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Picks and Pans Review: Blessings

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By Anna Quindlen

An unwanted newborn is abandoned on the steps of Blessings, a lavish family estate occupied by the elderly Lydia Blessing, stoic and set in her ways. The kid is found by the property’s young caretaker, just out of jail on a robbery charge, who begins to raise the tyke as his own in the estate’s garage apartment. New mothers, take note: He’s got the kid sucking from a bottle and on a regular sleep schedule in no time.

Okay, the plot of Quindlen’s fourth novel is not its strong point—and neither are the underdeveloped supporting characters. But as the baby’s appearance leads Lydia to brood about her past and a series of domestic dramas going back decades, Quindlen successfully mines the hidden depths of people and place and class. In a clan this staid, what passes for a scandal is slight, especially since most of it happened in an age of strictly enforced mores. Still, the quiet buildup leads to an interesting if sedate close-up of one household. (Random House, $24.95)

Bottom Line: Mixed Blessings