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Friday, May 22, 2009

The Cradle by Patrick Somerville

The Cradle: A Novel
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
ISBN: 0316036129
Pages: 208 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

 Summary from Publisher:

Early one summer morning, Matthew Bishop kisses his still-sleeping wife Marissa, gets dressed and eases his truck through Milwaukee, bound for the highway. His wife, pregnant with their first child, has asked him to find the antique cradle taken years before by her mother Caroline when she abandoned Marissa, never to contact her daughter again. Soon to be a mother herself, Marissa now dreams of nothing else but bringing her baby home to the cradle she herself slept in. His wife does not know-does not want to know-where her mother lives, but Matt has an address for Caroline's sister near by and with any luck, he will be home in time for dinner.

Only as Matt tries to track down his wife's mother, he discovers that Caroline, upon leaving Marissa, has led a life increasingly plagued by impulse and irrationality, a mysterious life that grows more inexplicable with each new lead Matt gains, and door he enters. As hours turn into days and Caroline's trail takes Matt from Wisconsin to Minnesota, Illinois, and beyond in search of the cradle, Matt makes a discovery that will forever change Marissa's life, and faces a decision that will challenge everything he has ever known.

Elegant and astonishing, Patrick Somerville tells the story of one man's journey into the heart of marriage, parenthood, and what it means to be a family. Confirming the arrival of an exuberantly talented new writer, THE CRADLE is an uniquely imaginative debut novel that radiates with wisdom and wonder.

My Review:

The Cradle by Patrick Somerville is definitely a worthy read. The characters are well-drawn and the story is intriguing. I read this book in one two hour commute, so, it is a very quick read and a good distraction.

The Cradle consists of two different storylines that weave together. One story follows Matt who is searching for his wife’s long lost cradle and the other is about Renee as she deals with her son’s decision to enlist in the military.  Both stories weave together seamlessly. I really love this type of format. It creates an element of surprise and definitely makes the story more interesting and memorable. These two stories flow really well towards the end but it does take quite a while for the two stories to attain any form of cohesiveness. The beginning seems like two completely different books. I think this works well for this book because it makes the ending come as much more of a surprise. If the book had been longer than its 200 pages it might have become a problem but because of the novel’s length, it did not.

I had really strong reactions to most of the characters. That is usually how I judge the books I read and these characters definitely elicited some very strong reactions. I loved Matt and Joe. They were such sweet characters. I was sad that Joe was given so little screen time. I wanted to strangle Marissa. She seemed to me like a spoiled little girl who was finally given a chance to be as demanding and annoying as she wanted because of her pregnancy. Honestly, if you want your cradle so bad go and get it yourself. Or at least go with your poor husband.

The writing was generally really good. I did find however that the dialogue was a bit clunky at at times but generally not enough to become really noticeable. Also the language in the novel as a whole more than made up for it.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.


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