Summary and book reviews of Run by Ann Patchett

Run
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2007,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2008,
    320 pages.

    Publication Information

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Book Reviewed by:
Lee Gooden

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About this Book

Book Summary

Since their mother's death, Tip and Teddy Doyle have been raised by their loving, possessive, and ambitious father. As the former mayor of Boston, Bernard Doyle wants to see his sons in politics, a dream the boys have never shared. But when an argument in a blinding New England snowstorm inadvertently causes an accident that involves a stranger and her child, all Bernard Doyle cares about is his ability to keep his children—all his children—safe.

Set over a period of twenty-four hours, Run takes us from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard to a home for retired Catholic priests in downtown Boston. It shows us how worlds of privilege and poverty can coexist only blocks apart from each other, and how family can include people you've never even met. As in her bestselling novel Bel Canto, Ann Patchett illustrates the humanity that connects disparate lives, weaving several stories into one surprising and endlessly moving narrative. Suspenseful and stunningly executed, Run is ultimately a novel about secrets, duty, responsibility, and the lengths we will go to protect our children.

Chapter One

Bernadette had been dead two weeks when her sisters showed up in Doyle's living room asking for the statue back. They had no legal claim to it, of course, she never would have thought of leaving it to them, but the statue had been in their family for four generations, passing down a maternal line from mother to daughter, and it was their intention to hold with tradition. Bernadette had no daughters. In every generation there had been an uncomfortable moment when the mother had to choose between her children as there was only one statue and these Irish Catholic families were large. The rule in the past had always been to give it to the girl who most resembled the statue, and among Bernadette and her siblings, not that the boys ever had a chance, Bernadette was the clear winner: iron rust hair, dark blue eyes, a long, narrow nose. It was frankly unnerving at times how much the carving looked like Bernadette, as if she had at some point modeled in a blue robe with a halo ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The first chapter of the book focused on the statue and who should rightfully inherit it. How did this chapter affect your impressions of the book? Did the statue play the role you thought it would?
  2. What year would you place the story? Is it modern day or some other time in the past/future?
  3. The author uses the statue to introduce the issue of race and family relations. Was this effectively played out?
  4. The boys kept finding similarities in their "sister" Kenya – when the fact was…she wasn't related at all. Even Doyle was noticing the physical similarities….were they seeing it because of suggestion?
  5. The book shows us a family that is dysfunctional ...
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Reviews

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There is a magical quality to the writing - not a hocus-pocus abracadabra, pull a rabbit out of the hat magic, but a more primal magic that makes one shiver in realization that below the mundane every-day world is a shimmering substrata of unconditional love.   (Reviewed by Lee Gooden).

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Media Reviews
The Boston Athenaeum

As the fates of her exquisitely rendered, wholly sympathetic characters unfold, Patchett has much to tell us about ourselves and how we choose to live our lives.

Library Journal - Sarah Conrad Weisman

[A]n engrossing and enjoyable novel. While there are a few unexpected turns, the reader very quickly figures out where the plot is headed, but that does not detract from the pleasure of reading.

Publishers Weekly

[T]he book is lovely to read and is satisfyingly bold in its attempt to say something patient and true about family. "Signature review" by Andrew O'Hagan.

The Times - Helen Dunmore

Chance and accident rule this novel. Ann Patchett’s characters may believe that they possess their lives and construct their own stories, but as the narrative twists and swerves these assumptions are swept away. Just as a regulated and smoothly-running city can be paralysed by a snowstorm, so the five people who step out of the Kennedy School will never live out the futures they hold in their heads.

The Guardian - Patrick Ness

This is above all a book about good people who try to do their best by each other. Patchett's great strength is to accomplish this without sentiment or stupidity. While there may never be a great, evil Ann Patchett villain, there is sadness, and if it is surrounded by compassion rather than starkness, by good humour rather than bitterness, why should that make it any less affecting?

The Telegraph (UK) - Judith Hawley

This is a humane and sympathetic novel. It shifts between characters, linking them through verbal echoes. We move easily from the dreams of one to the reveries of another without feeling that liberties are being taken with the reader's trust.

Reader Reviews
MCM

Run
I had read Bel Canto a few years ago and was excited to read Run. I found the first chapter to be very engaging, and I was drawn into the story immediately. I especially liked Kenya's character and I thought Patchett did a nice job of having her ...   Read More

Betsey Van Horn

Implausible, pandering--but with panache and beutiful writing
The writing is intelligent, the pace like a good, healthy jog. I have two minds about this book. Was it deep tasty chocolate, or plastic fruit? I could not put it down--it IS somewhat like good TV and is obviously written with cinema in mind. I also ...   Read More

Barbara

Just OK
I loved Bel Canto and was eager to read Run. Although it was well-paced and interesting enough to keep me engaged, the plot didn't seem plausible and none of the characters stayed with me once I was finished. With other books the characters linger ...   Read More

GPL

Run
My book club read, and enjoyed, Bel Canto. I thought I would experience the same pleasure with Run. Sadly, I was disappointed. This book was more "run" of the mill, than page turner. I felt that the characters were unrealistic on one level (how ...   Read More

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Did You Know?

Tip Doyle is an aspiring Ichthyologist. Ichthyology is the branch of zoology that studies fish. This includes skeletal fish, cartilaginous fish and jawless fish.

There are at least 25,000 fish species in existence. Each year, about 250 new species are discovered and described.

The largest species of fish known is the Whale Shark, which can grow to up to 50 feet in length and can weigh 15 tons or more.

There is much debate over which is the smallest known species of fish. One contender is the tiny carp-like Paedocypris progenetica, that grows to ...

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