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Abide with Me: A Novel Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (March 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400062071
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400062072
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

From The New Yorker

The handsome minister Tyler Caskey, of West Annett, Maine, is beloved by his parishioners because he really does think they're all God's children. But in the bleak autumn of 1959, more than a year after the death of his wife, Tyler is still awash in grief. The man who once held them rapt from the pulpit now appears ridiculous up there—"like a big tractor being driven by a teenage kid, slipping in and out of gear"—and his daughter has started screaming and spitting in kindergarten. How can he lead them if he himself is lost? Just as she did in her first novel, "Amy and Isabelle," Strout has created an absorbing world peopled by characters who argue the merits of canned cranberry sauce and using one's turn signal; meanwhile, dark fears about Freud and Khrushchev run beneath the surface of their lives like water under ice. With superlative skill, Strout challenges us to examine what makes a good story—and what makes a good life.
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker

More About the Author

Elizabeth Strout is the author of the New York Times bestseller Olive Kitteridge, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; the national bestseller Abide with Me; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in London. She lives in Maine and New York City.

Customer Reviews

The writing is so skilled and beautiful.
Fairlee E. Winfield
He's a rather unlikable character throughout the story, and it seems like the author was trying to redeem him in the end, but it seemed a little forced.
JJ Stark
Beautiful intimate examination of loss, grief and redemption.
senja

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 101 people found the following review helpful By G. Bestick VINE VOICE on September 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Novelists, like high divers, should get extra points for degree of difficulty. Elizabeth Strout set her first novel in a dying New England mill town. She took the story of a sullen teenager and her tightly-wound mother and made something special of it. She pulls off another difficult maneuver in Abide with Me, which excavates the emotional lives of a Protestant congregation in rural Maine, a place where people pride themselves on keeping emotions buttoned down and zippered up.

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.
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99 of 107 people found the following review helpful By RBSProds TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Five Stars!! Spinning off of the theme of life in small town northern New England, Elizabeth Strout conjures up another winner of a novel detailing the inner most feellngs of the human condition and inter-personal relationships, buffeted by duty, change, and tragedy. Much like the preceding novel, "Amy and Isabelle", set in a different fictional New England town, this is MESMERIZING writing.

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!)
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 29, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Elizabeth Strout won me with her debut novel, Amy and Isabelle. I found it to be both affecting and compelling, written by one who felt a deep affection for the characters she created and also possessed a sympathetic understanding of the human condition. The same might be said of Abide With Me set in West Annett, Maine.

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
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