Some writers are stymied when their debut novels are huge bestsellers. Think Kathleen Stockett who wrote the The Help, but has not published anything since. This is not the case for author Anne Packer who continues writing after her initial fame. A student at the famous Iowa Writers Workshop, she wrote short stories and New Yorker articles and spent ten years writing her first novel. That novel was The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, which became an immediate best seller, was named one of the best books of 2002 and then went on to become a favorite book group title.
The Dive From Clausen’s Pier challenges readers to think about the question, what is the right thing to do? Carrie, who has always lived in her small Wisconsin town, is bored with her life and feels suffocated by her engagement to her longtime beau Mike. When Mike becomes paralyzed in a diving accident Carrie abandons him and leaves for New York, where she finds life much more exciting. This is a very emotional book where lives are upturned by a traumatic incident. Compelled by questions of responsibility and self-interest, readers will take sides as they race through the book.
Ann Packer’s latest novel, on the New Book shelves at the Monrovia Library, The Children’s Crusade also visits the notion of what makes a satisfying relationship and then what happens to the children who are products of an unhappy marriage. This is the story of doctor who buys a plot of land near San Francisco, plans a life and picks a wife. Some years later the wife, now the mother of four children and an aspiring artist, knows this is not the life she wants to lead. Unsettled by family, the children are now grown up, but grasping for something more.