It is difficult for an author to get out of a genre once he has firmly ensconced himself in it. Readers at first looked askance at Stephen King when DIFFERENT SEASONS was published. What?! Where are the vampires? No school gyms set on fire?!! Not even a good plague? DIFFERENT SEASONS ultimately gained wide acceptance, of course, thanks to a couple of movies based on tales within that volume. But it was a rough road for a minute or two. It's even worse for other authors. Ask Robert Parker, who will immediately tell you that of all the novels he has written, his favorite is...ALL OUR YESTERDAYS, which has no one named Spenser in it and which, according to Parker, sold abysmally.
Readers like some familiarity, if not predictability. You're not going to buy a children's book by Anne Rice for your five-year-old (not without reading it very carefully beforehand, anyhow). A book by Tom Clancy titled PEACE BE TO YOU: How America Can Love Its Enemies would, I think, stiff almost immediately. It's a truism: certain authors become associated with certain types of books.
Which brings us to WISH YOU WELL by David Baldacci. We're used to tales of suspense and intrigue from Baldacci, double-crosses and intrigue and lawyers and government agents and the like. And in WISH YOU WELL, we get...well, there is a lawyer in it, and some angry farmers set a neighbor's barn on fire, which I guess is either intrigue or a double-cross; but that notwithstanding, you're not going to get your standard Baldacci fare here.
WISH YOU WELL primarily concerns Louisa Mae ("Lou") and Oz Cardinal, the children of a well-known but financially struggling author. An automobile accident kills their father, leaves their mother catatonic, and yanks the children from their familiar big city life into the comparatively primitive environment of 1940 rural Virginia. The children and their vegetative mother are sent to live with Louisa Cardinal, Lou and Oz's great-grandm