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Tom Lake

By Ann Patchett




Amid the Michigan cherry orchard harvest during the pandemic, Lara begrudgingly shares a story with her inquisitive three daughters. The girls, Emily, Maisie, and Nell, all know that their mother had been an up-and-coming actress in her twenties. They pushed her to tell the story of how she had come to date the handsome and world-famous actor Peter Duke. Lara and Duke met in 1988 at Tom Lake, a summer stock company in Michigan, where they performed Our Town. Their relationship was intense, ultimately causing Lara to re-evaluate her talent and her drive to continue her acting career.

Forty years later, Duke is now dead, and Lara reminisces and shares with her daughters her recollections of their summer relationship amid repeated interruptions from her curious daughters.


TOM LAKE is a lovely, tender novel about family and the events and relationships that forge our future. It is a beautiful story within a story, with Lara as the narrator. Lara tells the girls the story of her relationship with Duke.

But what Lara shares is only part of the story.

We are stunned when Lara shares the secret parts of the story with us that she didn’t share with her daughters. It will make you rethink all the family stories you have ever heard. What is the rest of the story that is never said out loud? What is the untold story that nobody will ever know?

TOM LAKE is the best combination of characters, setting, and story. Patchett’s writing is perfect, like wrapping yourself in a soft, cozy fleece blanket on a cold winter day. You won’t want the story to end; you’ll want to stay in the cocoon of the apple orchard.

I listened to the audio version of the book and was delighted with the Earphones Award-winning narration by Meryl Streep. Her pacing, delivery, and tone were delightful. Streep and Patchett: is a perfect combination.

Publisher Harper Audio

Published August 1, 2023

Narrated Meryl Streep

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