My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First, let me get my bias out of the way. I am predisposed to adore any author who writes a book titled How Reading Changed My Life. Even better, I think Quindlen also shares one of my grammar pet peeves. When a news anchor says "She will probably have less supporters inside and out," Quindlen's characters shout at the screen. "'Fewer!' yelled Irving and I simultaneously." I sincerely wish that fewer people would ignore this grammar rule, because then there would be less agita in my life. [And while we're talking about it, go meet my heroine Grammar Girl.]
Quindlen also really nails her descriptions of New York; you can tell she lives here when she makes the argument that black town cars are "the official icon of New York." "New Yorkers with pretensions but middle-class means take one for airport trips or special occasions," while for young professionals, "the company picks up the tab when they take one home late at night, when a prospectus or a brief has slopped over into the early morning hours." Her language is simple but vivid, like sketches done in black ink that evoke complex objects with just a few lines, and a hint of a flourish at the edges.
It was the summer Meghan was an intern at the network affiliate there, the summer that would become the fat paragraph in every profile, and already she had started to shine like a copper ornament in the garden of everyday.Quindlen's straightforward style and commonplace verbiage works perfectly for her first person narrator, and even her little lapses into poetry never overreach. The waitstaff may "drop tiny tasting dishes all over Kate's table like falling leaves," but the rest of the paragraph is perfectly conversational, leaving that jewel of a simile to shine like a stone in a minimalist setting.
|Yes, like this.|
I went way back for that one; sorry about the poor video quality. In any case, pick this up if you want an accessible but lovely novel that delicately reflects on the mystery of sisterly love, and the peculiarly intertwined pressures of fame and tragedy.