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Book Review:
Run Rose Run

Run Rose Run, a book co-authored by country music queen Dolly Parton and thriller genre stalwart James Patterson is the story of a country music wannabe and her journey to stardom. Lilette Sandhu reviews the book

An Unlikely Duet

I entered my favourite bookshop in Khan market, Delhi with a fast-beating heart. I could almost taste the anticipation of discovering a new treasure hidden among the covers of a book. I did a quick tour of the tiny shop, glancing at the new releases. ‘Run Rose Run’, was the title of a book prominently displayed in the glass case. Clearly, a thriller, I thought to myself. Not my favourite genre. I was about to move on. But wait!! The writers were Dolly Parton and James Patterson. I was a country music fan and Dolly Parton’s songs had always been a favourite with me. I had especially loved her songs ‘Jolene’ and ‘I’ll Always love You.’ James Patterson? I wracked my brain. Yes!! I had read about his expertise with thrillers but of late, he had been in the news for co-authoring the book ‘The President’s Daughter’ with Bill Clinton. I quickly googled details about the book. It was a New York Times Bestseller. It had debuted has No 1 on Amazon. Along with the book came a song book of 12 of Dolly Parton original songs. I picked up the book, a tad reverently. Seeing my interest in the book, the shop assistant, standing unobtrusively in the corner said, “an album of the songs is also available with us.” Now I was completely sold. I quickly paid for the book and the album and rushed home, in a hurry to read the book.

I spent the entire afternoon reading the book. As I turned the last page of the book, Dolly Parton’s beautiful Appalachian ballad ‘Blue Bonnet Breeze’ from the Album ‘run Rose Run’ still played in the background on rewind. I sat back and closed my eyes. Her songbook had been a gem. Her album was beautiful. The book? The book was a page turner. No doubt about it. The storyline was a bit thin. It was definitely not in line for a literary award or critical acclaim. But the rags-to-rhinestones story of AnnieLee Keyes, a wannabe country star with a traumatic hidden past, who makes it big in Nashville, had been riveting enough for me to read the book in one go. Dolly Parton’s familiarity with the music business industry and the underbelly of stardom gives the story credibility and authenticity. James Patterson’s way with words has us glued to each word. AnnieLee’s character is clearly contoured on the young, plucky and starry-eyed, Dolly. The lines ‘AnnieLee couldn’t hear the call of the wood thrush, the plink plink plink of a leaky faucet, or the rumbling rhythm of a freight train without turning it into a tune,’ is a dead giveaway. Although, one could do with a somewhat more complex character, a little more depth insight into the working of the mind of the main protagonist. The entry into the Cat’s Paw salon, coincidentally owned by a country music legend and overnight stardom of an ingenue singer is also a little difficult to swallow but I guess fiction allows for some artistic license.

On the positive side, the character of Ruthanna Ryder, Annie’s musical mentor is also contoured on the older Dolly Parton and is certainly more layered and complex than that of her protégé. One thing is for sure. The book is more of an emotional drama than a mystery thriller. Despite continuous references to a dark, haunting secret, despite the repeated attacks on Annie by unknown and mysterious assailants, the ‘thriller’ genre at no point is able to overpower the emotional rags-to-riches feel-good story of a Houston waif. And yet the momentum of the book is fast paced and keeps the reader turning pages, in a hurry to delve deeply into the story and arrive at its final outcome. The unlikely duo of Dolly Parton and Patterson have managed to put together a page turner. No wonder the book is being adapted into a film by Reese Witherspoon. The Songbook and the music album are the cherry on the cake. A good read for lovers of Country music and devoted fans of Dolly Parton. From one music lover to another: ‘The album is a must buy.’

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About the Authors

Dolly Parton & James Patterson

Dolly Rebecca Parton  is an American singer-songwriter, actress, philanthropist, and businesswoman, known primarily for her work in country music. She has garnered 11 Grammy awards,  including the Lifetime Achievement Award; ten Country Music Association Awards, including Entertainer of the Year. In 2022, she was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

James Brendan Patterson is an American author. Among his works are the Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Women's Murder Club, Maximum Ride etc.  His books have sold more than 400 million copies, and he was the first person to sell 1 million e-books. In 2016, Patterson topped Forbes's list of highest-paid authors for the third consecutive year. In November 2015, Patterson received the Literarian Award from the national Book Foundation, which cited him as a "passionate campaigner to make books and reading a national priority." A generous supporter of universities, teachers colleges, independent bookstores, school libraries, and college students, Patterson has donated millions of dollars in grants and scholarships

Music Instrument

Lillete Sandhu is a Delhi-based music enthusiast who coaches youngsters in Indian Classical music and jazz. She has an old gramaphone on which she listens to old vinyl records. She says she has a collection of LPs to die for.

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