The Cradle by Patrick Somerville

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I digress – a bit.  The Cradle is an adult novel, but one of the main characters is a children’s book author so I figured the book is fair game for a blog primarily devoted to children’s books.  However, even without the connections to the children’s book world, I would have found an excuse to write about this novel.  I finished reading it in the parking lot of a music store where my son was taking his drum lesson.  When I got to the last few pages, I felt my eyes well up a bit.  Not because of a sad or unexpected ending, but in the way that people might feel overcome looking at a beautiful painting or listen to a Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.  The best word for my emotions was gratitude.  I felt grateful for Somerville’s writing and for this moving and thoughtful story.   The New York Times called The Cradle a “magical” novel, and I can’t think of a better word. 

The Cradle is a quest tale which begins with a re-quest.  Matt Bishop, the novel’s main character, is asked by his pregnant wife to locate a cradle.  This cradle was the one she was rocked in as a baby, and for reasons I won’t give away here, it is important to her.  Matt is devoted to Marisa and their life together and so he begins his quest, which naturally, leads to long-buried secrets and  unexpected places.  There are actually two parallel stories – one involving a children’s book author – which come together in the end.  Along the way, are meditations on family and belonging that I want to memorize and carry with me.

The Cradle will be one of the books I recommend when friends ask what they should read.  For me, it will be one of the rare books I plan to read again.


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