I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen
Published by Random House on April 5, 2016
Genres: Sagas, Women's Fiction
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For generations the Millers have lived in Miller’s Valley. Mimi Miller tells about her life with intimacy and honesty. As Mimi eavesdrops on her parents and quietly observes the people around her, she discovers more and more about the toxicity of family secrets, the dangers of gossip, the flaws of marriage, the inequalities of friendship and the risks of passion, loyalty, and love. Home, as Mimi begins to realize, can be “a place where it’s just as easy to feel lost as it is to feel content.”
Miller’s Valley is a masterly study of family, memory, loss, and, ultimately, discovery, of finding true identity and a new vision of home. As Mimi says, “No one ever leaves the town where they grew up, even if they go.” Miller’s Valley reminds us that the place where you grew up can disappear, and the people in it too, but all will live on in your heart forever.
I have only read one of Anna Quindlen’s books before, Black and Blue, way back in 1998 and remember loving it. I was excited to get a chance to read Miller’s Valley, as I have heard amazing thing about Quindlen’s books in the intervening years. Sadly I just could not connect with the narrator, Mimi Miller. Mimi is the youngest in her family and she walks us through the big moments in her life from the age of ten to sixty-five. She lives in a small town named Miller’s Valley that is living under the constant strain of eminent domain, as the government wants to divert a river through the valley. Seen from the eyes of an almost impartial observer, the residents of the small town, their quirks and flaws are on full display.
The plot of Miller’s Valley was interesting. Full of unique residents, the premise holds a lot of promise. Anna Quindlen’s writing was soft and slow, like a warm breeze on a summer day. She was invoked a feeling of a slow waft with each chapter. The pacing had some issues; there were sudden time jumps as Mimi aged and it always took me a few seconds to ascertain what time the story was now in. The world built was strong as the town was so small and Mimi’s descriptions laid it out well. The emotions were lacking to me. I could never connect with Mimi as she was so impassive as an observer. The characters also fell flat to me, as I could not connect with any of them Mimi held everyone at an arms length which made the reader do the same.
I did not dislike Miller’s Valley, I just could not connect with the narrator. I enjoyed the plot and the world built was fantastic, but I have a hard time with a read if I can’t connect. The slow observations just did not resonate. I may need to go back to Quindlen’s earlier writing to get that strong emotional tie I felt in Black and Blue.
Favorite lines – When I got older I realized that the majority of people in Miller’s Valley were the most discontented kind of Americans, working people whose situations hadn’t risen or fallen over generations, but who still carried a little bit of those streets-paved-with-gold illusions and so were always annoyed that the streets were paved with tar. If they were paved at all.
Biggest cliché – This town ain’t big enough for the likes of me.
Have you read Miller’s Valley, or added it to your TBR?
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2016 New Release Challenge
- Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
- The Goodreads Challenge