I loved this book. It's a rare thing when a book is so engrossing that I can shut out the world around me entirely without any effort. I was lost in the characters from the first chapter. What a writer! I've never read Anna Quindlen before and I'm dying to read some of her other books now. She has a way of making you feel as if you are living in their house with them, absorbing their raw pain, their beauty and despair. I started reading this book to help me slow down on Reading 'Cutting for Stone' because I want to race through it. Instead, I ended up getting so absorbed in the story of One True Thing that I could not put it down long enough to read a chapter or two of CFS. And that's saying a lot because I'm loving CFS. The author knows her characters inside and out and breaths life into each of them. Though the story itself can be a dis-settling subject--I never once felt like I couldn't take such sadness. It's emotional--but well worth the ride
One True Thing is a film starring Meryl Streep as the cancer-stricken homemaker mother, Renee Zellweger as the daughter who quits her top-dog job to care for her, and William Hurt as the chilly professor who lets the women in the family do the heavy emotional lifting dying requires. But the real star of the project remains former New York Times everyday-life columnist Anna Quindlen, who quit her top-dog job to write novels (and who took time off from college to nurse her own dying mother).
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.
I very much enjoyed this book. It is really a prime example of literary fiction, with all of the discussion of classic novels, though at its heart, it is a story about family. It was quite an engrossing book and a fast read. Yet for being less than three hundred pages it seemed full of words... concise, but flowery... an oxymoron, I suppose, but somehow fitting.