Friday, August 25, 2023

Audio Book Review: Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

Genre: Adult Fiction/Audio Book
Publisher: Harper
Pub. Date: August 1, 2023
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Author: Commonwealth
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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."

The Nelson family lives on an idyllic cherry farm in Michigan. The pandemic has just begun and Joe and Lara Nelson are sheltering in place along with their adult daughters who will help the family pick all the fruit. Peter Duke, a celebrity just died, and this sparks much discussion as their mother once had a summer romance with him during summer theater in Michigan. Before their mother became "their mother" and a cherry farmer, she was once an actor who brushed elbows with some greats. To pass the time, the girls ask their mother to share the stories of her summer at Tom Lake, the theater group, and her blossoming romance with Peter Duke. Patchett weaves the story well by sharing the past and the present as the girls start to learn more about their mother (at least what she is willing to share) as well more about themselves, the seasons of a person's life and the compromises we make. Ann Patchett's Tom Lake is an audio book with a slow burn that is enhanced by the masterful narration of Meryl Streep.

I'm not going to lie, at first I didn't understand what all the fuss was about Tom Lake. The first 20% of the audio book was a very slow start, but before I realized it, I was sucked into the story of Lara, her experience in theater, her time at the production of Our Town, and how she ended up on the cherry farm. Patchett told the story slowly, thoughtfully, and luxuriously. It unfolded like a hot summer day and was very reflective. As Lara shared her story with her daughters, I enjoyed their commentary, witty banter, and observations. Patchett truly captures the art of storytelling and at times it felt a bit magical, especially with the setting of an idyllic farm surrounded by cherry trees. There were so many layers and threads to Tom Lake that by the time I got to the end of the novel, I felt like I knew Lara and her family.


The absolute best part of Tom Lake is the narration of Meryl Streep; in fact, I am not sure I would have liked the novel as much without listening to it. She brought it to life just as I would have hoped and made the listen blissful. I hope she continues to narrate more novels because the audio version of Tom Lake is one of my favorites of the year. 

Tom Lake is a beautifully written novel with a slow burn that stayed with me. Here's one of my favorite lines that I wanted to marinate in:  

"There is no explaining this simple truth about life: you will forget much of it. The painful things you were certain you’d never be able to let go? Now you’re not entirely sure when they happened, while the thrilling parts, the heart-stopping joys, splintered and scattered and became something else. Memories are then replaced by different joys and larger sorrows, and unbelievably, those things get knocked aside as well."


So, with that said, Meryl Streep is brilliant and I recommend the audio version of Tom Lake. The ending was a bit sad and haunting in a sense, but it's a quiet summer novel that is absolutely worth it. Have you read Tom Lake? Are you a fan of Ann Patchett? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.



No comments:

Post a Comment

I really appreciate your comments. Thank you!

Design by: Designer Blogs