I loved this new novel by Ann Patchett; listening to it read on audio by Meryl Streep was wonderful.
This is an uneventful story of a happily married mother picking cherries on her northern Michigan cherry farm, during the pandemic lockdown, while telling her three grown daughters about her short acting career. The fact that she dated a guy during summer stock theater that became a huge movie star, adds all the needed intrigue and plot.
Each character comes alive in this, and the pace and tone are pitch perfect. The writing is excellent, telling us just enough, almost sparsely, without any extra words at all. All of it rings plausible, and even inevitable.
Central to the action is the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder, so you may get more out of this novel if you are familiar with that, although I don’t think that’s a necessary prerequisite for a thorough enjoyment of the book.
I found Meryl Streep’s telling of the story soothing and I like the contented, grounded character who narrates the text. It is such a relief after reading angst and strife and dystopian doom. Also, I’ve spent a lot of time in northern Michigan, and it was a delight to be back; it is such a rare but perfect setting for a novel.
This book felt like a relief after more difficult books, while not being fluffy at all. That’s hard to pull off. This is nice literature, which sounds like an oxymoron, but evidently it exists. Yes, controversial things happen or are discussed, but such is the scope of human experience, and they don’t ripple this lake much.
You may want to listen to Tom Lake too; I give this book a quietly satisfied 5 stars.