Rules for Visiting: A Novel

Rules for Visiting: A Novel
Series: April 2019 Reading List
Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Year: 2019
ISBN: 9780525559221

When introverted May, a gardener at the local university, is granted some extra time off, she decides to reconnect with some old friends--in person. She makes plans to visit them, and hopes to rekindle their closeness and her own dedication to the friendships.

May is a relatable character, especially for introverts, and I wonder if I would have liked this better if I'd read it at a different time--many reviewers on Goodreads seemed to love it. The beginning was slow and meandering, and I almost gave up.

May does come into sharper focus when she finally makes her visiting plans, and I enjoyed those parts of the book--she is a nice, quietly quirky houseguest. Sadly, most of the other characters blended together. While I'm always looking for good books about friendship, this one just didn't deliver for me.

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About the Book

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A beautifully observed and deeply funny novel of May Attaway, a university gardener who sets out on an odyssey to reconnect with four old friends over the course of a year.

At forty, May Attaway is more at home with plants than people. Over the years, she’s turned inward, finding pleasure in language, her work as a gardener, and keeping her neighbors at arm’s length while keenly observing them. But when she is unexpectedly granted some leave from her job, May is inspired to reconnect with four once close friends. She knows they will never have a proper reunion, so she goes, one-by-one, to each of them. A student of the classics, May considers her journey a female Odyssey. What might the world have had if, instead of waiting, Penelope had set out on an adventure of her own?

RULES FOR VISITING is a woman’s exploration of friendship in the digital age. Deeply alert to the nobility and the ridiculousness of ordinary people, May savors the pleasures along the way–afternoon ice cream with a long-lost friend, surprise postcards from an unexpected crush, and a moving encounter with ancient beauty. Though she gets a taste of viral online fame, May chooses to bypass her friends’ perfectly cultivated online lives to instead meet them in their messy analog ones.

Ultimately, May learns that a best friend is someone who knows your story–and she inspires us all to master the art of visiting.

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