will do. Not the simplicity of much "young adult" writing with a lack of emphasis on description and depth of characterization, but the simplicity of a truly talented writer. Think that is an easy feat to accomplish? Not by a long shot.
At any rate, I enjoyed the book despite the central character being my least favorite type of character, a woman who seems to be "half a bubble off of plumb" who, upon discovering she is pregnant decides to ditch her loving husband in Marina Del Ray, California, jump in the car and take off for who knows where. She ends up in a home for unwed mothers (formerly a luxury hotel set up to take advantage of the local springs) in Kentucky run by a group of nuns. I won't spoil the plot details but she ends up staying beyond the target date for some rather interesting reasons. (Reminds me in a way of the Cheryl Strayed character who bails on her husband when her mother dies as feels the solution to her problems is to hike the Cascade Trail despite no experience or training. Brings up the line "I know two ways to deal with women. Neither works."
But I digress, despite the inexplicable (to me, at least) premise, I enjoyed the story and the characters. Those who have not been exposed to Ann's writing might find this an interesting start. And ladies, before you dump on me, read the story and see if you can 'splain the reason she bailed on her first husband! Probably great grist for a book club discussion.