Author: Anna Quindlen
Publisher: Random House (2016)
Hardcover Edition: 25 pages
This is Anna Quindlen’s best book so far. The reader keeps turning the pages, floating through this emotional story, utterly transported to Miller’s Valley, a place where great change is constantly threatening. The central character Mimi Miller guides the reader with a sure and loving hand.
Mimi’s family has lived on a farm in Miller’s Valley for 200 years. It’s a wet place and the sump pumps in the basement create an urgent rhythm for the events that often threaten to overwhelm her family. Each member of the family is so alive, so believable, a reader can’t decide who is the most beloved, the most likely to keep the family afloat.
Even as Mimi holds out hope through thick waters, and thin times, the threat of just what the government plans for Miller’s Valley rises like the water: flood waters, water table, creek waters. But, in spite of what is about to disappear, heart and home, as created by Quindlen, are so sturdy, so full of grace, so quick with life and truth, readers know family will survive. A ramshackle house, or the deep woods of the valley, or the cattle and their barn may be forever changed; but the true structure of family and place will live on.
Yes, lives change, family structures give up secrets as they realign. There are devastating loses. Mimi keeps breathing and loving. Both for Mimi and for the reader, Miller’s Valley and its people are unforgettable.
For this reader, Miller’s Valley is the best fiction so far this year! I’ve no doubt said this before about other books. But for pure reading joy, this novel attains 2016’s top fiction prize. What will the rest of the year bring? More good reads is always the hope. Paulette’s Best List may change, some titles will even vanish, but I predict Miller’s Valley will be remembered as one of the most satisfying and lovely reads of the year.