Red Wheelbarrow Book Reviews

Renee Abigail Penelope Harold Meg

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from Renée's Reviews




by Ann Patchett
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

You pick up the book and you stay with it even though it is freezing cold, there is deep snow all over Boston, the cars are stuck, taxis won’t come and immediately you are taken to the scene of the accident.

This story which takes place over twenty-four hours, is the tale of Doyle, father of three sons who had always planned “to pass on all his interests to these sons, an interest in marine life, an interest in the Red Sox and Latin, twentieth-century American novels, Schubert, the Democratic Party and the Catholic Church. His plan had been to pass all this on to his children in equal measure in hopes of making them well-rounded, educated citizens. He had meant for them, at least one of them, to be the president of the United States.”

But it is not so simple. Two of the boys, young men when the novel takes place, are adopted, they are black and don’t know their parentage. The oldest son is Doyle’s biological son whose mother died when the children were young, of cancer. The story is about race, wealth, poverty, even religion comes in; choices that people have and choices they don’t have or don’t take.

“No one was offering him yesterday over today. No one got to choose anything where time was concerned...too much of life unfolded beyond his control.”

The book is about family; it is also about inheritance and education. Who got what from whom. Why? Many questions are raised and the reader is gripped by the beautiful writing, the wonderful descriptions of the city to which I was particularly sensitive since I hated Boston all the endless years we lived there just exactly because it was so freezing cold, there was so much snow. The character of Doyle, ex Mayor of the city, rings one hundred per cent true. If I were to make a negative comment I would say that the complications are on the one hand too many and on the other hand they are too easily resolved. But it is a good novel to read. Enjoy it.

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