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.
“Irresistable.” Southern Living Magazine, Best Books of Spring 2019
“Engagingly cleareyed prose about a winningly eccentric heroine in love with trees and literature.” Kirkus Reviews
“Jessica Francis Kane’s precise and moving Rules For Visiting is an altogether new sort of friendship novel, one about friendships stretched to their limits over time and space, the sort of friendships so many of us count as our closest. Kane’s gift for describing beauty and loneliness, the real stuff of life, is unparalleled.” — Emma Straub, author of Modern Lovers
“An engaging and compassionate portrait of how a root-bound, constricted life can begin to bloom. Drawing inspiration from mythic sources, Kane explores the power of friendship and of our connection to the natural world. Her descriptions of plants are transporting.”—Madeline Miller, author of Circe
“There’s a wonderful richness here in every sentence—a lyric and ambling directness that immediately feels like visiting with an old friend, and applied to an ordinariness that soon becomes sublime with topics that go anywhere and then always back to the cure this narrator is in search of: a remedy for her hesitation with life, that feels like a much larger disappointment, almost global. The novel, you soon realize, is perhaps the remedy she searches for, and you almost wish you could give it to her. But take this home with you, as this, this is for us.”—Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
“Jessica Francis Kane’s novel will win your heart: Single, melancholy, resourceful, May Attaway, the 40 year old protagonist of Rules for Visiting, sets out on travels to rekindle her oldest friendships, and thereby to find herself. Wry, witty, ultimately uplifting, this gem of a novel celebrates the gifts in our ordinary lives.”—Claire Messud, author of The Burning Girl
“In one motion Rules for Visiting can break your heart and lift your spirits up to the sky. Funny, warm, thoughtful, there’s a little Olive Kitteridge in this gem of a novel. I did not want this book to end. It is the perfect gift for friends or people you just have to visit (everyone I know is getting this!)”—Julie Klam, author of The Stars in Our Eyes: The Famous, the Infamous, and Why We Care Way Too Much About Them
“An elegant and deeply moving meditation on friendship, family, and life on earth. Rules for Visiting is a wonderful novel.”—Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven
“Jessica Francis Kane has written a vivid, elegant and masterfully constructed novel about friendship and neighbors and our own personal odysseys. This is a deeply smart book, one I had difficulty putting down. There is real wisdom in these pages.”—Stuart Nadler, author of The Inseparables