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.