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South of Superior Hardcover – June 9, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (June 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594487936
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594487934
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #734,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Airgood's charming yet uninspired debut, Madeline Stone takes a job caring for Gladys Hansen, the final companion of the grandfather she never knew, and Gladys's ailing sister in McAllaster, Mich. On the north coast of Lake Superior she finds "a wide, wild quiet, so spacious it seemed endless, and she wondered how it might change a person." Gladys, the younger, feistier of the two sisters, is desperate to hold onto the old ways even as modern life becomes too obvious to ignore. She's the bad cop to her sister's good, and Madeline finds it hard to adjust to her meanness. She also finds it discomfiting when locals comment on her resemblance to ancestors she never knew, and Gladys is less than forthcoming about the Stone family history. To help fill her days, Madeline takes a part-time job at the local pizzeria and becomes close to Paul, the owner, who has financial woes of his own. Over time, Madeline and Gladys make peace, and old secrets are revealed. An abandoned child that Madeline takes in finally allows Airgood to address her prevailing theme—the true nature of family. (June)

About the Author

Ellen Airgood runs a diner in Grand Marais, Michigan. This is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

This book held my interest from beginning to end.
sherole
It sometimes seemed like they were doing things out of nowhere, I guess because I felt like I didn't know or understand many of them all that well.
S. Bruns
The characters seem very real and are very well developed.
Beth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By John Flood on June 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This novel may have "South" in the title, but it is full of the North. An engaging story of struggle and discovery, South of Superior could only take place in Michigan's UP. The quirky characters are interesting and quirky partly because life in the far north on the coast of Lake Superior is hard. The characters are molded by the intense cold and long snowy winters, the emptiness and wildness. Reading South of Superior, you're not surprised that people make the choice to live there, however. The place is full of beauty and wonder. Even the sounds and smells are satisfying. And the people in South of Superior, for all their differences and rivalries, are close, caring and filled with the right priorities. That's what the main character, Madeline Stone, learns when she returns from Chicago to the place of her roots. A charming and satisfying book.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By McGuffy Ann Morris on June 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Sometimes it takes a lifetime to realize where "Home" is, that perhaps "home" was never really a place but rather a part of us.

Though her roots were technically in the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan, Madeline Stone was detached from hers. Having been rejected by her grandfather and abandoned by her mother, she ended up in Chicago, Illinois.

When a lifelong friend of her grandfather needs help, Madeline is drawn back to the place of her birth and that of her family's. Her reservations are many, including her unresolved feelings regarding her grandfather.

The beauty of the land attracts tourists, and the area residents live for them, knowing they rely on that as a necessary source of income, just to survive year to year, as Madeline learns. The roots run deep here, generation to generation.

Loyalty runs deep, as well. Loyalty to the land that supplies them, maintains them, defines them. This loyalty is the driving force of the people in this small town, South of Superior. Through years of relationships, times both good and bad, the people held strong, united by beliefs and values.

In this place of wild beauty, with its rich history rooted in its people, land and lore, Madeline is surprised to find purpose, and peace of both mind and heart. She finds love in its many forms and ages.

South of Superior is strong in character image and voice. While the ways of the people are not necessarily simple, they are genuine and hard-earned. Both characters and setting feel all that a "hometown" should feel.

Ellen Airgood has beautifully captured the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that I know and love. This book will stay with you, as well it should.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Book Sake VINE VOICE on June 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book starts off a little slow, but in the end you will like how the story progresses and the characters end up. It's a story that really opened my eyes to the dynamics of a small town where people don't have much, but they all share what they can. It took a little while for me to get the family tree straight, but it didn't really make a difference because the whole town seems like part of the family eventually. I found that I was really hopeful for these characters as I read, feeling like they deserved all the happiness they could get, especially after enduring some of the hardships they had been through. While the main character Madeline goes to McAllaster to take care of Arbutus, she is also looking for answers about the family that she never knew. After realizing that there is more to the story of her mother and grandfather, she turns to developing herself and comes full circle in terms of what she was looking for in terms of her family.

Reviewed by Gabi for Book Sake.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Bazzett on July 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I LOVED THIS BOOK! Can't tell you how many times I said this out loud to my self, to my wife and anyone else around, while I was reading it. And I'm not really sure how to explain it, because it's such a quiet story; a sadly sweet, wise and wonderful look at all the ups and downs of regular folks, many of them barely scraping by, in a small town at the top of Michigan's Upper Peninsula (UP). And it's told in the most delightfully simple and ordinary language - none of that so-called "muscular prose" often employed by the products of countless MFA programs around the country. Because author Ellen Airgood, who has run a diner in Grand Marais, Michigan, for nearly twenty years, seems to have learned how to write by waitressing! Which, when you stop and think about it, would indeed offer endless opportunities to meet and observe people of all sorts and draw some interesting conclusions. And, since her fictional town of McAllaster is also a tourist town, just SOUTH OF SUPERIOR, i.e. on the stony shores of Lake Superior, the mix of humanity Airgood had to observe and draw from was even further leavened.

And Airgood is a masterful observer of people, and of all their strengths and weaknesses, faults and frailties. I think what makes this book so pleasant to read is the way the author, and her protagonist, 35 year-old Madeline Stone, have learned to focus on the positive things. Airgood seems to have absorbed this attitude very well and employs it to her advantage in the telling of her heroine's tale. Madeline, who was born in McAllaster but abandoned by her teenage unwed mother at a very young age, was raised in Chicago by a loving adoptive single mom, Emmy.
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