Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
audiobook narrated by Meryl Streep
11 hours and 22 minutes
My one-sentence review:
This may just be the perfect novel... I loved every sentence!
A bit more:
Tom Lake, my most anticipated release of 2023, was every bit as good as I'd hoped. It's billed as Patchett's pandemic novel, though the pandemic isn't central to the story. Instead it serves as a mechanism to bring adult children home to their family's Michigan cherry orchard for an extended period of time. Telling stories becomes their preferred form of entertainment... in particular, one about a long ago summer theater run when their mother, a budding actress, and a soon-to-be-hugely-famous movie star are involved in a brief, but significant relationship.
Everything else - characters, writing, setting, atmosphere - really is perfection. This book made me feel all of it, and I did not want it to end.
Tom Lake was a read/listen combination for me. The audio version is truly something special... Meryl Streep's narration is exquisite. In my twenty-plus years of listening to audiobooks, this is one of the very best.
One final note:
I strongly recommend reading the classic play Our Town by Thornton Wilder prior to Tom Lake, especially if you've not read it before. It figures prominently into the story, so being familiar with the characters and plot will add to your overall understanding and appreciation. The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov has also been suggested as a prerequisite but, for me, it didn't add to my reading experience.
Tom Lake will surely be one of my favorite books of 2023.