Sunday, January 8, 2017


Rose is a young woman in the 1960s who does not love her husband and abandons him abruptly when she discovers that she’s pregnant.  She does seem to love her mother, however, but leaves both her husband and her mother in California for a Catholic home for unwed mothers in Habit, Kentucky.  She never divulges to the sisters there the fact that she is not, in fact, unwed.  She bonds with Sister Evangeline, who runs the kitchen, and Rose soon finds that she has a knack for cooking.  The striking thing about this home is that, of course, all of the occupants and their babies depart within nine months.  However, Sister Evangeline can discern certain things about unborn babies and predicts that Rose will not, in fact, give hers up for adoption.  Rose remains an enigma throughout the novel, never softening and rarely divulging even the tiniest scraps of information about her former life in California.  She lets down her guard only when she’s in a car.  I’m not sure I understand what the author was getting at here.  Does Rose only open up when she’s in motion?  Is that when she feels relaxed or confident or comfortable or what?  I so love this author’s other work, especially Taft and State of Wonder, but I did not love this book, which was Patchett’s first novel.  My biggest beef with it is that the pace was much too slow.  Plus, Rose was so inscrutable, and I never figured out why she so selfishly walked out on people who loved her, leaving sad and puzzled souls in her wake, although she may have just been incapable of loving anyone in return.  And the ending was a major disappointment for me.

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