Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

One True Thing: A Novel

One True Thing: A Novel

3.7 29
by Anna Quindlen

See All Formats & Editions

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “[Anna Quindlen] writes passionately . . . painstakingly uncovering all the intensity, suspicion and primitive love that bonds mothers and daughters.”—The Boston Globe
Ellen Gulden is enjoying her career as a successful magazine writer in New York City when


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “[Anna Quindlen] writes passionately . . . painstakingly uncovering all the intensity, suspicion and primitive love that bonds mothers and daughters.”—The Boston Globe
Ellen Gulden is enjoying her career as a successful magazine writer in New York City when she learns that her mother, Kate, is dying of cancer. Ellen’s father insists that she quit her job and return home to become a caregiver. A high-powered career woman, Ellen has never felt she had much in common with her mother, a homemaker and the heart of their family. Yet as Ellen begins to spend time with Kate, she discovers many surprising truths, not only about herself, but also about the woman she thought she knew so well.
Later, when Ellen is accused of the mercy killing of her mother, she must not only defend her own life but make a difficult choice—either accept responsibility for an act she did not commit or divulge the name of the person she believes committed a painful act of love.
Praise for One True Thing
“A triumph.”San Francisco Chronicle
“We leave One True Thing stimulated and challenged, more thoughtful than when we began.”Los Angeles Times
“Like a brush with mortality, One True Thing leaves the reader feeling grateful, wide awake, lucky to be alive.”—Michael Chabon
“It calls you back for another read. . . . This is a book of catharsis.”The Denver Post
“Fiercely compassionate and frank.”Elle

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

ANNA QUINDLEN  is the author of five novels (Blessings, Object Lessons, One True Thing, Black and Blue, Rise and Shine), and six nonfiction books (Being Perfect, Loud & Clear, A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Living Out Loud, Thinking Out Loud, How Reading Changed My Life). She has also written two children's books (The Tree That Came to Stay, Happily Ever After). Her New York Times column "Public and Private" won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. Her column now appears every other week in Newsweek.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Brief Biography

New York, New York
Date of Birth:
July 8, 1952
Place of Birth:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
B.A., Barnard College, 1974

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

One True Thing 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading Black and Blue by the same author and thoroughly enjoying it, I decided to give One True Thing a try. From the first page, I was drawn into Ellen's story. Like Ellen, I love my mother but often have a difficult time understanding her, and I am not very close to her. Reading this book helped me to appreciate my mother even more. I am not a very emotional person, and I am not a big crier, but after finishing One True Thing I used up almost a whole box of tissues. For anyone that is browsing the shelves and looking for a good book to read, One True Thing is a perfect choice. I have read a lot of books, and this is one of the best books that I've ever read. Anna Quindlen has an amazing ability to write a story that is interesting, characters that you can relate to, and themes and morals that really make you think.
1louise1 More than 1 year ago
Ellen returns home to take care of her mother, who is dying from cancer, where the experience uncovers many secrets. This one is powerful with tremendous insight into the heart of relationships. Fabulous read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
One True Thing is one of those books that, once started, cannot be left alone. I began reading it shortly after my mother finally succumbed to a long illness. I needed desperately to talk to someone who understood how I felt--and I found her within the pages of this book. A must-read for anyone who has ever experienced the grief of losing a parent.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read of Anna Quindlen, whoever doesn't read this book is really missing out on some excitement, this book has suspense, drama, excitement, everything that makes a great book great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I actually read this book after I had seen the movie. I think we as humans think we have all the time in the world, but the sad truth is that we don't, and we really don't appreciate the depth of a mother's love until it is too late. This book brings that to the table very openly and honestly. It forces you to think, and re-evaluate your relationship with your mother, even others you share your life with.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One True Thing While reading Anna Quindlen¿s novel One True Thing I quickly recognized a good book. Ellen, the main character, grew up in a small town on the east coast. Here everyone lives in colonials and capes with little gardens in the front. The perfect little neighborhood. Everyone knows each other and there business, especially when things are wrong. That is why it was no surprise to me when Ellen decided to move to New York City to pursue her talent as a journalist in one of the popular magazines. There was nothing holding her back to the town. No great opportunity, no friends, not even her family whom she had never had a strong relationship with anyway. Ellen never really had that mother-daughter relationship that you read about in books and see in the movies. I think the character that Quindlen created as Ellen is a lot like a lot of girls which is much of the reason why it is easy to relate and exciting to read. What gives the novel a twist is when Kate, Ellen¿s mother, is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her father makes Ellen feel extremely guilty until she feels obligated to move back home and care for her dying mother. The true tragedy of the disease makes you feel not only for Kate but for Ellen as well who is losing someone she didn¿t really know. The theme that is apparent throughout the novel is, knowing yourself. Ellen had yet to realize who she was and what she was meant to do in the world. Kate on the other hand had her whole life to look back on to determine if she did indeed make the right choices. Ellen had always viewed her mother whom she had been around since the day she was born as a puppet. She cared for the children and cooked for her husband. Her husband cheated on her but everyday when he came home dinner would be there and the children were bathed and ready for bed. But it was only in the last few months of Kate¿s life that Ellen really understood the depth behind her mother. This novel really explores the depth of mother-daughter relationships and makes you think about your own connection with your mother. The things that Ellen finds out about her mother in those last few months is astounding and makes you question how much you really know about your own mother. I would recommend this book to everyone who doesn¿t mind a tear-jerker and who likes real life stories; this is sure to be a true classic.
Anonymous 22 days ago
Exellent!!!!! Touched you right from the beginning.
Anonymous 30 days ago
I've known many people who have died from cancer, and have never heard of an autopsy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Most likely you will not go back to read this"REVIEW"because one,yours was written about three years ago and two you don't like to read reviews,just a rating,the way I take it.Just if the book was good or bad!!I must say you are certainatly in a class of your own.Are you saying that if someone says buy the book,it'good.What are you going to do if the next person says the book sucked.I've never ever known a topic that has ever had the same opinion from everyone.You're my mind blower of the day!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was good, it touched me in many ways but it was not her best. Blessings was better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For mothers and daughters everywhere, Anna Quindlen¿s One True Thing is an easy book to fall in love with. This novel describes and depicts the lives of two individuals in their struggle and journey of harmonious growth. The journey of Ellen and her mother is one that most of us know, or will come to know. Through tears and laughter, Quindlen touches us all through the novel¿s central theme ?what it means to have and be a mother. The relationship between a mother and her daughter is much like the connection between vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup; in many ways the two are different and do not need one another, but all the same, they complement each other to form a wonderful bond. In Anna Quindlen¿s One True Thing, the mother-daughter relationship is examined extensively. Quindlen focuses on issues such as the interdependency and role reversal that take place between a mother and her daughter during complicated life experiences. Empathy, sympathy, and the formation of a bond are all aspects of a mother-daughter relationship that come into effect when times are unfortunate. As complex as mother-daughter relationships tend to be, there is always a little indication of love and family ties and responsibility that hold the two together. Personality conflicts between mother and daughter can result in a loose, underdeveloped relationship. In One True Thing, Quindlen emphasizes the difference in Ellen and Kate's personalities through the use of flashback and simple examples of the two handling comparable situations in differently. The mother-daughter relationship portrayal in Hope Floats exemplifies a similar situation in which Birdee and her mother have extreme personality differences. Both pieces of work take place during life-altering struggles, and it is during these unfortunate times that discrepancies must be worked out, as mother and daughter must adjust to their newly conditioned lifestyles. In times of difficult, life-altering circumstances, it is possible for an interdependency to develop between a mother and her daughter. For example, in Hope Floats, Birdee has been humiliated by her husband, which results in a divorce, forcing her to return to live at her mother's house. Birdee and her mother are particularly dependent on one another; however, it is for diverse reasons that each individual's dependency subsists. Birdee needs her mother for the essentials in life, such as food and shelter, but more importantly, she needs her mother's support and sympathy. Her mother, on the other hand, simply needs someone whom she can take care, other than herself (Hope Floats). Similar to the situation in Hope Floats, Ellen and Kate of One True Thing are dependent of one another; Kate needs her daughter to take care of her as she struggles with her terminal illness, while Ellen consciously and instinctively needs the existence of a mother in her life. A significant aspect of the relationship between a mother and her daughter is the issue of bonding. Some mother-daughter bonds are established at birth and strengthened through time. Quindlen, however, focuses on the lack of closeness between mother and daughter, and the bonding that occurs as a result of forced time spent together. Bonding is indicative of many feelings, such as compassion, empathy, and the existence of both contentment and despair. In One True Thing, Ellen is forced to become her mother's caretaker. Although this causes conflicts with her personal desires, Ellen reluctantly remains faithful to her mother, and in due time, a closeness develops between the two. The initial occurrence of bonding between Ellen and Kate takes place when Ellen takes time to listen to her mother's stories. Shortly after, they watch movies together, which produces mutual tears, and in heart brings them closer together. Sympathy, an important factor in the process of bonding during difficult circumstances, strengthens mother-daughter relationships. Ellen b