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Friday, June 7, 2019

Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane

I finished this novel early this week, but wanted to take a little time to think about it--and then the week hit, and holy heck it was a busy one! Now it's Friday evening, and before I make a cocktail and have date night with my boyfriend, I'm going to tell you about this unexpectedly sweet novel about friendship and trees. 

May Attaway is a forty year old single woman who still lives in the home she grew up in; her father lives downstairs, and she has the top half of the house. She's part of the grounds crew at the local university, and she's  an expert at cultivating trees and plants. She's a bit of an introvert in that she goes to work, spends a minimal amount of time in conversation every day, then goes home. Her friends? Well, she doesn't really have any close friends. 

A surprise gift from the university (a month of paid time off) has May ruminating on how to spend that time. She begins noticing people all around her who have friendships: the two elderly ladies in the coffee shop, the folks in the neighborhood who not only know each other by sight, but are actual friends. She thinks a lot about friendship: how it is cultivated, nurtured, and sustains the people in it. She decides she will visit the four women she once considered friends, to reconnect and see just what friendship is all about. 

May is a bit of an old-fashioned woman, in that she believes friendship is a face to face relationship, and the digital age has left people too many ways to say they are friends with so many folks. But, the important parts of friendship are neglected by the simple fact that people never visit each other and spend time  talking in person, enjoying each other's company. As May makes her trips to her friends, she finds joy and reaffirmation in simple things: a walk together, conversation at night over a glass of wine; a trip for ice cream. She sees each of her friends and their lives--all different from each other, and each friendship is different, too. Not better or worse, just different. 

There's more to the story, but it is worth savoring and reading for yourself. I found myself settling in and loving May's journey. The references to trees, flowers, and plants were wonderful, too. It's a quiet book, but worth reading. You'll be surprised at how much you enjoy it, and it will make you pause to reflect on the importance of friendship for each of us, and what we do to nurture it, or to neglect it. 

Rating:  4/6 for a novel to savor slowly. There's not a ton of action, but that never bothered me at all. A surprising little gem!

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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