October 01, 2007 12:00 PM

RUN

by Ann Patchett |

REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT

NOVEL

On a snowy Boston street, Tip Doyle, Harvard ichthyologist-in-training, is pushed out of the path of an oncoming car by a stranger—Tennessee Moser, a black single mother who takes the brunt of the impact herself. This is, however, no random act of valor: Tennessee has been shadowing Tip and his brother Teddy since ex-mayor Bernard Doyle adopted the boys two decades earlier. Patchett’s silky prose is nearly enough to pull the reader through this complicated, emotionally dense two-family saga, but there are snags. The first chapter portends a battle among Doyle’s long-dead wife’s relatives that never develops; the plot relies on one too many coincidences, and a hallucinatory hospital scene confuses more than illuminates. Brilliant scenes showcase Patchett’s talent as a literary stylist, and Run goes down quick and easy. But it’s not as absorbing as the author’s lyrical Bel Canto, and not entirely convincing either.

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