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Showing 1-10 of 344 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 514 reviews
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.
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on March 14, 2017
I didn't really understand the main character, Rose, or why she did the things she did and we never really find out. It is a sad book, not exactly a tear jerker but not a feel good either. Ann Patchett has a way of developing a story slowly and carefully so that it has an aura of sadness? Melancholy? Mystery?
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on August 13, 2014
Ann Patchett is a favorite author. This is one of her first novels, that I just read. Great story, with the understanding of that span of time and the social changes there in. Her characters are always well developed with flaws and failings as well as varying degrees of likeability. Growing up Catholic, I relate well to the emotions and beliefs of many of the characters, but the story transcends that with spirituality coming in different guises. I have to believe the story continues with Sissy find out more truth as she gets into her 20's and 30's, and hope she can handle it. But with her emotional growth in the story and what she has been through in her young life, I see her as strong enough to handle anything that confronts her in the future... And life will lob some heavy stuff at her. Patchett's books always make you think beyond the endings of her books , and love that in this one.
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on December 25, 2013
A much enjoyed novel told from the point of view of three people: Rose, Son and Cecilia. Rose is damaged from her mother's divorce and finds her one love in life is to get in a car and drive. She marries Thomas and he teaches her to drive, even though he later regrets it. Eventually Rose just drives right out of his life and the life of the mother she adored. She is pregnant so she goes to a home for unwed mothers and finds a remarkable future-reading nun, Sister Bernadette. She stays and brings up her daughter Cecilia there. She also marries the handyman at the home. His nickname is Son, the perfect name for such a warm, loving, and kind person who's EQ is bulging at the top. Son raises Cecilia as his own daughter. All is happy until Rose receives a letter.

Bel Canto and State of Wonder take place in South America, the former in an Vice President's house in the capital city and the latter in the deepest, darkest, Amazon jungle. Patron Saint of Liars takes place in ordinary neighborhoods in the USA, one that you or I could have come from and yet Ann Patchett spins a fascinating and original story.

Sister Bernadette, the nun who could predict the sex of a child or foresee the future is an endearing character just as Mother Corinne is strict and unloving. Blind Sister Evangeline - who worked in the kitchen where Rose finds a calmness and a love of cooking - is actually a lousy cook but a wonderful friend. Ann Patchett has certainly rubbed shoulders with nuns and one writes what one knows.

Its easy to lose sympathy for Rose but actually she is a sad case. She runs from her unhappiness and cant find a way to deal with it. In doing so she makes others very unhappy. Well, 'nuff said. I recommend you read it and find our for yourself.
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on July 26, 2017
Ann Patchett is an astute storyteller. Her female characters in particular are well drawn. This story is told in three sections, each section written from the perspective of the three main characters: The mother, the 2nd husband, the daughter. Beautifully written. Descriptions are both spare and thorough and you don't notice the writer painting the picture, because the writing is so seamless. The three sections are an interesting device - I will say that the middle section felt a little clunky being written in first person from the perspective of the 2nd husband. I got a little bored in the middle. It feels like the writer was not completely sure of presenting a story from this character's perspective. The final section from the perspective of the daughter drew me back in and I liked the view through her eyes. I never completely understood the motive of the mother, why she choose the paths she chose, or if I really fully bought into her story. Nevertheless, the writing is so good, especially the dialogue in this book - it brings this story to life. For me, this was the reason the book resonates. The conversations between characters are so understated - realistic but poignant and natural - that I felt like I was an observer in the room witnessing every expression, gesture, voice and the silences. I don't waste much time on mediocre writing. If I don't like something even halfway through, I will put a book down. Life is short and I'm getting older, and there's no time for reading unremarkable books. I would read more of Ann Patchett's work.
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on January 21, 2014
I was initially drawn into this novel but wound up speeding through to the end as I lost sympathy with the main character. The book is three separate stories that never jelled in to one good narrative for me.I eventually lost all sympathy for the main character, Rose, who never became more than opaque and whose struggles did not seem to have any deep meaning. The novel had a cryptic ending with it looking like Rose's daughter was going to repeat her father's life. The home for unwed mother's was interesting and the book was well written, but I just could not feel engaged in the convoluted plot. . I was glad to be done with it. Depressing and meandering. Not a very notable book for me.
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on December 22, 2016
I loved this book and it left me wanting to know more about the characters. Each time I thought I saw a plot twist coming, I was surprised. The book didn't really end, it just stopped, leaving me to imagine each character's next chapter. Many people did not seem to like that, but I found it an intriguing way to tell a story.
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on November 16, 2016
I continue to be amazed as to how this prolific author comes up with so many different story lines and makes all of them interesting. In one sense this is a pretty straight forward story but told by Patchett it becomes much more than that
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on December 28, 2012
What a great book! It's about a woman who runs off to a home for unwedded pregnant girls and ends up staying and raising her daughter there. The book is broken down into thirds with each section being told by a different narrator. The characters were all so loveable even if you didn't particularly like or understand them.

When I first started reading the book, I was intrigued but found it a little slow. Luckily, my sister had recommended it and told me to keep reading, and I'm glad I did! The past few books I have read have all lacked in some way, whether it be poor character development or failing to wrap up loose ends. This book was different. Although there were a few loose ends that could have been tied up a bit better, the fact that they were left the way they were only adds to the story itself.

This was my second book by Anne Patchett (the other being State of Wonder) and they are so completely different. While the other book was also really great, this is one you want to curl up with on a windy and cloudy day (like today!).
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on February 11, 2014
Wow.
For this to have been Ann Patchett's first novel, it is absolutely marvelous. She is a first-class writer. The story is intriguing, involving a mother/daughter relationship as it unfolds in a convent full of nuns. To read about a person who is almost totally unresponsive and unavailable--emotionally, physically, and psychologically--to her own family was deeply disturbing to me.

Although the mother was not particularly mean in her unresponsiveness, her impact on her daughter and 2 husbands was abusive. For me, the story presented an aspect of humanity that I've never been exposed to, so the book was an exploration in an alien human life form--a person who only cared about her own life without regard to the impact she was having on anyone else.

The story was fascinating, with me rooting for the family relationship the whole time. This book involves deep character study and an engrossing subject matter. Highly recommend.
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