Abide with Me: A Novel Hardcover – Large Print, Mar 14 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Strout's satisfying follow-up to her 1999 debut, Amy and Isabel, follows a recent widower from grief through breakdown to recovery in 1959 smalltown Maine. The father of two young girls and the newly appointed minister of the fictional town of West Annett, Tyler Caskey is quietly devastated by wife Lauren's death following a prolonged illness. Tyler's older daughter Katherine is deeply antisocial at school and at home; his adorable younger daughter Jeannie has been sent to live upstate with Tyler's overbearing mother. Talk begins to spread of Katherine's increasing unsoundness and of Tyler's possible affair with his devoted-though-suspicious housekeeper, Connie Hatch. It's spearheaded by the gossipy Ladies' Aide Society, whose members bear down on Tyler like the dark clouds of a gathering storm. Meanwhile, Tyler's grief shades into an angry, cynical depression, leaving him unable to parent his troubled daughter or minister to his congregation, and putting his job and family at risk. Strout's deadpan, melancholy prose powerfully conveys Tyler's sense of internal confinement. The uplifting ending arrives too easily, but on the whole, Strout has crafted a harrowing meditation of exile on Main Street. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
Strout's quiet, graceful second novel is much like its hero, minister Tyler Caskey: earnest, introspective, and prone to occasional outbursts of deeply felt emotion. Set in the small town of West Annett, Maine, in the 1950s, the novel focuses on the two years after the death of Tyler's vibrant, charismatic wife, Lauren. Although Tyler has always been well liked in West Annett, Lauren never fit in with the wives in the village, who were put off by her stylish clothing and aloof nature. Now their young daughter Katherine is finding herself equally ostracized, and Tyler is offended and disturbed when Katherine's teacher suggests the girl might need to talk with the school counselor. Distressed, Tyler turns to his only ally, his unobtrusive but observant housekeeper, Connie Hatch. But Connie has secrets of her own, and when word gets out that the police want her for questioning about a series of thefts, she disappears. Readers who enjoyed Strout's first book, Amy and Isabelle (1999), will find much to move them in this tale of a man trying to get past his grief amid a town full of colorful people with their own secrets and heartaches. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The year is 1959 and this small New England town is like many others. It is a place where some secrets are kept and others are whispered. A pillar of the community is Tyler Caskey, a minister with a loyal following, who strives to serve his congregants well.
When is wife dies quite suddenly Tyler is left with two young girls, Jeannie, the baby of the family goes to live with her grandmother and Katharine who at the age of five shows various signs of an emotional disturbance stays in West Annett with her father.
Tyler has his hands full, trying to remain steadfast despite his heartrending loss and care for Katharine. When her teacher makes an appointment with him to discuss the child's problems she misreads Tyler, finding him to be imperious rather than concerned. She spreads her opinion of him throughout the town.
There is but one friend for Tyler and that is Connie his housekeeper. She is someone in whom he can confide. When he attempts to bring Jeannie home to be cared for by Connie, his mother strenuously objects. In addition, Tyler's very world seems to be crumbling about him as his beliefs are shaken.
One again Elizabeth Strout has crafted a story of timeless appeal with life, God, honor, and respect as the foundation for her narrative.
Actress Gerrianne Raphael is a versatile performer with theatre credits ranging from Man of a Mancha to Li'l Abner to Candide with the Philadelphia Opera. Her reading brings tears to the eyes and joy to the heart as listeners are carried to a more than satisfying denouement.
- Gail Cooke