Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Blessings by Anna Quindlen (4/5)

The back says: This powerful new novel by the bestselling author of Black and Blue, One True Thing, Object Lessons, and A Short Guide to a Happy Life begins when a teenage couple drives up, late at night, headlights out, to Blessings, the estate owned by Lydia Blessing. They leave a box and drive away, and in this instant, the world of Blessings is changed forever. Richly written, deeply moving, beautifully crafted, Blessings tells the story of Skip Cuddy, caretaker of the estate, who finds a baby asleep in that box and decides he wants to keep her, and of matriarch Lydia Blessing, who, for her own reasons, decides to help him. The secrets of the past, how they affect the decisions and lives of people in the present; what makes a person, a life, legitimate or illegitimate, and who decides; the unique resources people find in themselves and in a community – these are at the centre of this wonderful novel of love, redemption, and personal change by the writer about whom The Washington Post Book World said, “Quindlen knows that all the things we ever will be can be found in some forgotten fragment of family.”

I say: I only picked this up because I needed a Q author for my A-Z Author Challenge, and I’m glad I did because I fell in love with the way Quindlen writes. There’s something unassuming about her prose that makes it almost achingly beautiful at times.

More than the story itself, I liked the way she carefully carved out the characters, especially Mrs Blessing. She starts out as this mean ‘get off my lawn’ old-timey sort of lady, but as we are presented more and more details of her past, we discover that there’s so much more to her than that. Although I can’t really say that her past is of an extraordinary kind, it’s the usual lost love, bad choices, disappointments, etc, there’s something in the way that Quindlen presents it that made me ache for her.

And the same goes for Skip.

The story itself was nothing extraordinary or spectacular, and the end was nice, and gentle. I liked it.

3/5 for the story itself and Quindlen’s writing bumps it up to a 4.


  1. The story line reminds one of Driving Miss Daisy - the elderly widow of the estate - the sympathetic household help - the deep secrets that both Mrs. Blessing and Skip Cuddy hold inside. The small infant brings out long hidden warmth in the main character . Very touching as a novel - interesting - but difficult to stick with to the end.

    1. I haven't read (or seen) Driving Miss Daisy, but if it's similar to this I may well pick it up. Thanks for that tip.

      I kind of like these types of story lines if they're beautifully written.