- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (April 25, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345477685
- ISBN-13: 978-0345477682
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #832,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Any Bitter Thing: A Novel Paperback – April 25, 2006
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Being a Catholic myself, I am well versed with church dogma and spent many years in the company of priests and nuns. This was a first time read for me by this author, so I had none of her other works to use as a comparison.
Although the beginning drew me in, for some reason the novel did not keep riveted.
I am not sure why. Perhaps it was the author's style of writing, it just seemed to me, that it took a long time to tell a simple story.
This is a story filled with love, loss, forgiveness and the tenacity of family.
Although the author spent lots of time developing Lizzie's character, I wish she had spent more time developing Father Mike's and Vivienne's. I wanted more about them and never really got it. I had questions for which I never got answers; what happens to Lizzie's and Father Mike's relationship? Andrea Harmon? Why no scene between Father Mike and Vivienne?...and a few others.
I appreciated the plot twists in the later chapters, I didn't see all of them coming. This was an unexpected treat which woke me up long enough to finish the story.
The story had lots of potential but I think the way it was written it never quite reached it.
All in all, a sad tale with no real winners. All the characters were left hurt and broken.
Wood tells the story by alternating point of views between Lizzy and Father Mike. She takes readers into a maelstrom of right and wrong as the story unfolds. Father Mike is as devoted to his church as any priest. Yet he is tempted. This dilemma coupled with Lizzy's recollections of her childhood build into a gripping story.
With a cast of interesting characters, each one developed with the care of a precise writer, Wood crafts a story with masterful prose. The writing never falters as in this passage, "I spent seven years as Father Mike's child, a time delicate and fossilized, sweet as a paw print encased in amber, telling as a line on a cave wall."
This book is worth reading not just for the superb prose and story telling, but because Wood forces readers to examine their understanding of right and wrong. A great novel demands your attention long after you have finished it. That is exactly what Wood has accomplished in this fine novel.
It's not easy to say what this novel is about: abuse scandals within the Catholic church, the ubiquity of loneliness, the hard work that a marriage demands, the punishments of secrecy, the joys and terrors of love?
Wood holds all these themes together in the interwoven voices and characters of Lizzy, a young woman recovering from a near fatal hit-and-run accident, and Father Mike, the Catholic priest and uncle who raised her when her parents died.
The story is one that readers will both want to rush through and savor, lingering over lovely phrasings such as "Telling felt like resting" or "Bad news usually arrives ugly."
A thoroughly satisfying read.