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Amy and Isabelle Lib/E Audio CD – Unabridged, 1 June 2001
In her stunning first novel, Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout evokes a teenager's alienation from her distant mother-and a parent's rage at the discovery of her daughter's sexual secrets. In most ways, Isabelle and Amy are like any mother and her sixteen-year-old daughter, a fierce mix of love and loathing exchanged in their every glance. And eating, sleeping, and working side by side in the gossip-ridden mill town of Shirley Falls doesn't help matters. But when Amy is discovered behind the steamed-up windows of a car with her math teacher, the vast and icy distance between mother and daughter becomes unbridgeable.
As news of the scandal reaches every ear, it is Isabelle who suffers from the harsh judgment of Shirley Falls, intensifying her shame about her own secret past. And as Amy seeks comfort elsewhere, she discovers the fragility of human happiness through other dramas, from the horror of a missing child to the trials of Fat Bev, the community peacemaker.
Witty and often profound, Amy and Isabelle confirms Elizabeth Strout as a powerful new talent.
[A] portrait of people coming to terms with their lives, finding unsuspected nobility in themselves and unexpected kindness in others along the way. Elizabeth Strout has written a gem of a novel.-- "Amazon.com, editorial review"
An expansiveness and inventiveness that is the mark of a true storyteller.-- "Philadelphia Inquirer"
An exquisitely nuanced exploration of the complex relationship between a single mother and her teenage daughter.-- "Barnes & Noble, editorial review"
One of those rare, invigorating books that take an apparently familiar world and peer into it with ruthless intimacy, revealing a strange and startling place.-- "New York Times Book Review"
Strout demonstrates exceptional poise, and an uncommon ability to render complex emotions with clarity and a sympathetic intelligence, evoking comparisons with the work of Alice Munro and Anne Tyler.-- "Kirkus Reviews"
Strout's insights into the complex psychology between [mother and daughter] result in a poignant tale about two coming of age.-- "Time"
This is a beautifully written novel with characters so real that readers will miss them at the book's resolute ending. Their interactions are riveting.-- "Library Journal"
About the Author
Elizabeth Strout is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge, the #1 New York Times bestseller My Name Is Lucy Barton, and the New York Times bestseller The Burgess Boys, as well as Abide with Me, a Book Sense pick, and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including the New Yorker and O: The Oprah Magazine.
Stephanie Roberts is a native of Washington State. She studied acting at Cornish College of the Arts and has been performing, writing, directing, and teaching theater in Seattle and throughout the country for over a decade.
- Publisher : Blackstone Publishing; Unabridged edition (1 June 2001)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 0792799070
- ISBN-13 : 978-0792799078
- Dimensions : 18.03 x 3.81 x 15.75 cm
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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Her prose is exquisite and her narrative was gripping me and drove me to finish book this in a couple of days once I got to page 50.
She really captures the setting having travelled to Maine in late 2019 but this situation could apply to any small town. She gently but firmly leaves you with the moral lesson but doesn't try to wrap it all up too neatly at the end.
I really look forward to reading the rest of her oeuvre and will be sure to pick up 3 more of her titles when I visit Mum next.
Top reviews from other countries
So it was for me with Amy and Isabelle, a novel that almost overwhelms with its evocative prose, atmospheric setting and an emotional depth that tugs persistently at your consciousness.
There is no intricately woven plot here, just a simple story of a group of women sharing a workplace in a small town during an unbearably hot summer. But as the heat builds, so do events that will reveal secrets and change lives and the way people see themselves and others. The story unfolds slowly, like a flower opening petal by petal, but possesses a fierce intensity and clarity of vision that makes it impossible to put down.
The narrative is supremely eloquent, interspersed with bright flashes of humor and a languid sensuality bordering on the erotic.
At its core, Strout’s beautifully told narrative is about women and the bonds that unite them. It explores the different stages of womanhood and the trials women face but ultimately overcome. The message: women are strong and pull together in the face of adversity—sisterhood is all powerful. Men, on the other hand, are weak, manipulative, predatory.
For me, one of Strout’s greatest skills is her ability to craft characters that are both complex and relatable. Even minor characters leap to life in a few, perfectly chosen words. Single mother Isabelle is a triumph, a seething mass of contradictions: aloof but longing to belong, prim but beset by sexual fantasies. Amy, the rebellious 15 year-old, bereft of emotional anchorage, evokes pity and understanding. The gulf between the two reverberates with missed steps and lost opportunities.
This is a novel to be savoured word by word, page by page. It is a thing of rare beauty, and I loved every moment I spent with it.
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This is not an ‘edge of the seat’ exciting book-it’s a poignant look at the relationship between a mother and daughter, I would guess in the 1970s early 1980s. Amy, an awkward 16 years old, with an introvert manner and difficult relationship with her mother, Isobel, has a crush on her maths teacher. This leads to trouble. It’s the mundane, everyday happenings that Strout makes interesting and as the storyline progresses the reasons for the difficult relationship are revealed, with a look into Isobel’s past.
I would recommend this for its classic writing.