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Any Bitter Thing: A Novel Hardcover – May 12, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; Second Edition edition (May 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811846040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811846042
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.3 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,395,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A near-fatal accident in the dark of night—30-year-old Lizzy is struck in a hit-and-run—sets in motion a complicated, surprising story of love, loss and sacrifice. When Lizzy was two, her parents were killed in a plane crash, and she was sent to live with her beloved Uncle Mike, a Catholic priest. In prose as fresh and lovely as a Maine summer evening, Lizzy tells of seven halcyon years with her uncle. But when a bitter housekeeper falsely accuses Mike of sexually abusing Lizzy, her cozy world is shattered. Sent to live with relatives, Lizzy is told that Mike succumbed to the weak family heart and died. So how has he visited her in her hospital room after the hit-and-run? This, as well as the mystery of why Father Mike meekly accepted the accusations leveled against him, begins to come clear when Lizzy's accident and rehabilitation dredge up questions of another tragic event, long hidden. Following the structure of the Liturgy of the Hours from Invitatory to Matins, Wood (My Only Story) employs a sophisticated, layered architecture, circling from present to past to reveal shocking truths. Interspersed with Lizzy's first-person narration are sections told from Uncle Mike's third-person perspective, which provide mesmerizing insight into what is known and what is remembered. Wood's story unassumingly builds in power, right up to its moving final page.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The victim of a hit-and-run accident, Lizzy Mitchell is left by the driver in the middle of the median, hurt and adrift. Later Lizzie comes to see the accident as indicative of her life up to that point. Raised by her uncle Mike, a Maine priest, Lizzy grows up surrounded by his devotion to ministry. But at age nine, her comfortable world crumbles when her uncle is accused of molestation. Lizzy, now a high-school counselor, is still trying to make sense of what happened to her uncle. Wood's characters, similar to those in Mary Lawson's Crow Lake (2002), show refreshing depth and complexity as they each grapple with the irrefutable power of the past. This emotional story is filled with crisp, rich details that linger in the memory much like the Moxie soda that Lizzy recalls from her Maine summers. Wood's stirring domestic drama is full of surprises as it explores the weighty themes of religion, perceived innocence, and the corrosive quality of best intentions. Misha Stone
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Amazing story, beautifully written.
JenC
I'm now going to read "My Only Story" and I'm anxious to find all of her other books, as well.
Book Lover
Great story of love, loss, redemption, forgiveness, relationships.
Erin Brooks

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Kay on February 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
ANY BITTER THING is one of the best books I've ever read. It's a beautifully written, heartbreaking story of love and loss, one that stays in your mind for a long time. From the first page, it grabs you by the throat and never lets go. Others have summarized the story, so I won't. I'll just say that Monica Wood is an immensely talented writer and I hope to see many more of her books in the future. Bravo, Ms. Wood! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Erin Brooks on March 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Following her parents' death, 2-year old Lizzie goes to live with her uncle, a young priest. Until she is taken away from him age 9 on child abuse accusations, Lizzie has the perfect childhood where she admires and idealises Father Mike. Age 9, things go horribly wrong, and for reasons no one can understand, Father Mike leaves Lizzie to go to live with her much disliked and distant aunt, who sends her to boarding school.

Fast forward 20 years, and here is Lizzie who coming out of a hit and run, has a vision of Father Mike at her side while in hospital. While her accident and vision threaten to destroy her already shaky marriage and career, Lizzie holds on to her beliefs and persists into finding out what her vision was all about. We follow Lizzie as she remembers her idyllic childhood, and tries to figure out how things went so wrong.

This is a very good book, with endearing characters, though Father Mike is incredibly hard to understand and I think Wood should have been less forgiving to him - which would have been more realistic. While the book is very well written, some of the characters' actions were difficult to understand (which is what makes the book interesting, I guess!). Great story of love, loss, redemption, forgiveness, relationships. Recommended.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Lori A. Oliveira on June 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'm amazed that there are so few reviews here on Amazon thus far...and can only imagine that once this book makes itself known the enthusiastic reviews will come pouring in!!!! I agree wholeheartedly with the reviewer from Western Maine (which just happens to be where I read this marvelous work of art while vacationing recently!) when she states that ". . . Any Bitter Thing is a tribute to the nuances and possibilities of the English language...". Monica Wood's writing is simply exquisite, there is no other way to describe her superb skill and talent with words!!! Beautifully written and thoroughly engrossing, I savored each sentence. This is truly a remarkable book and I would love to see it get the attention and recognition it deserves! Bravo Monica Wood!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mary Lehner on November 4, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Monica Wood writes beautifully, and reading her book was delightful.

She draws very clear characters and weaves their stories together smoothly.

My book club read it, and we had one of our best ever discussions, covering

a wide range of topics, from different kinds of love to the Catholic

church to children as witnesses to how people make the sacrifices they

do for each other. I strongly recommend Any Bitter Thing.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Branch on July 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
Beautiful lyrical writing combined with never-know-what- happens-next suspense make this book impossible to put down. I stayed up late to finish it and eagerly passed it on to a friend the next day. She loved it as much as I did. The twist toward the end is surprising, but it makes the beginning even better when you go back and reread with new knowledge about what's really going on. Yes - I did read it twice. AND I plan to read it again this fall with my book discussion group.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dan on May 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would certainly agree with the editorial reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Booklist -- this is a remarkable book. I seldom read a book more than once, and often don't finish books I have started, but I read Any Bitter Thing again immediately. I will probably read it again. It is thoughtful, complex, beautifully written, and full of surprises. It is also, almost as an afterthought, a profound examination of faith. For the first time, I feel some understanding of why a man would make the sacrifice necessary to become a priest. As a devoted uncle, I am also grateful to see that relationship explored so lovingly in print.

This is prose written with the care of poetry. I was hooked on the first page, and never felt let down, mislead or distracted. I did not skip a single sentence, much less the pages I often turn unread in other books. It is a completely satisfying, and potentially important book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ronna on March 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I loved this beautiful, thought provoking, heart-centered story of people at their best, in their deepest needs, and at their worst. Belonging and redemption are at the heart of this beautifully written story. I believe others of all faiths in a 'God' of their own particular belief system will see a universality about the people in this story, and their struggles to live within the bounds of their 'institutional' beliefs, and their own personal needs and failings. 'God' being a God who cares/loves but does not necessarily respond at our 'beck and call' to save all our struggles as we might want Him to do. The struggle to belong, be seen, be heard, and be loved for ourselves is handled with great care by Monica Woods in a surprisingly absorbing book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Reader from western Maine on June 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Readers who have followed Monica Wood's fiction already know they can expect first-class work. With Any Bitter Thing the author may be delivering her best novel yet. The main character who looks back on the "jeweled existence" of her earliest years now agonizes over the unanswered questions that cut her childhood short, resulting in a "long sleepwalk through the remains of childhood." Wood writes with authority as she reveals the intricate characters who move this riveting plot. The phrasing throughout Any Bitter Thing is a tribute to the nuances and possibilities of the English language, and Wood's exquisitely tuned wording alone is worth the price of the book.

Signed: A reader from western Maine
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