I've had "more by Ann Patchett" scribbled on my hard copy TBR list for close to two years, ever since I read and enjoyed her novel Bel Canto (my brief review here). I've seen Run listed on a few book reviews lately and finally got my hands on it. Patchett is, foremost, an excellent writer. It is a pleasure to read a well-crafted novel that holds no awkward dialog or seeks to manipulate the reader's emotions. Patchett is much like Ian McEwan in this respect.
The novel centers on Bernard Doyle and his motherless boys, Sullivan, Tip and Teddy. Tip and Teddy, biological black brothers, were adopted into this white Irish family as infants and adored by their adoptive mother, Bernadette Doyle. When she dies before they even enter elementary school, Bernard dedicates himself to raising the boys. The novel itself takes place in a 24-hour period when the boys are in their early 20s and Sullivan, the prodigal son, is in his early 30s.
Through an accident in a snowstorm, Doyle and his boys suddenly find that they must redefine their world to accomodate new information about a stranger who saves Tip's life and her little girl. Are their lives really what they think they are? Who are they, really, and what does it mean to be a family?
I liked this novel. I can't say I loved it because something was missing; there was some unfinished business. I am left dangling with few nagging questions about the characters, their decisions, and the statue of Mary that looked like Bernadette. I feel like this is a novel that should turn into a series about the Doyle family. The characters are compelling enough that I'd read more about each one, but somehow they weren't completed in Run.
But my criticism of the novel is weak, really, because I would recommend it. Patchett's writing is so fabulous and the characters are likeable, interesting, and compelling. Perhaps what I really needed to do was think a little more while I was reading instead of racing through to the end.
Also reviewed at:
The Bluestocking Society
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