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Abide with Me: A Novel Paperback – March 13, 2007
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From The New Yorker
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The year is 1959. Tyler Caskey, a minister in West Annett, Maine has recently lost his wife to cancer. He's trying to get past his grief, dress and feed his two little girls, and tend to the needs of his congregation, but his efforts are getting as ragged as the cuffs of his dress shirts. The book starts slowly, and it's hard at first to tell one taciturn member of Tyler's congregation from another. About a third of the way in, a few faces start to separate out from the crowd: the church deacon Charlie Austin, who hates his day-to-day life and escapes it by visiting a naughty lady down in Boston; Tyler's housekeeper Connie Hatch, who has a secret that's growing in her like a tumor; Rhonda Skillings, a school guidance counselor besotted with Freud's swirling sexual underworld.
Tyler keeps turning over memories of his wife Lauren. She taught him about love, but this girl from a well-to-do Boston family wasn't really cut out to be a small-town minister's wife. The congregation, smitten with Tyler, never warmed up to Lauren. As Tyler feels his faith slipping away, his zeal for his calling starts to diminish. The congregation senses his withdrawal, and resents it. His daughter Katherine is acting out all over, and Tyler's not prepared to deal with it.Read more ›
We already know from the editorial reviews that this novel is heading towards some sort of a surprise near the end, but in getting there Ms Strout's prose makes us want this journey to continue much longer! Considering the prosaic subject matter, the life of small town preacher Tyler Caskey, and his family, friends, parishioners, and gossipy townsfolk, she conjures up one heck of a fictional ride. Tyler, whose center of gravity balances between God's word and layman philosophers. Ms Strout effectively draws us in and keeps us beguiled with her rich cast of characters, her 'attention to detail' (Connie's hair, for instance; the minister's old shirt; or the effects of fall weather) and her elegant, stark prose, peppered with down-home phrases like "skitter-skatter". By the time Connie Hatch steps into the forefront, this novel is riveting in it's intensity and beauty. The church congregation scene is flat out wonderful writing, as are the final scenes between Tyler and George.
I guessed at a different ending, but Ms Strout is firmly in control and takes us where her compass wants us to be and it's a wonderful ending. This is a great fictional study in small town complexities and humanity. And she leaves us wanting more! Highly Recommended. Five Wonderful Stars!!
(Note: I found the Fournier typeface to be very elegant and readable. This review is based on an unabridged digital download, which makes digital disc a great new home storage alternative for novels. Thank you, Random House!)
One of Strout's strengths is her attention to detail. She describes West Annett so vividly that the reader has a perfect mental picture of this place and its inhabitants. Strout depicts the bored housewives who have little to occupy their minds other than shopping, cooking, cleaning, charity work, and gossip. Tyler's job is a difficult one. He has to advise his congregants when they are in trouble, keep the church going on the limited funds that are available, and withstand the barbs of certain outspoken individuals who have their own agendas.
The author's portrait of Tyler is magnificent. He is a gentle and highly intelligent man, whose idol is the great Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer, who was born in 1906, defied the Nazis and gave up his life for his beliefs.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great early work by the author of Olive Kitterage and the Burgess Boys.Published 4 days ago by Book Worm
As in most Strout novels, thought-provoking, depressing and uplifting at the same time. Raised more questions than answers and am still wondering about specific plot lines. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Deb
At first I did struggle getting into this story. I never had a small town small church type of life so I wasn't ok with how much everyone seemed to know about one another. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Barbara J. Scott
Great book. It helped me through a grief Ina way no self-help book could. Beautiful. Heart wrenching.Published 2 months ago by M. E. M.
Abide With Me is a very absorbing book about a minister and his family and church. Elizabeth Strout does quite a good job making the characters real. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Travis Cargill
I am an ardent fan of Miss Strout - have voraciously read her other three books and loved them all. Though I enjoyed Abide With Me - for me it didn't come close to Olive, Boys or... Read morePublished 3 months ago by ScarletM
Vulgar and unnecessarily profane. I have never thrown a book away in my 79 years but I don't think I want anyone to read this smut. So, to the trash it goes. . .Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Elizabeth Stout creates an entire small world in this wonderful novel, about a small town preacher in Maine at the dawn of the nuclear age. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Noozgal
The author had the ability to transport the reader into village life with such vivid descriptions of the scenery, the homes, and the people who lived there. Read morePublished 3 months ago by marcymcq