Anna Quindlen is like an urban Marilyn Robinson. She draws a small life using simple language (just more words per minute) that makes you want to linger rather than rush through to the end. I know when I sit down with one of her novels that I will be in for a treat, as she writes with an old-school impulse that reminds us that good writing matters. And I don’t just mean good storytelling (although that is important, too–more about that in my review of Stephen King) or “clever” plotting or genre bending (yes, I mean you, David Mitchell!), but the simple pleasure of reading a sentence well-written.
This newest novel takes on romance, mature romance–a tough road to hoe if you hope to do it delicately and believably–and Quindlen does not disappoint. She writes about a woman in her early sixties (I think?)–not a grandma, not a woman settled into retirement, nor one who is desperately clinging to a fading youth, rather one who is alive, aware, attentive and comfortable in her skin, in her place in the world.
Rebecca Winter (okay, so the name is a little Harlequin romance) is a well-known photographer whose career is in its twilight, and who has moved to the country in order to live a more “affordable” life. She deals with many of the situations typical of women in midlife–ailing parents, a rakish ex-husband, a not quite independent adult son, bills, more bills, and yes the quest for love and companionship.
I like how Quindlen’s books grow with her. It’s a refreshing break from the sea of retrospective and nostalgic novels out there or ones where the writer tries to “see the world through different eyes.” Not Quindlen. She writes from the here and now, and if her view is anything to go by, the next ten years should be pretty sweet!