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The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
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The Burgess Boys (2013)

by Elizabeth Strout

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1,0311468,214 (3.77)159

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Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
Elizabeth Strout is so good, and her characters and settings so real. She's one of the few writers around who can make you feel tender about the poor, clumsy and self-destructive human race. ( )
  jimnicol | Sep 26, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Although the writing was strong, I found it difficult to empathize with the characters. I really needed to hear Zachary's point of view early on in the story. ( )
  nancyjune | Sep 8, 2014 |
Without anything amounting to scholarly focus I have wondered whether authors can successfully depict the interior lives of characters of the opposite sex. It has seemed to me that authors are successful depicting characters of the opposite sex when they derive their depictions from what they have observed, and they fail at it when they try to infer intent and the workings of the mind. In The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout, a book very strong in unveiling character, the author gives us one brother almost entirely from the outside and another brother fairly often from the inside. Both are pretty much believable, but the one captured from the outside cannot be denied whereas the one whose intent seems to be limned sometimes seems slightly effeminate. Now he is a beautiful person, he fits the drama of the story well, and he is drawn in full detail, but the feeling remains that he was written by a woman.

I believe that male authors, mutatis mutandis, have the same problem, and I don't trust them when they try to get inside a woman's head.

I've read three important contemporary novels in the past couple of weeks, and this is the one that has got my attention. I will be looking at these people, as reflections on my own character, for some time to come. What are the doubts we have about how we have lived our lives? Where have our lives come from? How much are we involved with our families? Do our lives come from them? Do we have a duty to them regardless of our relations with them?... The novel by capturing mostly pretty much real and fascinating people brings these questions to life. ( )
1 vote Mr.Durick | Sep 7, 2014 |
not sure at first if I would like this, especially after Olive K., but the characters and the writing grew on me. In the end, as with O.K., the finely drawn characters, seen from differing perspectives was very interesting. ( )
  Lisa02476 | Aug 23, 2014 |
I tried many times to get into this book, but was unsuccessful. It was very slow and it was difficult keep with the plot. I finally, after 4 months of trying, gave up. ( )
1 vote breakingbooks | Aug 13, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Dedication
To my husband

Jim Tierney
First words
My mother and I talked a lot about the Burgess Family. "The Burgess kids," she called them.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Blurbers
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Book description
Haunted by a freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possible could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a legal aid attorney who idolises Jim, has always taken it in his stride.

But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan - the sibling who stayed behind - urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has landed himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.
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Catalyzed by a nephew's thoughtless prank, a pair of brothers confront painful psychological issues surrounding the freak accident that killed their father when they were boys, a loss linked to a heartbreaking deception that shaped their personal and professional lives.… (more)

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