NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY: O Magazine * Good Housekeeping * Real Simple * Vulture * Chicago Tribune
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE SUMMER BY: “The Today Show” * “Good Morning America” * Wall Street Journal * San Francisco Chronicle * Southern Living
An INDIE NEXT LIST Pick
Shortlisted for the 2020 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize
Long-listed for the 2020 Tournament of Books
"Fun, hilarious, and extremely touching."—NPR
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.
In Kane's impeccably written and surprisingly moving second novel (after The Report), May Attaway is an endearingly principled university gardener approaching 40, who lives in her childhood home in Anneville with her father, a retired professor. She moved back to take care of her mother, who has since died, and has neither married nor had children. Though not unhappy, May's life is at an impasse. When a poem about a yew tree on campus wins a major prize, and a reporter points out May planted the original cutting, she is rewarded with 30 days of paid leave. This coincides with the death of a writer May never knew personally, but whose tribute site May is fond of reading after it went up following her death. So May, seeing how beloved the writer is, decides to use her month off to visit four old friends: Lindy, a happy mom of three and homemaker; Neera, living on the West Coast and navigating a disintegrating marriage; Vanessa, living a cosmopolitan life in New York; and Rose, also a gardener and living in her native England. 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.