How much should a mother divulge to her daughters? Ann Patchett weighs it up
In the new novel Tom Lake, a mother bonds with her daughters who are home for the pandemic. But how much of her past is she expected to share?
Who is she? Ann Patchett is an author and bookstore owner, known for titles like Bel Canto, State of Wonder, and her latest release, Tom Lake.
What's the big deal?
What are people saying? Patchett spoke with All Things Considered's Mary Louise Kelly to discuss some of the real life experiences that influenced her latest book, as well as her perspective on motherhood and the nature of family secrets.
On centering a mother-daughter narrative:
Well, I know it was true for so many of my friends that they were saying, "Oh, the pandemic. It's terrible. It's horrible. I'm so glad my kids are home."
And even if you don't have kids, I was so glad to not be running all over the place. I was glad my husband wasn't going to work every day. And so it was very easy for me to make the leap, to imagine something good that came out of something so bad.
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On the interest in cherries:
When I was on book tour for Bel Canto, my publicist told me that I had to go to a store in Petoskey, Michigan called Mclean and Eakin. I had to fly to Detroit in the morning, then fly to Traverse City on a tiny commuter plane, drive two hours to Petoskey, do an event and then do the whole thing in reverse all in one day.
But it turns out that it was the best bookstore I'd ever been to, and I fell in love with the Norcross family. They own that bookstore. And I remember when I went back to the airport in Traverse City, Michigan, you could buy a cup full of fresh cherries. And I sat in the airport and ate cherries and thought, this is the best thing that's ever happened. I became friends with them. I went back to visit them all the time. And so suddenly, I was hanging out with the cherry crowd.
On a key detail from Lara's love story that she chooses to withhold from everyone, including her daughters and husband:
I don't think of that as a secret. I think of that as private.
A secret is something that you are pointedly not telling someone, but something that's private is just yours. It just belongs to you. And something happened to Lara, and it was her own business. She tells the reader, but she doesn't tell her husband. And she doesn't tell her girls, and that's her right.
So what now?
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