Friday Reads, Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

Many times, I have selected audio books for their length but this time I selected for the narrator, Meryl Streep. Eleven and a half hours still left me wanting more. When it ended, I wondered, what will I do now? How can I follow that?  Meryl’s voice is maternal, comforting, and restorative. Her delivery assures you everything will be all right. Even the author recommends listening to the book rather than reading the text.

The book is told through the voice of Lara, wife to Joe, and mother to 3 grown daughters and that makes it especially wonderful for Meryl to read. Set during the pandemic, all of her girls have returned home to the family orchard in northern Michigan. In the days of weeks of being sequestered, the girls encourage and cajole their mother to tell the stores of her young life when she shared the stage and a romance with a now famous actor, Peter Duke, in a summer stock theater called Tom Lake.

Time travels from the present to the past in the form of Lara recalling her youth mostly for the girls but also through interior thoughts shared only with the reader. For anyone who has lost young love and looks back, this is a familiar theme. Hindsight without nostalgia can bring clarity. Love during different ages of life and appreciating mature love.

This is a novel without drama or angst. One friend who read it agreed with me in calling the novel a warm hug. A bucolic story read to you by Meryl Streep. What are you waiting for?

Patchett, Ann. Tom Lake. Harper. 2023

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