Sep 25, 2008

Run by Ann Patchett

I received Run by Ann Patchett from Everyday I Write the Book Blog as part of a book club discussion. After participating in Book Club Girl's radio discussion of the book with Ann Patchett, I was happy to learn that some of my thoughts about Bernard Doyle, the father in the book, were on target. He reminded me of Joe Kennedy, Sr., because of his drive to get his sons interested in politics and becoming president some day. He pushes his sons into watching other politicians speak at seminars and lectures even when it is obvious that these boys are not interested in politics at all. I enjoyed the Web radio discussion with Patchett about her writing process and how difficult it has become for her to write books as her life has grown more complex. She says that she examines her novel ideas in depth to uncover her characters motivations.

***Spoiler Alert***

This story centers on the Doyle family, led by Bernard a former mayor of Boston. Bernadette and Bernard have one son of their own, but when she miscarries a second child, they adopt two African American sons. These sons become Doyle's focus after he loses his wife and a fateful accident causes Sullivan to break free from the family and go his own way. While Bernard wishes his sons would enjoy politics as much as he does, his adopted sons have their own life designs. Tip is interested in icthyiology and Teddy spends a great deal of time with their faith healing uncle Father Sullivan.

One night, the Doyles--minus Sullivan--are leaving a political speech by Jesse Jackson at Harvard University when a mysterious woman saves Tip from being hit by a car. The rest of the story unfolds quickly within a 24-hour period to reveal years of fear, anguish, and regret.

***End Spoiler Alert***

Although I enjoyed uncovering the many layers to the lives of these characters, I was often distracted by some of the lengthier passages from Father Sullivan or about Father Sullivan's healing power. These passages made it seem like there was more to this story, which never really came to fruition. Father Sullivan does play a role in the boys' lives, but the passages dedicated to him could have been shorter. Patchett's use of language is very languid and it flowed well in many sections of the book. The exchange between Tennessee and her old friend after the car accident foreshadowed quite a bit of the remaining plot points.

One of my biggest concerns about the beginning of the novel was the rough time I had telling the difference between Tip and Teddy; they almost seemed like the same person other than their different interests. If Patchett had chosen another name for Tip, it may have worked better. Teddy's name was appropriate given his kind nature. Kenya's name seemed cliche to me, especially given that her favorite thing to do was run.

I have not read other Patchett novels, though I do have Bel Canto in my TBR pile. I would recommend this book for readers of Patchett, but from what I understand from others it is not the best example of her work.

I also wanted to alert everyone to the book club discussion of Run by Ann Patchett on Everyday I Write the Book Blog. I'm going to head over there now and chat along. Won't you?

Also Reviewed By:
Everyday I Write the Book Blog
A Girl Walks Into A Bookstore
Diary of an Eccentric

B&B Ex Libris
Fizzy Thoughts
Peeking Between the Pages


Katherine said...

I've also reviewed the book, here: I had mixed feelings about it...

Serena said...

I also had mixed feelings about it, but it was tough for me to get started reading.

The Bookworm said...

Great review, it does sound like an interesting read.

Serena said...

It was a good read, but I had a hard time staying focused in sections of the book.

Jill said...

I haven't read Patchett yet, but I'll get to her...someday!

=) Jill

Anonymous said...

I agree about the Father Sullivan passages. I think the names Bernard-Bernadette and Tip-Teddy-Tennessee make it difficult to follow. She should've mixed them up a bit, but then again, there are those families where the names sound alike.

My review is here:

And I added your link to my blog.

Sandra said...

I enjoyed your review. Bel Canto was one of my year's favourites when it came out. I then read The Patron Saint of Liars which was serious but a hoot as well, I enjoyed it very much. I gave them both 4 1/2 stars out of 5.I really like her writing. Run was pretty good for me, but I could really only give it 3 1/2 stars. I really can't put my finger on the reason. I would still read anything Patchett writes though. I have acquired her other three books by swap recently and I hope to find at least one very good one among them. I hope you get to read Bel Canto soon, I think it's her best so far.

Anonymous said...

I have run across the name problem before and wonder why author's opt to do something like that.

Great review!

Serena said...

I think I will give Bel Canto a try, but it will have to be after a few other books are read and reviewed. LOL The TBR pile is rising out of control!

Anonymous said...

Good candid review. I've just started hearing of Patchett I've read two reviews of Run now (yours and Anna's over on Dairy/Eccentric blog) and you both had different impressions. I'm betting the best intro to her writing would be Bel Canto and if I really enjoy that read then Run would make a better impression as another side of an author I already appreciate.

Marvin Blogs at Free Spirit:
Eye twitter 2 -

Serena said...

thanks for stopping by Marvin. Anna and I will have differing views of the same book sometimes. This happens to be one of those cases.

Anonymous said...

I loved Bel Canto.

I really identified with what you said about certain passages played a role in the storyline but could have been shorter.

I felt this way about certain aspects of the book I just finished, Immortal.

Anonymous said...

I agree about Father Sullivan...that was the one part of the book I could have done without.
I'm still not sold on Bel Canto, but I'm going to give Patron Saints and Magician's Assistant a try.

Darlene said...

Serena, I agree on the part of Father Sullivan although I wonder if that wasn't in preparation for him knowing that more was wrong with Tennesse. I don't know. I do think that this book was missing some things that I would have liked to have seen more of but still a good story.