One of the best books I've read in the past few years was Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I also read The Magician's Assistant, which I enjoyed but didn't grab me quite like Bel Canto did. When I learned that she had written a novel called Run that was set in Boston, I immediately bought a copy. Run tells the story of the Doyle family- the father, Bernard Doyle is the former mayor of Boston, whose career dwindled after a messy accident caused by his (now estranged) eldest son, Sullivan. His wife, Bernadette Doyle died many years ago, not too long after the couple adopted two young black boys, Tip and Teddy. However, Run is not a story about race, it's a story about family. Despite Bernard's kindness and devotion to his sons, his hopes and expectations that they follow in his political footsteps are stifling. One accident tore the family apart, and another one brings them together- the Doyles meet a pair of strangers, a woman and her young daughter who, as it turns out, may know them better than they know themselves.
It was fun reading a book that takes place in such a familiar setting- the Doyles live on Union Park in the South End. And Bernard exemplifies my favorite type of politician, the Massachusetts Democrat (yes, the Kennedy family allusions are pretty blatant). I did like the book a lot, however, I felt a little disappointed, like it could have been so much better than it actually was. Something about it came across as a little too contrived, like the characters were characterizations rather than actual people. I guess that's the problem about writing an amazing book like Bel Canto- nothing else can quite live up to it.