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Book reviews for "Strout,_Elizabeth" sorted by average review score:

Maine: The Seasons
Published in Hardcover by Knopf (22 May, 2001)
Authors: Terrell S. Lester, Ann Beattie, Richard Ford, Richard Russo, and Elizabeth Strout
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Slightly disappointed.
While the photography is great, it was limited to only a couple areas of Maine. I was hoping for more small town, quaint images. The only town featured was one that's not even on the map.

Stunning photographs and poetic/romantic writing. Makes me wish I had gone to Maine (during the summer of course!) while I was in college in New Jersey. This is a special book and it left me wanting more.

Photos as rich as a great painting
On the recommendation of a friend, my wife and I stumbled into a photo gallery in Deer Isle, Maine, last week during our vacation (we are from New York) to see the work of Terrell Lester, not even aware Knopf had recently published this book. We were, in short, completely blown away by his photos, all of which, and more, are collected in this remarkable book, along with four essays of varying interest. Lester's photos are like fine art, to be specific, like the best of the Hudson River School of painters back in the 1800s who created such vivid landscapes, saturated with reds and blues and yellow (and that's just in the sky). His photos of islands, mountains, rocks, lakes, surf, trees and spectacular blueberry fields blazing red in autumn are rich with emotion. They deserve to be, and in fact are, on museum walls. For the most part, they are reproduced well in "Maine: The Seasons," but in this case, you can't tell a book by its cover-- a wonderful (but rather too typical for a Maine book) photo of a father and a son heading off to work in their lobster boat. You won't be disappointed.

Amy and Isabelle
Published in Hardcover by Random House (1999)
Author: Elizabeth Strout
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An Authentic Exploration of a Mother-Daughter Relationship
"Amy and Isabelle" is the well-crafted story of a single mother Isabelle and her beautiful shy daughter Amy. The story takes place during a sweltering summer in mythical Shirley Falls. (Which reminded me of both Bedford Falls, the setting for "It's a Wonderful Life", and Seneca Falls, the upper New York State town where the first Women's Rights convention was held.) A river passing through Shirley Falls divides it into the "haves" and the "have-nots", and Isabelle has attempted to plant roots on the side with the "haves." After 14 years of trying to fit in, it's time for Isabelle to be honest about herself. Meanwhile, Amy is learning about her sexuality, and her need for love. By the end of the summer when the weather finally breaks, both Isabelle and Amy have had a kind of an awakening. Plenty of other small-town characters, from creepy Mr. Robertson to friendly Fat Bev, Avery Clark and all the church wives, and Amy's pregnant friend Stacy provide color and counterpoint to the main story.

If you're a mother or a daughter or both, like me, you will enjoy this book. I highly recommend it.

A Wonderful Story by a Talented Writer
This novel is exceptional. Elizabeth Strout manages to take a simple, almost mundane story about a mother and her teenage daughter amd make it something special. The story takes place in a year in the life of Isabelle, a single mother, and her daughter Amy. Amy falls in love with her math teacher, and mother and daughter are, at least for a while, torn apart.

What makes this novel so special is the incredible evocative powers Strout has. She is able to, with very few words, bring you to a time and a place, and you are there. That is not to say that the writing is in anyway "spare". Quite the contrary, this is a rich novel, but without any excess weight. Amy and Isabelle, as characters are completely real, completely believable.

Although I do give this novel 5 stars, it does have a few, minor flaws. Amy never wonders about her father, which I found a little hard to accept. Additionally, sometimes, Strout's involvement of the minor characters seemed a little forced. As a whole, however, this is an outstanding first novel and I look forward to her future works. I also think this would make a great book club book as in it there are many topics for discussion--mother/daughter relationships, parenting, youth, to name a few.

With Amy and Isabelle, a compellingly told mother/daughter tale, Elizabeth Strout makes her literary debut. We can only hope there are many encores for this first-time novelist who relates her story with resonant assurance. When this is coupled with Ms. Strout's balanced compassion for her characters and her sharp eye for the precise telling detail, Amy and Isabelle becomes a work to be admired and savored.

Isabelle Goodrow and her 16-year-old daughter, Amy, make their home in a small New England mill town, Shirley Falls. This is a lugubrious community where in the hot summer that Amy turns 16 and comes to dislike the sight of her mother, the river is "just a dead brown snake of a thing lying flat through the center of town."

Their rented house is in an area called the Basin, where many blue collar workers live. Isabelle, a tentative woman who wears her hair in a flat French twist and works in the office room of the mill, would never dream of buying that house because she "could not bear to stop thinking that her real life would happen somewhere else."

Hers was a solitary existence, save for Amy. Isabelle is aloof and easily wounded, hurt when the deacon's wife disapproves of the leaves Isabelle had used to decorate the church altar. And, she is proper, always sitting toward the rear of the sanctuary as her mother had taught her to do. This propriety, blended with Isabelle's innate fastidiousness made Amy's illegitimacy even more of a shameful secret.

Amy, too, was reserved. She had but one friend, Stacy, with whom she shared cigarettes, candy bars, and confidences during school lunch hours. A good student with a love for poetry, Amy had long golden hair and a slim well-developed body which made her all the more self-conscious. During classes she would duck her head down, hiding her face behind her hair.

When a substitute teacher, Mr. Robertson, teases her saying, "Come on out, Amy Goodrow, everyone's been asking about you," there is little indication of how Amy will respond.

Yet respond she does as first she is puzzled and then exultant in the burgeoning sexuality that Mr. Robertson coaxes from her. They are, of course, discovered.

The forced awareness of Amy's duplicity and also of her emerging womanhood is a devastating blow to Isabelle, who feels she has spent her life for naught. In fact, Isabelle feels as though she has died: "Her 'life' went on. But she felt little connection to anything, except for the queasiness of panic and grief."

And Amy, too, feels betrayed as she realizes that Mr. Robertson has used rather than cared for her. ".....ever since she found his number disconnected, found out that he had gone away; she could not stop her inner trembling."

With Amy and Isabelle Ms. Strout has proven herself to be a considerably gifted writer. She has drawn vividly erotic scenes, and deftly limned some of life's most tender moments. There is every indication that she well understands and cares deeply for the characters she has created.

Amy & Isabelle
Published in Audio CD by Chivers Sound Library (2001)
Authors: Elizabeth Strout, Stephanie Roberts, Linda Howard, and Kate Forbes
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Ethan Frome & Summer: & Summer (Modern Library Classics)
Published in Paperback by Modern Library (08 May, 2001)
Authors: Edith Wharton and Elizabeth Strout
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Ethan Frome and Summer
Published in Library Binding by Bt Bound (2001)
Authors: Edith Wharton, Julia Ehrhardt, and Elizabeth Strout
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