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The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (June 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743271335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743271332
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,358,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Doyon, the author of series books for teens, peoples her adult debut, a sprawling, bustling chronicle of smalltown life, with a passel of intriguing characters, first among them the sad-sack town itself. Schoolmarm Delia Pratt calls her charges "Cedar Hellions" and bums cigs from the older girls at lunch; the nine Pinkham tomboys are depraved viragos who bully their young brother, Francis. Valiantly keeping up standards at the ramshackle library is Kitty Higgens, who receives a godsend in the form of an assistant, Robert J. Cutler. This model youth and citizen—the anomalous paragon of the title—wins a pivotal contest called the Lawn Rodeo by forming a star pattern instead of the required straight line mowed by rightful winner Francis. Years later, Robert—who remained loyal to Cedar Hole despite opportunities elsewhere—dies in a freak accident, leaving his wife embittered by his obsession with town matters at the expense of family, and Francis with an open field to venture into something extraordinary. Doyon writes pungently, with a wry slant, and pulls no punches regarding gossip, jealousy, schadenfreude and the myriad human foibles that are the backbone of farce, so the warm feeling when we close the book—with virtue rewarded and fences mended—feels earned.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

An author and ghostwriter of novels for teenagers makes her well-received adult fiction debut with an immensely entertaining, superbly written tale that is difficult to categorize. The characters are entirely realistic, and the small town of Cedar Hole is rendered well enough to be a character in its own right. Many critics compare Doyon’s writing style to that of John Irving or Richard Russo. The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole is never unbelievable, although one critic thought that its ending was predictable.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Customer Reviews

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Find out which one it is in this superbly written and quietly rousing debut saga.
Bookreporter
I can honestly say that I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a well written and well developed story.
W. Frikken
I found myself being totally absorbed by the characters but not liking any of them.
Jeanne M. Brennan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Lux on November 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole is unlike any other novel on the bookshelves today, a fact to be celebrated. Some elements remind me of Dunn's Geek Love (the sisters who make their brother fear for his life with their abuse and roughhousing), and others remind me of Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany (the struggling young hero, the portrait of a small town, the epic nature of the story). Doyon has created a masterpiece with her portrait of the small town of Cedar Hole, its eccentric residents, and the struggles of two young men growing up there.

The plot centers on the intertwined lives of two heroes of Cedar Hole-superciliously perfect Robert, who gives to his family and his community endlessly, and the working man's hero Spud/Francis, who is more human due to his imperfections. The book follows them from grade school through adulthood, complete with a loveable and slightly obsessive town librarian, a drinking club in which the members could only raise their glass with their left hands (or face a nickel fine), Spud's nine sisters who out-do him in masculine activities every time, and an extraordinary entrepreneurship opportunity presented to Spud and his family. Is Robert or Spud the Greatest Man in Cedar Hole? Doyon will take the reader on a terrific journey to determine the answer to that question.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on August 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"... in Cedar Hole, when a person rose above the lot, everyone else looked around and thought they were sinking. Balance had to be restored, and if fate didn't see to it, the citizens of Cedar Hole took it upon themselves to make sure that victory and defeat were served up in equal portions."

Why on Earth would anyone want to go to Cedar Hole? That may sound like a curious question, but it took a while for the local railroad to find out that not many folks actually did. After several years of declining ridership, they decided to cut the route short, making fashionable Palmdale the new end of the line, one short stop before Cedar Hole and many miles beyond in prestige. Young Francis Pinkham spent a lifetime waiting for the train to return, watching the line with eager anticipation because, just as soon as it pulled in again, he planned to be on it. Meanwhile, he grew into a teenager, married, fathered a child, and generally contented himself making a living in this small town, waiting for the train to come back and take him places.

One of Pinkham's schoolmates, Robert J. Cutler, was forever upstaging Francis --- and everyone else in town, for that matter. A young man with too much talent and an eye toward community service, Cutler never planned to leave Cedar Hole. After his father passed on, he promised his mother that he would take care of her, and he was a man of his word. Then, when she died, he still stayed on in Cedar Hole. Many wondered why. Robert was just too good for the likes of the Hole. Everyone thought so --- except, of course, Francis Pinkham. He sure didn't see it that way.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on September 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is one of those books you will either enjoy, if you are of one mind set, or you won't if you are of another. I personally enjoyed this one and thought it was well done. Things are not always as they seem is the overall message sent by this one and I thought the author, who is a natural story teller, did a fine job in this area. Her character developement was good, her discription of small town America hit the nail on the head. While I certainly would not call this one a page turner, it did hold my interest and I did enjoy it. Do recommend this one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne M. Brennan on April 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I love stories about small town life, and this one was beautifully written with a great premise--Who really is the greatest man in Cedar Hole? Unfortunately, I wasn't so sure at the end. While Robert went to extremes, at least he fought for things. The other characters seemed so self destructive. I found myself being totally absorbed by the characters but not liking any of them. Francis proved his mettle at the end, but I found his redemption was sort of a no brainer. I thought the ending was a let down. Just like Empire Falls, I felt like giving all the characters a good swift kick in the ass.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W. Frikken on February 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
My wife handed me this book after she finished reading this and declared that I must read it myself. I quickly read the back cover and figured I'd give it a shot.

I have to say, I was very pleasently surprised at how good this was. I found myself not wanting to put it down. I felt drawn to each character and really enjoyed it. This book provided some fun conversation for my wife and I.

I have recommended this novel to my friends, and those who have read it for themselves have come back with very positive reviews. I can honestly say that I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a well written and well developed story. Its characters are finely depicted, and I loved how I could identify someone I know to each character.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The jacket flap claims that The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole has "all the makings of an American literary classic." While I think this is a bit of an overstatement, Stephanie Doyon's debut adult novel marks her as an author who may someday deserve to be ranked among the "classics." Her work is funny, touching and more thought-provoking than many of its ilk in the small-town-saga genre; the ending may leave the heart with that lovely warm-and-fuzzy feeling, but it also leaves the mind satisfied, with plenty left to digest after the book is put back on the shelf.

Doyon has been compared to John Irving, and that seems largely accurate, with one notable exception - while both deal with melancholy and sometimes weighty themes, Doyon's work seems to me to come off as considerably less depressing than Irving's. However, her writing is not without its flaws. She tends to be a bit too adjective-happy, especially in the first half of the book. Her metaphors often feel like a stretch, and overly-grandiose visual descriptions lend the town and the characters a surreal, mythical quality that is not unappealing in and of itself, but becomes so because it vanishes when the reader is brought in closer. The characters, while largely delightful, are sometimes difficult to relate to (especially Robert Cutler, in whom complete lack of personal motivation is juxtaposed with boundless enthusiasm for improving Cedar Hole in a way that feels off-balance), and some could be better-developed. But on the whole, this book is an enjoyable read that is well worth spending some time on.
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