Book Article

THE BOOK YOU HAVE TO READ

Ann Packer recommends The Gardens of Kyoto by Kate Walbert

In Kate Walbert's exquisite novel of love, loss, and memory, the story is like a beautiful origami figure -- just that delicate, but even more alluring because you are invited to do the folding yourself. At hand are a bright, lonely, observant girl; the woman she becomes; her adored older cousin, who went at 17 to fight in the Second World War and never returned; the America that existed before women had choices, let alone choice; our slavery-haunted history; and the grievous disappointments -- and moments of intense joy -- that are attendant on longing and desire. Walbert presents all of this in the loveliest of prose and then seems to tiptoe away, leaving you in a state of melancholy exaltation, moved by all you've seen and pondering the connections long after you've closed the book.

Ann Packer's The Dive From Clausen's Pier was an EW Best Book of 2002.

Originally posted Feb 14, 2003 Published in issue #695 Feb 14, 2003 Order article reprints