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Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout

Amy and Isabelle (1998)

by Elizabeth Strout

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
Once again Strout's writing amazes. This is her debut novel and I wish I had read it when it first came out and had experienced the excitement of discovering such a brilliant voice. I will not summarize here, others have done so quite well. This book stands as an example of such superb writing that almost any page could be selected at random and used as a template for a Master Writing class. No wasted words, no cliches, no "telling", all "showing", fully developed characters, perfectly paced storytelling, coherent story lines...Strout brings it all to the table and so much more! Highly recommended for book clubs and discerning readers! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
Absolutely stunning debut novel by the author of later novels such as "Olive Kittredge" & "My Name is Lucy Barton". This is the story of a single mother of an only daughter, age 16, set in a New England mill town during the 1960s. The reader is privy to the internal musings, hopes, sorrows and memories of both characters. Isabelle suffers watching her daughter come of age emotionally, sexually, and socially. Amy struggles with the developmental task of separating and finding her own identity, separate from her mother.

Strout writes in an emotionally evocative prose. I felt so many deep emotions while reading that it is difficult to enumerate them. The subject of the novel is the primary theme of many novels that I have read, yet Elizabeth Strout's writing makes her novel stand out clearly from the crowd. ( )
  hemlokgang | Jun 27, 2018 |
I loved this mother and daughter tale set in small town America. The observation of their relationship was both understandable and recognisable from someone who has raised three daughters. It features some wonderful portraits of flawed but very likable women.
It is books like this, that make me realise why I read. ( )
  HelenBaker | Jan 4, 2018 |
I have read all of Strout's books and this first novel by her was good but not up to the standards of her later books. The story of a single mother(with a past to hide) raising a teenage daughter in a small New England mill town in the late 60's or early 70's moved very slowly. It deals with issues of sexual exploitation, mother-daughter issues and co-worker relationships. It was written 25 years after the time it explores so the treatment of the workplace etc. reflects those times. The writing was good and the portrayal of the lives of the main characters allowed me to feel the sadness of their lives. However, the story dragged in the middle. Some better editing would have improved the boor, but if you have read all other Elizabeth Strout than by all means read this. Otherwise, start with Olive Kitteridge to see Strout at her best. ( )
  nivramkoorb | Jul 2, 2017 |
[Amy and Isabelle] was a mother/daughter story but also a depiction of the quiet agonies, disappointments and miscommunications of life told not only in the story of Amy and Isabelle but also their acquaintances. ( )
  snash | May 7, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Stroutprimary authorall editionscalculated
Testa, MartinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was terribly hot that summer Mr. Robertson left town, and for a long while the river seemed dead.
Some thought the world might be coming to an end, and even those women not inclined to go that far had to admit it might not have been a good idea sending men into space, that we had no business, really, walking around up there on the moon.
But the heat was relentless and the fans rattling in the windows seemed to be doing nothing at all, and eventually the women ran out of steam, sitting at their big wooden desks with their legs slightly apart, lifting their hair from the back of their necks.
"I can't shut up for five minutes," she said, and Amy, keeping an eye on the clock one day, found this to be true.
Here was something new to fear—her daughter's pity for her ignorance.
What followed was something that Isabelle would speak of only once, years later, when her life had become a very different one. Amy, on the other hand, would later in her adulthood tell a number of people, until she realized finally that it was one story in a million and ultimately didn't matter to anyone.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375705198, Paperback)

"It was terribly hot the summer Mr. Robertson left town." For Amy Goodrow and her mother, Isabelle, the heat of that summer is the least of their problems. Other citizens in the New England mill town of Shirley Falls are bothered by the heat and by "other things too: Further up the river crops weren't right--pole beans were small, shriveled on the vine, carrots stopped growing when they were no bigger than the fingers of a child; and two UFOs had apparently been sighted in the north of the state." But Amy and Isabelle have a more private misery: a seemingly unbridgeable chasm has opened between this once-close mother and daughter and nothing will ever be the same again. For Amy has fallen in love with her high-school math teacher, Mr. Robertson, who has gone way beyond the bounds of propriety by encouraging the crush. When Isabelle finds out, she is horrified to realize that her anger at him is dwarfed by her rage at her own daughter for "enjoying the sexual pleasures of a man while she herself had not."

Mother-daughter novels can, by virtue of their subject matter, often seem claustrophobic, a little overwrought; Elizabeth Strout masterfully avoids this problem by placing Amy and Isabelle in the larger context of the community they inhabit. Though her main focus is on the Goodrow women, Strout often detours into the lives and thoughts of her many secondary characters: Isabelle's coworkers Dottie Brown and Fat Bev; Amy's best friend, Stacy Burrows; Stacy's ex-boyfriend, Paul Bellows; and women from Isabelle's church such as Peg Dunlap and Barbara Rawley. She also introduces a chilling frisson of menace with the unsolved abduction of a 12-year-old girl and a mysterious obscene phone-caller. Like the best of Alice Hoffman, Amy and Isabelle offers up a moving yet resolutely unsentimental portrait of people coming to terms with their lives, finding unsuspected nobility in themselves and unexpected kindness in others along the way. Elizabeth Strout has written a gem of a novel. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:48 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

When Amy Goodrow, a shy high school student, falls in love with her math teacher, the love affair threatens the intimate relationship between Amy and her mother, Isabelle, whose feelings are influenced by the shame of her own past.

» see all 5 descriptions

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