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The Resource The children's crusade : a novel, Ann Packer

The children's crusade : a novel, Ann Packer

Label
The children's crusade : a novel
Title
The children's crusade
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Ann Packer
Title variation
childrens crusade
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
"Bill Blair finds the land by accident, three wooded acres in a rustic community south of San Francisco. The year is 1954, long before anyone will call this area Silicon Valley. Struck by a vision of the family he has yet to create, Bill buys the property on a whim. In Penny Greenway he finds a suitable wife, a woman whose yearning attitude toward life seems compelling and answerable, and they marry and have four children. Yet Penny is a mercurial housewife, at a time when women chafed at the conventions imposed on them. She finds salvation in art, but the cost is high. Thirty years later, the three oldest Blair children, adults now and still living near the family home, are disrupted by the return of the youngest, whose sudden presence and all-too-familiar troubles force a reckoning with who they are, separately and together, and set off a struggle over the family's future. One by one, the siblings take turns telling the story--Robert, a doctor like their father; Rebecca, a psychiatrist; Ryan, a schoolteacher; and James, the malcontent, the problem child, the only one who hasn't settled down--their narratives interwoven with portraits of the family at crucial points in their history" --
Member of
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ Told in the most elegant prose, this extraordinarily compassionate tale, set in the Bay Area and spanning 30 years, follows a doctor, his wife, and their four children. Bill Blair is a gifted healer and near-perfect role model who worries that his wife Penny’s unhappiness will traumatize their children. With the birth of their fourth child, Penny is suddenly deeply unhappy with her domestic role and opts to turn their garden shed into an art studio, where she spends most of her time. The children, meanwhile, feel her absence deeply and try to lure her back into the fold, with mixed results. Years later, three of the children still reside near their family home: headstrong Robert is, like his father, a doctor; Rebecca, always so helpful as a child, is a psychiatrist; and dreamy, sensitive Ryan is a schoolteacher. But when rootless James, the youngest and always the problem child, suddenly turns up, the family is thrown into disarray and must find a way to recalibrate old dynamics. Packer fully captures the intimacy of this family’s life and, by extension, the way the children’s interactions impact their adult lives. A masterful portrait of indelible family bonds. -- Wilkinson, Joanne (Reviewed 02-01-2015) (Booklist, vol 111, number 11, p22)
  • Packer (The Dive from Clausen’s Pier ) begins her well-crafted family saga from the ground up with pediatrician Bill Blair’s Portola Valley, Calif., land purchased in 1954. Bill marries Penny, a young woman eager to have children—but she didn’t count on four kids, which forges her identity as a mother instead of the artist she yearns to become. Her children are intuitively aware of her distance and poignantly try to find a way to bring her closer to them. Their stories unfold through distinctive narrative styles, including both first- and third-person sections, suited to the characters: stressed internist Robert, brilliant psychiatrist Rebecca, dreamy teacher Ryan, and reckless drifter James. The multiple perspectives help render the complicated family fully. Of the siblings, James is the only one to relocate, and he periodically returns over the years. The impetus for his current visit stems from an idea that shocks his siblings, prompting them to examine their childhood to find the answer. “Or rather, I remembered my memory of the moment, because after so long that’s what memory is: the replaying of the filmstrip that’s slightly warped from having gone through the projector so many times,” Rebecca thinks. Packer is an accomplished storyteller whose characters are as real as those you might find around your dinner table. Readers will be taken with this vibrant novel. (Apr.) --Staff (Reviewed February 2, 2015) (Publishers Weekly, vol 262, issue 05, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ The critically acclaimed Packer (The Dive from Clausen's Pier ) has written an engrossing story of the Blair family, their secrets, wounds, and struggles for second chances. In 1954, Bill Blair, starting his career as a physician, buys wooded property in the hills near Palo Alto, CA, to build a house and start a family. Sadly, in fewer than ten years, his wife, Penny, always moody and distracted, has distanced herself from Bill and their four children: brilliant Robert, headstrong Rebecca, dreamy Ryan, and wild child James. She moves into an outbuilding/pottery studio but soon leaves for an artists' community in Taos. Eventually, three of the children marry and follow respectable careers, all living near the family home occupied by their father until his death. Bill leaves the house to the children, stipulating that if they sell, they need approval of one other sibling and Penny. Then James, still the rude impetuous problem child and sporadically in touch over the years, shows up needing money. The resulting conflict stirs up heart-wrenching memories and resentments. VERDICT Packer offers a flawless, compassionate portrayal of each family member at both their best and worst and shows what a strong hold the past has on the present. Literary fiction at its finest; highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 10/13/14.]— Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Palisade, CO --Donna Bettencourt (Reviewed January 1, 2015) (Library Journal, vol 140, issue 1, p96)
  • /* Starred Review */ A young doctor buys a piece of land in a place that will later be known as Silicon Valley, building a house that will shape his family for decades. Packer (Swim Back to Me, 2011, etc.) is an expert at complicated relationships; she likes to show more than two sides to every story. Who's responsible for the fracturing of the Blair family? The obvious answer is Penny, a woman oppressed by domesticity, who retreats from her husband and four children to spend all her time in the shed—she calls it her studio—where she works on collages and mugs made of too-thick pottery, eventually even sleeping there. Or could her husband, Bill, a pediatrician with endless patience and empathy for kids, have pushed his wife away? Perhaps it was James, the youngest (and unplanned) child, a holy terror from the day he was born, who tipped his family over the edge. In beautifully precise prose, Packer tells the Blairs' story, alternating chapters between the past, when the children were young, and the present, four years after their father's death, when they each get a chance to tell their own stories in the first person. While James has bounced around the world, his siblings—Robert, a doctor; Rebecca, a psychiatrist; and Ryan, a teacher—all live near their childhood home, which James wants to sell. Emotions have never had so many shadings as in Packer's fiction; she can tease apart every degree of ambivalence in her characters, multiplying that exponentially when everyone has different desires and they all worry about finding fulfillment while also caring for each other—except, perhaps, Penny. But though we rarely see Penny's perspective on why she withdrew from her family, we can fill in the blanks; it's the 1960s and '70s, a time when women were searching for a larger role in the world. Packer seems to set Penny up as the villain, but even that view becomes complicated by the end. When you read Packer, you'll know you're in the hands of a writer who knows what she's doing. A marvelously absorbing novel.(Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2015)
Assigning source
provided by publisher
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10405190
Cataloging source
BTCTA
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1959-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Packer, Ann
Dewey number
813/.54
Index
no index present
LC call number
PS3566.A315
LC item number
C45 2015
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Adult children of dysfunctional families
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Family secrets
  • Women artists
  • Families
  • San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.)
Target audience
adult
Label
The children's crusade : a novel, Ann Packer
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First Scribner hardcover edition.
Extent
432 pages
Isbn
9781476710457
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 883147423
  • (OCoLC)883147423
Label
The children's crusade : a novel, Ann Packer
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First Scribner hardcover edition.
Extent
432 pages
Isbn
9781476710457
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 883147423
  • (OCoLC)883147423

Library Locations

    • James City County LibraryBorrow it
      7770 Croaker Road, Williamsburg, VA, 23188, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
    • Williamsburg LibraryBorrow it
      515 Scotland Street, Williamsburg, VA, 23185, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
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