In Run, Ann Patchett has created a tortuous web of relationships. The Doyle family is part of the Boston Establishment, apparently highly political and deeply Catholic. Bernadette, who is unable to have any more children, adopts a black baby, Teddy; two weeks later the adoption agency gives her his toddler brother Tip as well. When she dies, her grieving husband is left to bring up their three sons alone. Bernadette does not appear after the first chapter, yet her absence informs the entire novel.
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'Only in Britain, perhaps, could spy chiefs – conventionally viewed as masters of subterfuge – be so highly regarded as ethical guides.'
In this month's Bookends, @AdamCSDouglas looks at the curious life of Henry Labouchere: a friend of Bram Stoker, 'loose cannon', and architect of the law that outlawed homosexual activity in Britain.
'We have all twenty-nine of her Barsetshire novels, and whenever a certain longing reaches critical mass we read all twenty-nine again, straight through.'
Patricia T O'Conner on her love for Angela Thirkell. (£)