MILLER’S VALLEY. By Anna Quindlen. Random House. 257 pages. $28.
“No one ever leaves the town where they grew up even if they go,” says Mimi in Anna Quindlen’s latest novel, “Miller’s Valley.” And this is the core of the story. Miller’s Valley is about to be drowned and turned into a reservoir by order of “the government people.”
Mimi, 11 at the start of the book, cannot imagine living anywhere else. Her family has lived in the town for generations. Growing up with her parents and two brothers, Eddie and Tommy, and with her reclusive Aunt Ruth who occupies a small house on the family property, Mimi believes this is her whole life. Her practical mother doesn’t agree and pushes her smart daughter to look for broader horizons.
“My mother always understood the situation, any situation,” Mimi admits. She has an introspective tendency, a habit of thinking things to death, of examining the family’s dreams, disillusions and secrets, one of which is a shocker.
Quindlen, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is a master of portraying human emotions, creating characters so true to life that readers feel they have met them.
Reviewer Frances Monaco is a writer in Charleston.