I have read all of Ann Patchett's books except What Next. This latest addition to her body of writing does not disappoint. It's a story of love and family, and also about politics, if you believe the information at the back of the book. She has an amazing gift for developing characters and also for telling a story that compels the reader to finish the book, all too soon.
After the lyrical engaging prose and intriguing character development of Bel Canto, I was really looking forward to another Patchett read. However, I found this to be somewhat of a dissapointment, atleast in terms of my expectations. Though I have PLENTY to say about Bel Canto's stand-out characteristics, the only thing about this book stood out as extraordinary was the characterization of Sullivan, who I found to be a strong and unique portrait of a man whose future is 'sullied' by an unexamined painful past he can neither confront nor truly forget. The rest of the book was full of half-hearted characterizations, relationships and ties that were intriguing yet not complete in their examinations, and a narrative that relied ENTIRELY too heavily on a running allegorical theme of racial and family politics that was over-done and under-effective. Patchett does have an easy writing style that makes her work enjoyable to read, but that style combined with the project she made of her racially significant allusions and allegories made a lot of the moments meant to be highly intense emotionally come across as hoaky and overdone.
I remain a Patchett fan, but this one will not be a "keeper" on my shelf.
We read this book for our Book Club Discussion Group. Almost everyone enjoyed it, but all of us felt it needed some expansion on parts of the story line and character development. We felt there were too many partially answered ?s. I recommend it, but would like to see the author take it more in-depth.
like all of patchett's lovely books... interesting story line... wonderful character development... great dialogue... beautiful poetic writing... this is a one or two sitting reading (if you can put it down)... now we must wait for her next one... sigh...
We read this book as a book club. Everyone enjoyed it! It's a fairly quick read with lots of interesting characters. Lots to think about and discuss!