Saturday, November 08, 2008

62. One True Thing

by Anna Quindlen

I read this book for an online book discussion. In the prologue, 24-year-old Ellen Gulden is in jail, accused of giving her dying mother an overdose of morphine. Part One of the book are the events leading up to that situation. Ellen, who is a journalist in New York City, is back for a visit at the end of the summer in the small college town where she grew up and where her father, George, is a professor. Her 46-year-old mother, Kate, is diagnosed with cancer, and George, who Ellen practically worships, insists that Ellen move back home to care for her.

This is the strongest part of the book, showing Ellen's growing respect, admiration, and love for the homemaker mother she used to dismiss and take for granted, and her correspondingly increasing disgust for her father, who continues to envelop himself with work and sexual encounters while his wife is dying. Ellen and her mother start the "Gulden Girls Book and Cook Club," reading and discussing classics, while Ellen learns cook and participates in her mother's community Christmas activities. Kate's pain and disability increase, and Part One ends with her death in February of the following year.

Part Two is the aftermath, Ellen's arrest and the appearance before the grand jury. I won't spoil the end of the book, as it really doesn't matter. The story's strength is in the mother-daughter relationship. Quindlen took time off from college to nurse her own mother through her death from ovarian cancer at age 40, when Quindlen was 19.

No comments:

Post a Comment