September 3, 2016
Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen
20106 Random House
Finished on April 7, 2016
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
"No one ever leaves the town where they grew up, not really, even if they go," says Mimi Miller as she tells the story of her life, from the 1960s to the present, in a small American town on the verge of change. The Miller family has lived and farmed in Miller's Valley for generations, but Mimi sees change looming at the corners of her community and within the walls of her home. As she grows up and discovers sex, love, and ambition, what has seemed bound together begins to drift apart: Mimi's mother from her reclusive sister, Ruth; her damaged brother Tommy from his family and son; and the community itself, menaced by the lingering presence of government officials. As Mimi looks back on the past, she comes to understand that her family and her town itself may always have been destined to disappear.
Anna Quindlen's stunning new novel is a masterly study of family, memory, loss, and ultimately, discovery and finding home. Miller's Valley reminds us that the place where you grew up can disappear, and the people in it too, but all will live on in your heart forever.
I've read quite a few books by Anna Quindlen over the years. Looking at her list of fiction, I realize that I've read all her published novels with the exception of just one (Rise and Shine). Some have been absolutely outstanding and others have been very good, but none have been mediocre. The good ones still leave me longing for more, wishing for another amazing story, but I keep reading and keep hoping for something new that will move me in the same way that both Every Last One and One True Thing did.
Miller's Valley was an enjoyable read, but I didn't love it nearly as much as some other readers. I liked the older Mimi and felt that the epilogue (which reveals Mimi as a wife, mother and a grandmother) was the best part of the entire book.
Miller's Valley is certainly worth reading, but I didn't find any notable passages and it's not one I'll pick up again. I still have Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake (one of Quindlen's collections of essays) and don't quite know why I haven't read it yet. It's been on my shelf for a few years now, so maybe this will be the year.