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The Cradle

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3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  1,404 ratings  ·  325 reviews
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Marissa is expecting her first child and fixated on securing the same cradle she was once rocked in for her own baby. But her mother, Caroline, disappeared when Marissa was a teenager, and the treasured cradle mysteriously vanished shortly thereafter. Marissa's husband, Matthew, kindly agrees to try to track down the cradle, whi
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Hardcover, 200 pages
Published March 9th 2009 by Little, Brown and Company
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Jim
The Cradle is full of surprises. On the surface, it doesn’t have a lot to recommend it. It’s a shaggy dog tale that is essentially a glorified road trip. And if you take a look at the pieces of the story it does all kinds of things that go against the grain. I took a craft class with Mary Akers this summer and she presented examples of fiction that break the rules of the established order. Somerville’s The Cradle would make a great case study:

1) Road trip: A series of scenes takes the place of a
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Noah
A slim book in terms of length and depth. Too many coincidences and deliberately quirky characters. Avoids some of the deeper emotions to which it alludes. Reads like a literary version of a weepy movie-of-the-week. A kernel of the real exists here, but it's swamped by sentimentality.
Mike Ingram
I'm not giving this book five stars because Patrick Somerville gave us (Barrelhouse) a story or because he seems like a genuinely decent human being whose success I'd be more than happy to help along in my tiny, tiny way. I was prepared to give it five stars for those reasons, but then the book turned out to be amazingly good. It's not flashy, the prose is deceptively simple, there are no tricks. Well, okay, there's one trick, but it's not even a trick, really, just an interesting temporal/struc ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

I had been looking forward to Patrick Somerville's debut novel The Cradle for some time now; after all, he's a Chicago-based author with whom I share several mutual friends, and this slim title of his has picked up lots of local accolades this year, one of what I consider the most talked-about Chicag
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Mocha Girl
With only about 200 pages in its entirety, The Cradle has a rather immediate opening with Matt's very pregnant wife, Marissa, insisting he find her long-lost antique cradle from childhood. We quickly discover, via a series of flashbacks, that both Matt and Marissa have unresolved issues from their youth, stemming from Matt's adoption and foster care experiences and Marissa's mother's unexplained abandonment. In the first of many "coincidences," Marissa's father recalls the last known address of ...more
Matthew
Premise seemed so absurd--pregnant wife asks husband to find Civil-War-era cradle she was once rocked in--that I thought, okay, this has got to be good. Turned out: I was wrong. Some momentum generated in the beginning, and yeah, the two plot lines are able to summon a bit of mystery, but the fact that this is a quest lends itself to the sort of pitfalls you'd expect, mainly that what we get is a number of flat, stereotypical characters. Doesn't help that the writing itself is dull masquerading ...more
Kevin
This is a powerful and haunting novel that snuck up on me. It seems like a simple story at first but around page 81 it really picks up steam and I felt myself almost obsessed with the story. It became a propulsive reading experience after that, one in which I felt close to the characters--maybe I even cried a little at some point. I think this book might get pretty huge once it's out in paperback and if a movie is actually made of it (it was optioned recently). A superb piece of work from Mr. So ...more
Diane Chamberlain
The writing is lovely and engaging, and I was with the author till the final quarter of the book. Then I wanted more resolution, or at least more of a resolution that worked for me. I felt as though I'd spent a lot of energy investing in and caring about the characters, but with a leap in time, they were given short shrift and I felt a bit cheated by getting to see what made them change the way they did. I'm the author of commercial fiction, and that may be the problem: I like closure.
Kathy (Bermudaonion)
**Warning: May contain spoilers.**

It’s 1997 and Matt and Marissa are a young married couple expecting their first baby in a month or so. Marissa’s mother left her family when Marissa was 15 and Matt is an orphan. When Marissa is 8 months pregnant she decides the baby must have the cradle she slept in as a child and wants Matt to get it for her. The problem is that Marissa’s mother took the cradle with her when she left. The only lead Matt has is an address for Marissa’s aunt (her mother’s sister
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Todd
Really enjoyed this book for various reasons. The Upper Midwest setting not only was familiar to me, but the author nailed the attitudes and speech patterns of the area. Most of all, I appreciated the protagonist. Matt could have been portrayed as a person whose difficult childhood made him a mess as an adult, but instead, apart from a moment or two, he had a full, competent grasp on life. I also liked seeing a young, lower-middle class family portrayed, a socio-economic group that is woefully l ...more
Renetta
This is a great story. The protagonist, Matt, goes on a journey in search of a cradle his wife had when she was young. This journey becomes so much more. Matt travels all over the Midwest (I liked this since I am from the Midwest) meeting some very selfish individuals and learns of a secret, he now has to decide if he should share this with his wife. I really felt a connection to Matt and his overwhelming feeling of gratitude toward life.

There was a second story told also of Renee and a secret t
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Labmom
Short, powerful, well-written and so touchingly sad but not maudlin, sweetly hopeful, wonderful characterization. All so impressive in a debut that I could finish in a few hours. Just .. wow. Sometimes you find these tender little jewels of books and are stunned at how good they are. Like Amy Bloom and Kent Haruf, I wonder where have you been and why aren't you winning prizes and making millions on slim beautiful books and why don't you write more. And then I remember I live in a world that idol ...more
Nicolemauerman
This very short book is about a man who is sent to retrieve a cradle that belonged to his wife's mother. Both the main characters in this novel have been abandoned by their mothers and through the course of the book the characters are made to confront their past. I felt indifferent about this book. I finished the book relatively quickly, so obviously it wasn’t horrible, but I felt that there were a lot of crazy situations and coincidences. The unresolved ending is thought provoking, but I was su ...more
Jackie
Is this a likely story? No. But it is a very beautiful, very hopeful story. It's about a man who goes in search of a simple piece of his wife's past--the antique cradle she herself was rocked in--that ends up changing the future for many, many people. It's about taking chances, getting second chances, and creating families in the most unlikely of ways. It begins as many stories, but ends as one. The smile you will have on your face as you finish the last page of this book is more than worth the ...more
Marcy Dermansky
This book was a complete surprise and such a good one. I loved it.

I am glad that Patrick Somerville got a bad review in the New York Tims for his newest novel, which led to a fine article in Salon.com about a strange experience he had with the fact checkers at the Times who wrote to the email address of one of his characters, which led me to pick up his first novel in the English book section of a German bookstore.
Laura
"How often do voices in your head talk to you?" Darren asked.

"Never."

"Not even your own voice?"

"I do think, if that's what you mean." (98)


"Okay, then," Matt said. "And also, we'll be needing one nice pair of Spider-Man underpants. Wouldn't you know it?" (154)
MK Brunskill-Cowen
What an intriguing book! When Marissa sends her husband Matt out to recover her childhood cradle, he has no idea where the request will take him or what he will find at the end. It's very much an allegory for life - Matt seeks one thing, but finds another.
Jennifer
A story of family - what it means to build a family when you have grown up without one or with a fractured one. I liked the main thread of the story much better than the secondary thread and thought they were tied together rather artificially.
Kristen Balas
Boring. This guy is not a great writer. The story was dull and predictable. The characters were uninteresting. I gave it two stars because it was short enough to give me something to do while I waited for my car to get fixed.
Toni
Picking up this book I expected to have a light piece of entertainment to accompany a long plane ride. What I got was a surprisingly good story. This is Somerville's first novel. I hope it is not his last.
Alex Mattingly
I like anti-heroes as much as anybody, but there's also something satisfying about spending time with a character you admire. In 'The Cradle,' Matthew Bishop sets out to retrieve a lost heirloom cradle for his wife. What follows is the story of a man trying to build a family in a world where evil is a real and insidious force.

There are no serial killers, there are no fanged demons from hell. What's frightening about the evil portrayed in this book is how careless it is, how ordinary. In the face
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Jennifer
From My Blog...[return][return]Family is the central theme in Patrick Somerville's debut novel The Cradle, which consists of two differing stories told ten years apart. The reader is first introduced to Matt and Marissa, who are expecting their first child and Marissa, eight months pregnant, is insistent that Matt find the Civil War cradle that mysteriously was stolen from her home when she was 15, the day after her mother walked out on her family. Somerville then propels the reader ahead ten ye ...more
Jennifer
From My Blog...

Family is the central theme in Patrick Somerville's debut novel The Cradle, which consists of two differing stories told ten years apart. The reader is first introduced to Matt and Marissa, who are expecting their first child and Marissa, eight months pregnant, is insistent that Matt find the Civil War cradle that mysteriously was stolen from her home when she was 15, the day after her mother walked out on her family. Somerville then propels the reader ahead ten years to present d
...more
Miriam
this was an interesting story about the cradle and Matt, Renee and Joe. 2 stories are taken place at a different time line. Matt being in foster homes and not knowing his mother Renee. Renee can't over her first love that died in war and giving up her child Matt. She moved on with her life and had memories of her first love while her son enrolled in the military. Renee was talking to her son Adam in not going to the military but Adam does not know about Renee's first love that died in the war. M ...more
Diane
In Patrick Somerville's debut novel: The Cradle, two stories are woven together -- both stories are about family histories.

In the first story we meet Marissa and Mark. Marrissa is very pregnant with the couple's first child. She becomes obsessed with locating an antique Civil War cradle that her mother took with her when she abandoned the family many years earlier. Matt, wanting to please his wife, as this cradle seems so important to her, sets out on a mission to find it. Along the way, he reco
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Patrick Faller
Not the least of the many successes in Patrick Somerville's first novel is the way Mr. Somerville breathes life into a plot that comes dangerously close to resembling Lifetime television fare by creating some of the more well-rounded and engaging characters to pop up in recent fiction. There's Matthew Bishop, the novel's protagonist: an expectant father possessing a work ethic and code of values he's not quite able to articulate but which nonetheless governs his actions. When his wife Marissa in ...more
William

One of the first signs of the felicitous writing in this short novel is the graceful switch between voices in the first two chapters, from Matt, a man in his twenties who is about to become a father and who is charged by his wife, Marissa, with a mysterious task; to Renee, a woman in her fifties who has a secret. From there the novel takes Matt on a classic American road trip, but with a difference -- this picaresque journey has a serious purpose, in the noble tradition of the Grail quest. Inter
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Ralph
"What a mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin." ~Henry Ward Beecher

I originally picked this book up because it was in a Barnes & Noble Discover recommendation. I enjoy reading books from this seasonal pamphlet of first-time writers for a number of reasons:

- I really want to support first-time writers and if I like the book I like to follow their writing career.
- I am always looking for books that are outside of the realm of books I usually read.
- I have read ot
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Christie
I knew going into the book that the request was a bit out there, but it wasn't until toward the end of the book that I understood Marissa (not her motivations so much, the narrations *tells* us what her motivation is, more what it was about her personality and the nature of Matt and Marissa's relationship) that I believed that Matt would go on a wild goose chase for this cradle. I think it would have helped if readers were eased into the narrative before she made her request. Instead she asks he ...more
Samantha Glasser
Matt Bishop was given up for adoption as a child. He is currently married and expecting his first child with his wife Marisa. She has had a difficult past as well; her mother left her with her father when she was young, never to speak to them again. The impending birth of her son makes Marisa suddenly anxious to own the Civil War cradle that rocked her to sleep as a baby. The only problem is is that it was stolen soon after her mother left. Confident that her husband can find it, Marisa sends Ma ...more
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I'm a fiction writer from Wisconsin, living in Chicago.
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