Kane’s preternaturally self-aware heroine is an intriguing mix of frustrating curmudgeon and aging ingenue, and in her quest for self-improvement, she voices the doubts and dreams of any woman who has questioned what it means to be a true friend. Rich in subtexts and lush imagery, Kane’s novel is a sure bet for lively book discussions.
A skillful writer can show how things that seem unrelated are actually intertwined. In this way, Kane quietly reminds us that friendships and plants may be deeply rooted but need tending to bloom completely, that words matter, that going back to their roots may change how we think about what we say, and that a quiet life can be a full one. This gentle book grows on you (the puns just keep coming), but it is a refreshing change from the stresses of our digital age or the angst of so many recent books about contemporary life. Entertaining and erudite, I highly recommend this book.
... has too many fun, hilarious, and extremely touching twists and turns to detail further here, and its coming out right around Mother's Day is no coincidence. By the end of the book, I loved May as a character, and I understood her; she reveals elements of her own history and choices slowly, in dribs and drabs. She doesn't need me to like her, though. She has her plants, her father, some new or revitalized friendships, and her own sharp and witty mind to keep her company. She is no Grendel — only a deeply alive human.
A 21st-century novel for those with old-fashioned sensibilities, Rules for Visiting is an empathetic yet enigmatic read. May’s story is not for the impatient, as the narrative perambulates through a series of discursive musings on friendship, flora, family, grief and how connections can fail or flourish in this modern age. For much of the novel, May keeps the reader at arm’s length, charming with her wry wit but using these rhetoric sleights of hand as substitutes for real understanding and intimacy. But as May becomes more comfortable with the art of connecting with the people in her life, she reveals more of her true heart to the reader as well, gradually shedding light on the trauma that led to such a closed-off life ... takes its time to fully take root, but the end result is a sturdy novel that blossoms rather beautifully.
Despite the wire hanger of a plot surrounding these visits, the novel turns on narrator May’s ruminations ... May is generous in sharing her thoughts, but the reader must search between the lines to read her heart as May begins receiving postcards hinting at a desire for more than friendship from a nice man back home ... Engagingly cleareyed prose about a winningly eccentric heroine in love with trees and literature.
... impeccably written and surprisingly moving ... On May’s visits, she comes to realize the importance of empathy in cultivating relationships, not only with them but with the many people in her life, both past and present. May’s journey is lovely and deeply affecting.