Saturday, September 02, 2006

Anna Quindlen

I went with Ian to the Public Library Association conference in Boston this year. I didn’t attend the conference but I did purchase a vendors’ pass which gave me access to the many publishing houses present. Random House offered a sign-up for staff responsible for reading groups, which was right up my alley, so I put down my John Henry. Nothing came for several months, but lately I've been receiving about a book a month. The last one was Anna Quindlen’s latest novel.

Just let me say that while I don’t read Quindlen’s columns or her published collected columns, I have read her previous four works of fiction and was the first name on our library’s hold list for her upcoming book, Rise and Shine. I couldn’t believe that they were promoting someone whom I thought all readers already knew – until staff in the break room would ask me to hold up what I was reading and then express puzzlement. I was surprised because I think she's in the league with Anne Tyler and Anne Rivers Siddons.

So if this is a new author to you, let me introduce her a different way. Her book Black and Blue was an Oprah Club Book, and her book One True Thing, published in 1994, was made into a movie in 1998 with Meryl Streep and William Hurt. However, my favorite of her novels is her fourth, Blessings, which I’m planning on re-reading this winter.

Her latest book Rise and Shine is placed in Manhattan and is the name of the morning TV news show for which Meghan is a co-host and famous for it. Her sister Bridget, the narrator, is a social worker in the Bronx. The sisters though very different women are very close, perhaps by virtue of being orphaned at an early age. I ask three things of a novel: sense of place, character development and plot, in that order. This book delivers all three, and while a little weak on plot, she delivers the story in ringing prose. All the plot in the world won’t keep me reading if the prose if weak, but good prose gets me every time. Plus, I’m a sucker for stories set in Manhattan. So she is my pick as Most Favored Author this month.

No comments: