Saturday, April 20, 2024

Authors I've Been Meaning to Read - Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

At the beginning of the year I made a list of authors that I've been saying I need to read and commit to reading at least one book by each of the authors in 2024.  Here's my thoughts on one of those books/authors.

Goodreads:  Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

Blurb:  In the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters return to the family's orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theater company called Tom Lake. As Lara recalls the past, her daughters examine their own lives and relationship with their mother, and are forced to reconsider the world and everything they thought they knew.

Tom Lake is a meditation on youthful love, married love, and the lives parents have led before their children were born. Both hopeful and elegiac, it explores what it means to be happy even when the world is falling apart. As in all of her novels, Ann Patchett combines compelling narrative artistry with piercing insights into family dynamics. The result is a rich and luminous story, told with profound intelligence and emotional subtlety, that demonstrates once again why she is one of the most revered and acclaimed literary talents working today.

My Thoughts:  This is a deceptively simple book.  In theory I could summarize it in one sentence - "A mother tells her three adult daughters the story of her young adulthood focusing on one summer she spent doing summer stock with an actor who would go on to be famous".  And that is what happened.  But there is so much more.  It's a coming of age and children realizing that their parents had an existence that didn't involve them.  It's figuring out what it is that's really important to you and what you really want out of life.  It's also appreciating what you have despite the challenges. It's a slow moving book but one I really enjoyed.  My main complaint is an interaction that occured towards the end in an encounter of two characters.  It just felt needlessy crass and out of character for Lara as well as just having a randomness to it.   It hit a sour note for me where I had enjoyed the rest of the book.  That said I did enjoy this book and highly recommend the audio that is read by the wonderful Meryl Streep.  I'm looking forward to trying more from this author.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)


  1. Ann Patchett is one of those writers, I think, who can write both fiction and nonfiction equally well. I tend to like her nonfiction just a smidge more.

  2. I've heard such good things about this book! I've read two books by Patchett: State of Wonder and The Magician's Assistant. And I liked them both, but didn't love them. And I had issues with the ending of State of Wonder. But other people didn' maybe it was just me. ;D

  3. I've heard of this book quite a bit, not sure I want to read it but great you got into it. You got a lot out of it. I like that bit about the needlessly crass interaction - that's a good way of putting something jarring - I must remember it.

  4. I like the sound of this one - thank you for a lovely review:)). And the prospect of listening to Meryl Streep's narration is a strong inducement.

  5. I loved this book (along with everything else by Ann Patchett) but I know you are not alone in your feelings about that one particular scene. Meryl Streep's narration was so, so good.