Ann Patchett is certainly one of my favorite authors.
I absolutely LOVED “State of Wonder” and “Run”.
“Bel Canto” and “Commonwealth” tie for second place.
The Magician’s Assistant was good too – I had that one as an audiobook!
“Truth and Beauty” is something else completely, not fiction, I enjoyed it as well.
All these books were written after her debut novel, (published in 1992), “The Patron Saint of Liars”, which I only recently got my hands on.
While I certainly enjoyed reading the book, I found it to be not as good as her later ones. This is to be expected, though perhaps my expectations that this would the case influenced my judgment. Her trademark movement of the plot forward from the point of view of different characters is a pleasure and I truly truly applaud her for her ability to deal with human drama in a moving way without turning the plot into a soap opera tear-jerker type of thing. You think you know exactly what’s going to happen, but then events don’t unfold that way.
It’s just that the basic story itself, about Rose from California, who walked out on everything, went to a temporary home intended for Catholic unwed mothers to have their babies in Kentucky, and ended up staying there for years, isn’t that the compelling. Though frankly, with all that is going on in the USA now related to the topic of abortions, you could say the plot is more relevant than ever.
I hesitate to say it but I think the book could have been improved by being a bit shorter, especially the part told by the man’s point of view.
BTW, the first few pages are a prologue and can be read on its own as well. The descriptions and the way she presents the events are stunning, riveting and so beautifully written! Perhaps I felt a bit of a let down afterward because of the comparison.
I certainly recommend this book, but not as your first book by Ann Patchett, if you have never read anything written by her before.