Book Review

Ann Patchett, author of "Run," will appear at Diesel's Literary Luncheon Friday at the Malibu Performing Arts Center.

A family’s destiny takes a turn

By Laura Tate / Editor

“Run,” by Ann Patchett

295 pages, hardcover, $25.95, HarperCollins

“Run,” by Ann Patchett, who wrote the best selling novel “Bel Canto,” is a slow moving, yet absorbing detailed story of a father and his two sons who encounter a woman and her daughter in an accident during a snowstorm; and their lives are turned upside down in a matter of hours. It is also a story about family, and embraces the idea of how children can, and sometimes must, be raised by a village.

Bernard Doyle had been raising his two adopted sons, who are black, on his own after their adoptive mother died. There is a third son in the story, the older, natural son of Doyle and his dead wife, Bernadette. But this son, Sullivan, is mostly left unexplained and mainly used as a tool to move the story along, making connections between the younger boys and their father, and to explain the downfall of their father’s political life.

The loss of his own political life drives Doyle, a former mayor of Boston, to push his two younger sons, Tip and Teddy, who are both at the beginning of adulthood, in a direction he hopes will lead to great heights-the presidency of the United States if possible.

We meet them just before one of the many political meetings that their father has dragged Tip and Teddy to; the speaker at this event is none other than Jesse Jackson. And it is after this meeting that their lives take a turn, leading them down a path that causes pain, relief (mostly it seems to Sullivan), and enlightenment and new hopes for the Doyle family.

Patchett delves into the thoughts, hopes, dreams and frustrations of each character in painstaking detail, including the woman and her daughter whose accidental encounter with the Doyle family causes such turmoil and then new hope (although the character of Sullivan is mostly left alone, without resolution as to where his life might lead in the end when everyone else’s is mapped out, he is the first one to hear this woman and girl child’s story). And it isn’t merely an accident, but perhaps destiny that all should meet.

The ghost of Bernadette is behind almost every thought and action taken by the Doyle family-a ghost represented by a statue that bears her uncanny likeness and which carries a charming yet sad story, all its own, behind it.

Family is the theme of this book-of all classes, all races- and the hope, drive and struggles that parents have for their children’s happiness and prosperity, and realizations of their own dreams through their progeny.

Author Patchett, who won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in 2002 for her novel “Bel Canto,” gently, yet firmly, draws the reader into wanting to know more about each person in this drama that takes place during 24 hours, leaving hope within the reader as well.

Patchett will appear Oct. 5, 12:30 p.m., at the Malibu Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $70 and include lunch and a copy of “Run.” Tickets and more information can be obtained at Diesel, A Bookstore, 3890 Cross Creek Rd., Malibu;