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Wish You Well [Mass Market Paperback]

David Baldacci
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 1 2001
David Baldacci has always delivered great stories, authentic characters, and thought-provoking ideas since he burst on the literary scene with Absolute Power. Now this versatile writer movingly evokes the charms of rural America as he makes us believe in the great and little miracles that can change lives -- or save them.

Precocious twelve-year-old Louisa Mae Cardinal lives in the hectic New York City of 1940 with her family. Then tragedy strikes -- and Lou and her younger brother, Oz, must go with their invalid mother to live on their great-grandmother's farm in the Virginia mountains. Suddenly Lou finds herself coming of age in a new landscape, making her first true friend, and experiencing adventures tragic, comic, and audacious. But the forces of greed and justice are about to clash over her new home...and as their struggle is played out in a crowded Virginia courtroom, it will determine the future of two children, an entire town, and the mountains they love.

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From Amazon

David Baldacci has made a name for himself crafting big, burly legal thrillers with larger-than-life plots. However, Wish You Well, set in his native Virginia, is a tale of hope and wonder and "something of a miracle" just itching to happen. This shift from contentious urbanites to homespun hill families may come as a surprise to some of Baldacci's fans--but they can rest assured: the author's sense of pacing and exuberant prose have made the leap as well.

The year is 1940. After a car accident kills 12-year-old Lou's and 7-year-old Oz's father and leaves their mother Amanda in a catatonic trance, the children find themselves sent from New York City to their great-grandmother Louisa's farm in Virginia. Louisa's hardscrabble existence comes as a profound shock to precocious Lou and her shy brother. Still struggling to absorb their abandonment, they enter gamely into a life that tests them at every turn--and offers unimaginable rewards. For Lou, who dreams of following in her father's literary footsteps, the misty, craggy Appalachians and the equally rugged individuals who make the mountains their home quickly become invested with an almost mythic significance:

They took metal cups from nails on the wall and dipped them in the water, and then sat outside and drank. Louisa picked up the green leaves of a mountain spurge growing next to the springhouse, which revealed beautiful purple blossoms completely hidden underneath. "One of God's little secrets," she explained. Lou sat there, cup cradled between her dimpled knees, watching and listening to her great-grandmother in the pleasant shade...
Baldacci switches deftly between lovingly detailed character description (an area in which his debt to Laura Ingalls Wilder and Harper Lee seems evident) and patient development of the novel's central plot. If that plot is a trifle transparent--no one will be surprised by Amanda's miraculous recovery or by the children's eventual battle with the nefarious forces of industry in an attempt to save their great-grandmother's farm--neither reader nor character is the worse for it. After all, nostalgia is about remembering things one already knows. --Kelly Flynn --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Baldacci is writing what? That waspish question buzzed around publishing circles when Warner announced that the bestselling author of The Simple Truth, Absolute Power and other turbo-thrillers—an author generally esteemed more for his plots than for his characters or prose—was trying his hand at mainstream fiction, with a mid-century period novel set in the rural South, no less. Shades of John Grisham and A Painted House. But guess what? Clearly inspired by his subject—his maternal ancestors, he reveals in a foreword, hail from the mountain area he writes about here with such strength—Baldacci triumphs with his best novel yet, an utterly captivating drama centered on the difficult adjustment to rural life faced by two children when their New York City existence shatters in an auto accident. That tragedy, which opens the book with a flourish, sees acclaimed but impecunious riter Jack Cardinal dead, his wife in a coma and their daughter, Lou, 12, and son, Oz, seven, forced to move to the southwestern Virginia farm of their aged great-grandmother, Louisa. Several questions propel the subsequent story with vigor. Will the siblings learn to accept, even to love, their new life? Will their mother regain consciousness? And—in a development that takes the narrative into familiar Baldacci territory for a gripping legal showdown—will Louisa lose her land to industrial interests? Baldacci exults in high melodrama here, and it doesn't always work: the death of one major character will wring tears from the stoniest eyes, but the reappearance of another, though equally hanky-friendly, is outright manipulative. Even so, what the novel offers above all is bone-deep emotional truth, as its myriad characters—each, except for one cartoonish villain, as real as readers' own kin—grapple not just with issues of life and death but with the sufferings and joys of daily existence in a setting detailed with finely attuned attention and a warm sense of wonder. This novel has a huge heart—and millions of readers are going to love it. Agent, Aaron Priest. 600,000 first printing; 3-city author tour; simultaneous Time Warner Audiobook; foreign rights sold in the U.K., Bulgaria, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Turkey; world Spanish rights sold. (One-day laydown, Oct. 24)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish You Well March 23 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'm a huge Baldacci fan and I wasn't sure what to expect this time out since it's such a departure from his other works. But I have to say...I LOVE THIS BOOK! My parents grew up in this era (1940's) in rural KY, with the hills and the "hollers" and the coal mines so these characters were very real to me. You'll fall in love with Lou, Oz, Louisa and Diamond. And you will care how it all works out. One reviewer said the end was "transparent", but who cares? It ended exactly the way it should. READ THIS BOOK!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book! March 16 2004
Format:Hardcover
Maybe I should be sorry for having liked this book so much. But, I prefer this selection to Mr. Baldacci's other fare. Great story with each character a person you'd like to know. If you love Baldacci's thrillers and have no heart, then perhaps this isn't the book for you. But if you like to see the good in people and relish in an emotional book, then this one is for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rewarding read March 25 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
My sweetest memories of my childhood in southeast rural Virginia, are the echoes of my two grandmothers as they responded to my, and my siblings' requests to "tell us a story." In a soothing, gentle drawling speech that has all but disappeared in our age of uniform media-inspired pronunciation, they would tell short little tales and anecdotes about their childhoods, or about our parents when they were children. Entertained by the hour, we were then unaware that we were tapping into a link with our pasts, even less aware that we were learning the cycle of life: we, the children, would one day be the parents, and then the grandparents. Auditors, we were learning the stories to pass on, while creating new ones to add to the repertoire.
To read David Baldacci's "Wish You Well" is to hear my grandmothers again. True, "Wish You Well" takes place on the mountainous side of the Old Dominion, not the flat side where I grew up, but the challenges were the same: people who depended on the land for survival were at the mercy of nature and, sometimes, at the mercy of interloping industry that offered long-term promises it could not fill. They came, they took, they left.
Ultimately, however, this is a novel about love, relations, relationships and sacrifice. Through a set of disastrous circumstances, Lou and Oz and their comatose mother find themselves transported from 1940s Brooklyn to a mountain top in far southwestern Virginia where their great-grandmother, Louisa Mae Cardinal takes them into her simple home. Here, they meet Eugene, a young black man who lives in Louisa's house, Diamond, an orphan who lives in the woods and Cotton, a small-town lawyer who does not realize the extent of his ability to persuade.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Cheap melo-drama at its worst Feb. 22 2003
By Nadia
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I was born in the backwoods of West Virginia, and now live in Northern New Hampshire. What can I say, I am a hillbilly. I was excited upon recieving this book from a friend. A coming of age story from the mountains would be something that should hit close to home, but this book did nothing of the sort. Opening with a cliche argument should have been a sure fire tip to what lay ahead, but I chose to ignore it. As I read on I discovered the characters, they were typical, cliche, and dare I say...Boring. There was the smart, headsrtong, beautiful girl, her timid younger brother, the talented, not to mention dead father, the tortured mother, the strong, kindly, understanding great granmother, the opressed black man, the stubborn southern boy who loved the girl, the do good lawyer, and the evil industry. Surprise surprise, the book was as predictable and cliche as the characters. The plot at times became stagnant, and when it did move there was so little emotion in it, that looking back, I found myself utterly disgusted. The authors pathetic attempts at emotion came off as sappy and melo-dramatic, not to mention cliche. Nothing in the book was believable. People died yet left no effect on me as a reader. Great triumphs were acheived, but still i could not find a single spark of emotion. The charcters were so typecast, and the coming of age plot so poorly used that i could find no compassion for the characters, nor could I hate them. I felt blank in reading the book. The reason I gave the book 2 stars were the descriptions. If read alone, they brought me back to my home town, but when paired with the book were tedious and superflous. I skimmed through them only to find and emotionless formula plot. Nice try David, but I never enjoyed cheap medicore melo-drama. Better luck next time.
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1.0 out of 5 stars the 1 star was a gift seeing as i couldn't give 0 Feb. 22 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have read some of Baldacci's other novels and found them quite enjoyable. Although he is a bit of a formula writer (I usually don't enjoy such works. Think Danielle Steel or Tom Clancy) I did find his work entertaining. In this novel, Wish You Well, he strays from the court room drama formula to the sappy coming of age formula. Sadly he is quite inept at spinning emotional webs and loses himself in long drown out descriptions, that instread of creating a sense of beauty, were skimmed over in search of an actual plot. Once the plot was found it became tepid and luke warm. Times of happiness stirred not a single thought, passages of humor were lost until in retrospect one could say "well that was a good attemt, I guess..., sadness became boring, and triumph became, well...sappy. all in all the predictable story may have come off as a little more emotional, but Baldacci was unable to carry the emotional plot. Not once did i laugh, nor did i cry, and never did this book stir me to think. I just read it, and at the end realized i had gathered nothing from the book except the affirmed knowledge that once a formula writer finds his niche, he should do the literary world a favor and not stray from his abilities.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book..........
I recommend everyone read this book........this purchase was for both of my adult daughters because it teaches the importance of learning your family's story & how important it is... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Lynn Dekker
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish you well by David Baldacci
The language of this book is how I would see a 12 year old girl thinking. David has a talent for making every experience fresh and vivid. I am still reading the book.
Published 9 months ago by Myrna J. Budgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read!!
Heart and soul truly pours from every page of the book. By the time I was done I wanted to meet all the characters and wished I could go up on that mountain. Read more
Published on July 14 2004 by angel watts
1.0 out of 5 stars How Predictable
I have never read Baldacci before, and I don't plan to read him again. I was forced to read this sappy, pat story because it was my book clubs book of the month. Read more
Published on May 16 2004 by L. Pecone
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT READ!
David Baldacci is truly a great story teller. I lent this book to a friend and she stole it from me after she read it. It is not like his typical thriller books. Read more
Published on March 10 2004 by Clifford Lynn
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining...but lightly so.
This book was my first by Baldacci. I enjoyed it, however, it was very light and airy. Definitely predictable and at times seemed as though it was written for a 4th grader. Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2004 by Michelle L. Montgomery
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable!
Not your average Baldacci--talk about changing horses! But it works beautifully. Set in Virginia, this novel brings to mind other books (think McCrae's Bark of the Dogwood or... Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and illustrative story
I love David Baldacci and he has become one of my favourite authors to keep me in thrilling suspense. Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2004 by Emily
5.0 out of 5 stars What a GREAT book!
I throughly enjoyed this book when I first read it, then I listened to it on tape with my sons and loved it all over again. Read more
Published on Jan. 11 2004 by J. Andrews
5.0 out of 5 stars This book should be read by Everyone!
Oh my goodness. All I can't say right off is that this book makes you think. It is very real. The descriptions of the scenery in the mountains.. Read more
Published on Nov. 23 2003 by Sharon Cormier
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