Tom Lake by Ann Patchett  Review & Summary

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Book Title: Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

Number of Pages:  316

Audiobook Narrated by: Meryl Streep

Listening Length: 12 hours and 10 minutes

Goodreads rating: 4.31 (28,606 ratings)

 Published in: 2023

Tom Lake Book Summary

Tom Lake opens with Lara’s three daughters returning to the family’s orchard in Northern Michigan.

As they pick cherries under the summer sun, they implore their mother to share the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor, and Lara’s former lover from their days at the Tom Lake theater company.

What follows is a narrative that delves deep into Lara’s past, shedding light on the intricate layers of her life.


Praise for Tom Lake

Patchett’s intricate and subtle thematic web…enfolds the nature of storytelling, the evolving dynamics of a family, and the complex interaction between destiny and choice….These braided strands culminate in a denouement at once deeply sad and tenderly life-affirming. Poignant and reflective, cementing Patchett’s stature as one of our finest novelists.”- Kirkus Reviews

A swoony, luminous reminder about the endurance of love and happiness in a broken world.” — Oprah Daily

Fans of The Dutch House and Commonwealth will be more than satisfied with Ann Patchett’s latest novelistic exploration of love and family dynamics.” — Harper’s Bazaar

“A compelling narrative about the secret lives of parents—and how to find happiness in the midst of a long life.” — Time

Quotes from Tom Lake

“There is no explaining this simple truth about life: you will forget much of it. The painful things you were certain you’d never be able to let go? Now you’re not entirely sure when they happened, while the thrilling parts, the heart-stopping joys, splintered and scattered and became something else

Ann Patchett, Tom Lake

We clump together in our sorrow. In joy we may wander off in our separate directions, but in sorrow we prefer to hold hands.”
― Ann Patchett, Tom Lake

“It’s about falling so wildly in love with him—the way one will at twenty-four—that it felt like jumping off a roof at midnight. There was no way to foresee the mess it would come to in the end, nor did it occur to me to care.”
― Ann Patchett, Tom Lake

What was it like?” she asks me again. It was like being a leaf in a river. I fell in and was carried along.”
― Ann Patchett, Tom Lake

Tom Lake The Creative Muggle Review 

Tom Lake was a bit slow-paced and I was a bit hesitant whether to continue reading. And I am happy that I did.  

As the narrative unfolds, you start to see the magic of Tom Lake.

For some reason you feel attached to the theatre group, the lake and everything in between. 


Lara is my favorite character. I absolutely loved how young Lara began her journey as an actor.

  Her relationship with her grand mother.

Her friends at Tom Lake.

As for Peter Duke, he still a mystery to me. I think nobody really knows him. Also Lara’s relationship with her daughters were really delightful as well. And perhaps another character that surprised me was Sebastian. 

Writing Style

Ann Patchett’s writing style in Tom Lake is something else.

It’s wonderfully evocative and almost poetic at times.

Having read The Dutch House, I was somehow familiar with the writing.There is always depth to her prose and you might want to reread many times.

I was listening to the audiobook, I did play some parts a few times to really grasp the words.

What I  Loved

What I loved most about Tom Lake was how it delves into love in all its forms.

Patchett’s insights into marriage, parenthood, and the multifaceted nature of love was the best part about the book.

And of course, then the narrator. Meryl Streep was phenomenal as Lara.  And  the ending was absolutely fantastic!

Areas for Improvement

Although, I really enjoyed the fact that the novel is told in the first person perceptive, I would have wanted to have more than one narrator. Not particularly sure who should have been the narrator(s), but maybe Peter Duke to start? 

Overall Rating/Recommendation

Tom Lake left a lasting impression on me.

I got so immersed in the story that I didn’t want it to end.

I opted for the audiobook version solely because Meryl Streep was the narrator, and I was right; it was truly exceptional. I highly recommend experiencing the audiobook if you can.

Also if you’re in the mood family drama with unexpected twists and mysteries Tom Lake is not for you.

This is a character-driven story that will make a perfect summer read. It invites you to delve into the subtle and insightful world of family dynamics and the complexities of love.

The Creative Muggle Rating : ⭐⭐⭐


What to read after Tom Lake

If you’ve enjoyed reading Tom Lake by Ann Patchett and are looking for something similar or a new book to explore, here are a few recommendations that share themes of family, relationships, and storytelling

  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: This historical novel tells the story of two sisters in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. It’s a gripping tale of love, sacrifice, and resilience, with strong family bonds at its core.
  • The Dutch House by Ann Patchett-If you haven’t already read it, consider exploring another work by Ann Patchett. A family saga that spans five decades and delves into the intricate dynamics of a brother and sister as they navigate their past and present.
  • City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert: This is a coming-of-age story set in the vibrant world of the New York City theater.

About the Author Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett is a famous American writer. She writes novels and essays about families, love, and life. Besides writing, she owns a bookstore in Nashville, Tennessee, and helps support small bookshops. Visit the website

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Stephy George
Stephy George

Hi I am Stephy ! I became a bookworm in my late twenties. So I created this little corner of books online to share my love of reading with YOU! I want to help you find the best books to read so you won’t ever have to worry about your next read!

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