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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