In the 1950s, in the small town of West Annett, Maine, a minister struggles to regain his calling, his family, and his happiness in the wake of profound loss. At the same time, the community he has served so charismatically must conjure with its own strengths and failings-faith and hypocrisy, loyalty and abandonment - when a shocking secret is ...
In the 1950s, in the small town of West Annett, Maine, a minister struggles to regain his calling, his family, and his happiness in the wake of profound loss. At the same time, the community he has served so charismatically must conjure with its own strengths and failings-faith and hypocrisy, loyalty and abandonment - when a shocking secret is revealed. Tyler Caskey was not born in West Annett, but he has grown to love it; the short, brilliant summers and the sharp, piercing winters fill him with awe-as does his congregation, full of good people, people who seek his guidance and earnestly lean forward to listen as he preaches. But after suffering a terrible loss, Tyler finds it difficult returning to himself as he once was. He hasn't had The Feeling-that God is all around him, in the beauty of the land-for quite some time. He struggles to find the right words in his sermons and in his conversations with those facing crises of their own, And to bring his five-year-old daughter, Katherine, out of the silence she has observed in the wake the family's tragedy. A congregation that had once been kind and understanding during Tyler's grief now questions his leadership and propriety. In the kitchens, classrooms, offices, and stores of this village, anger and gossip have started to swirl. And in Tyler's darkest hour, a startling discovery will test his congregation's humanity-and his own will to endure the kinds of trials that sooner or later test us all.
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Ths is my least favorite book of Strout's three books. I did enjoy the book, but liked Amy & Isabelle and especially, Ollie Kitteridge much better. I always like the places Strout takes me to and most often I find one character in the book I feel I know. Not this one. So before you read this book of Strouts be sure you read the other two first.
May 17, 2007
excellent contemporary fiction
Abide With Me is one of the bext contemporary novels I've read in a long time. Unlike so many current authors who start with a fascinating plot line/twist but annot deliver a satisfying conclusion, Strout is low-key, but thoroughly engaging all the way through. She creates a convincing character who is, nonetheless, a genuinely kind, thoughtful good person. It's refreshing to see that goodness can be as interesting as perversion.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-06-05 In Strout's graceful if languid second novel, set in the cold northern reaches of New England during the Cold War, Tyler Caskey is a young minister tending to the faith of his small, gossipy parish. He's also struggling with the aftermath of his wife's premature death, which has left him with two little girls to raise. What the plot lacks in pace and surprise, Strout makes up for with intelligent, revealing portraits of many characters, and Raphael's versatile voice makes them even more memorable. Her voice shrinks remarkably to speak the lines of Caskey's traumatized older daughter; turns gruff and unhappy for Charles Austin, a church deacon wrestling with his own secret demons; and ratchets up into startlingly cold and imperious territories for Caskey's meddling mother. Raphael deftly switches from the plummy, slightly British-accented voice she uses for most of the narration to speak in the drawn-out, nasal tones of Caskey's plainspoken, friendly housekeeper. Though the abridgment cuts out some of the background story, events are still sometimes drawn out. But fans of such closely observed period pieces will no doubt revel in Strout's evocative prose and in Raphael's richly textured interpretation. Simultaneous release with the Random House hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 17). (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2005-10-17 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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