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The Burgess Boys: A Novel Paperback – April 8, 2014
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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“Strout’s prose propels the story forward with moments of startlingly poetic clarity.”—The New Yorker
“Elizabeth Strout’s first two books, Abide with Me and Amy and Isabelle, were highly thought of, and her third, Olive Kitteridge, won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. But The Burgess Boys, her most recent novel, is her best yet.”—The Boston Globe
“Strout’s greatest gift as a writer, outside a diamond-sharp precision that packs 320 fast-paced pages full of insight, is her ability to let the reader in on all the rancor of her characters without making any of them truly detestable. . . . Strout creates a portrait of an American community in turmoil that’s as ambitious as Philip Roth’s American Pastoral but more intimate in tone.”—Time
“[Strout’s] extraordinary narrative gifts are evident again. . . . At times [The Burgess Boys is] almost effortlessly fluid, with superbly rendered dialogue, sudden and unexpected bolts of humor and . . . startling riffs of gripping emotion.”—Associated Press
“[Strout] is at her masterful best when conjuring the two Burgess boys. . . . Scenes between them ring so true.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“No one should be surprised by the poignancy and emotional vigor of Elizabeth Strout’s new novel. But the broad social and political range of The Burgess Boys shows just how impressively this extraordinary writer continues to develop.”—The Washington Post
“What truly makes Strout exceptional—and her latest supple and penetrating novel so profoundly affecting—is the perfect balance she achieves between the tides of story and depths of feeling. . . . Every element in Strout’s graceful, many-faceted novel is keenly observed, lustrously imagined and trenchantly interpreted.”—Chicago Tribune
“Strout deftly exposes the tensions that fester among families. But she also takes a broader view, probing cultural divides. . . . Illustrating the power of roots, Strout assures us we can go home again—though we may not want to.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Reading an Elizabeth Strout novel is like peering into your neighbor’s windows. . . . There is a nuanced tension in the novel, evoked by beautiful and detailed writing. Strout’s manifestations of envy, pride, guilt, selflessness, bigotry and love are subtle and spot-on.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Strout conveys what it feels like to be an outsider very well, whether she’s delving into the quiet inner lives of Somalis in Shirley Falls or showing how the Burgess kids got so alienated from one another. But the details are so keenly observed, you can connect with the characters despite their apparent isolation. . . . [A] gracefully written novel. [Grade:] A.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Wincingly funny, moving, wise.”—Good Housekeeping
“With her signature lack of sentimentality, a boatload of clear-eyed compassion and a penetrating prose style that makes the novel riveting, Strout tells the story of one Maine family, transformed. Again and again, she identifies precisely the most complex of filial emotions while illuminating our relationships to the larger families we all belong to: a region, a city, America and the world.”—More
“The Burgess Boys returns to coastal Maine [with] a grand unifying plot, all twists and damage and dark, morally complex revelations. . . . The grand scale suits Strout, who now adds impresario storytelling at book length to the Down East gift for plainspoken wisdom.”—Town & Country
From the Hardcover edition.
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.
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Most of this story is about Jim and Bob, both lawyers in New York Vity. Jim a high powered lawyer with a very wealthy wife, Bob working for Legal Aid, divorced and a loner. Susan lives in Shirley Falks and works in an eyeglass shop. Susan is divorced and her son. Zachary has committed a strange crime that brings Jim and Bob home to assist. Shirley Falls has become a home to a new Somali community, and into,era he has become a problem in the town. This is a story of our times.
Elizabeth Strout is such an excellent writer. Each book tells its own story, but also brings other characters into the fore. We meet the family in depth, and delve into their lives, their past and present, their behaviors, and their actions. Mistakes are made, people don't real,y talk to each other. Love is there, but for some reason, it is difficult to explore. You will become engrossed with the book, and the characters within. We find Shirley Falls and New York City in more depth, and come to understand the areas where Bob and Jim lived. Again, this is a story of our time.
Recommended. prisrob 07-17-17
This book reminds us of that again and again, through the tale of the Burgess family, Jim Burgess, his younger brother Bob, and Bob's twin sister Susan. Jim is a successful attorney at a prestigious law firm in Manhattan, who had his 15 minutes of fame successfully defending Wally Packer, a popular singer. Jim is much admired by almost everyone, but especially by his brother Bob. Bob Burgess has allowed himself to be defined by an event which occurred when he was a very young boy, and still punishes himself for that event by allowing everyone around him to depreciate him (his brother Jim usually refers to him as "slob dog"). Their sister Susan still lives in Shirley Falls, Maine, a town that is struggling to come to grips with an influx of Somali families who have fled the carnage in Somalia, only to be confronted by a culture and people they don't understand or approve of, and they in turn are disrespected by the mostly conservative towns people or used by the town liberals to further a political cause. Susan is a bitter and unhappy woman, treated harshly by her mother, and becoming much like her mother as the years pass.
The Burgess family's lives and the town of Shirley Falls get shaken like dice in a cup when Susan's son, Zachary, throws a frozen pig's head into the local mosque, creating a firestorm and reordering the lives of Zach and everyone associated with him.
I enjoyed this book, which is both a family saga and a gentle morality tale. If I could have done so, I would have given it 4.5 stars, but that is impossible and I was unwilling to downgrade it to a 4. I look forward to reading more books by Elizabeth Strout.