I first encountered Ann Patchett when my book club chose her third novel, The Magician’s Assistant, for our monthly conversation. This quirky novel about Sabine, the widowed assistant to her magician husband, enchanted me. I was drawn both to the characters and the limpid prose. She had me. I have read all of her subsequent books—three novels (Bel Canto, Run, and State of Wonder) and two works of non-fiction. The first of these, Truth and Beauty, tells the moving story of her relationship with an extraordinary friend who dies young. The second, which I just finished, is a compilation of essays that she wrote, mostly for magazines, in order to allow her to pursue her novel-writing passion. I was a little put off by the title: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Who wants to read about that, I thought? Turns out the title essay was one of my favorites, about the family history and meandering path that led her to her current husband. I also loved the two essays about Truth and Beauty and the controversy it provoked the year it was the book selected to be read by all incoming freshmen at Clemson. The essays draw us into her life and provide glimpses of what writing means to her and how it works for her. For those who love intriguing stories, peopled by compelling characters, and rendered in gorgeously clear writing, discovering Ann Patchett is a real gift. Start anywhere.