I can’t think of why I haven’t read any Ann Patchett before this. A well-written, intense tale told from various perspectives in various points in time, but always clear and spare words leading the story forward. This is the story of two families that become intertwined when one father runs away with the other’s mother, stepsisters and brothers abounding, trips from California to Virginia and getting away with shenanigans like feeding the youngest boy, Albie, with the oldest boy, Cal,’s Benedryl to make Albie sleepy but that ends in Cal’s death by beesting. Beverly and Fix are the original parents of Caroline and Franny, then Beverly runs away with Bert, the father with Teresa of Cal, Holly, Jeanette, and Albie. We see Franny dropping out of law school and cocktail waitressing at the Palmer Hotel in Chicago, Holly dropping out of life and meditating in Switzerland, Jeanette with a baby and husband in Brooklyn, Albie floating around from bike messenger job to bike messenger job and then into handyman work. Franny has a relationship with a previously successful author who steals the story of Cal’s death and turns her family into a book. It’s an IV drip of family drama, life stages, births, deaths.