One True Thing
"One True Thing" is a breathtaking, brilliantly realized novel, and it moves Anna Quindlen to the forefront of fiction writers in America. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, Quindlen is widely admired for her extraordinary intelligence, humor, and insight, and for the depth of her perceptions about the public and private lives of ordinary people. All these distinctive and original gifts, plus the magic only a superb writer of fiction can create, are evident in this astonishing book. A young woman is in jail, accused of the mercy killing of her mother. She says she didn't do it; she thinks she knows who did. When Ellen Gulden first learns that her mother, Kate, has cancer, the disease is already far advanced. Her father insists that Ellen quit her job and come home to take care of Kate. Ellen has always been the special child in the family, the high achiever, her father's intellectual match, and the person caught in the middle between her parents. She has seen herself as very different from her mother, the talented homemaker, the family's popular center, its one true thing. Yet as Ellen begins to spend her days with Kate, she learns many surprising things, not only about herself but also about her mother, a woman she thought she knew so well. The life choices Ellen and her mother have made are reassessed in this deeply moving novel, a work of fiction that is richly imbued with profound insights into the complex lives of women and men. Anna Quindlen writes masterfully, and with great sophistication and grace, about love and death, sexuality and betrayal, the triangles within a family, identity, growth, and change. She writes about the mysteries at the heart of the person wethink we are, of who and what we know. And she explores the ambiguities that make up marriage, character, family, and fate. As Kate Gulden's pain increases, so do the dosages of morphine. And so does Ellen's belief that her mother's suffering is unendurable. "One True Thing" is a remarkable.