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Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert
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Stern Men (2000)

by Elizabeth Gilbert

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4411023,785 (3.3)17
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» See also 17 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Still liked this one better that EAT PRAY LOVE because it's very New England and the protagonist finally surprises me in the end. ( )
  Betty.Ann.Beam | Dec 20, 2013 |
having just read gilbert's newest novel, 'the signature of all things', i wanted to go back and re-read this book, her novel that came out in 2000. it's fine. there are some similarities to the newer novel: strong female lead; a family with money, working in/with, & understanding nature. but this earlier works is not a fully realized and kinda bumpy along the way. the setting is so interesting and gilbert has a few characters i really enjoyed. ( )
  DawsonOakes | Dec 5, 2013 |
Good, but a little slow throughout. ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
Enjoyable book about girl growing up on an island off the coast of Maine with her father and an interesting cast of characters. Mother (sort of) came fro a wealthy family who were (or weren't?) trying to get her to leave the island.
I didn't see anything coming and enjoyed it to the very end. ( )
  readingfiend | Sep 3, 2012 |
I really enjoyed this novel. What a rough, funny, quirky character Ruth Thomas was. It was not what I expected at all and very pleasantly surprised me. Highly recommended. Those lobster men were tough! ( )
  erinclark | Jul 6, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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To Sarah Chalfant. For everything.
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Twenty miles out from the coast of Maine, Fort Niles Island and Courne Haven Island face off - two old bastards in a staring contest, each convinced he is the other's only guard. Nothing else is near them. They are among nobody.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 061812733X, Paperback)

John Irving wishes. That he could be as mordantly funny as Elizabeth Gilbert, that is. With the publication of her first novel, Stern Men, Gilbert has been widely compared to New England's unofficial novelist laureate. And the comparison is a natural; this writer gives us a tough, lovable heroine against an iconoclastic, rural backdrop. Ruth Thomas grows up on Fort Niles Island, off the coast of Maine, among lobstermen, lobster boats, and, well, lobsters. There's just not much out there besides ocean. Abandoned by her mother, she lives sometimes with her dad and sometimes with her beautiful neighbor, Mrs. Pommeroy, and the seven idiot Pommeroy boys. Eventually she is plucked from obscurity by the wealthy Ellises--vacationers on Fort Niles for some hundred years--and sent, against her will, to a fancy boarding school in Delaware. (Sorting out her relationship with this highly manipulative family is one of the novel's crooked joys.) Now she has returned, and is casting about for something to do.

What Ruth does (hang around with her eccentric island friends, fall in love, organize the lobstermen) makes for an engaging book that's all the more charming for its rather lumpy, slow-paced plotting. Gilbert delivers a kind of delicious ethnography of lobster-fishing culture, if such a thing is possible, as well as a love story and a bildungsroman. But best of all, she possesses an ear for the ridiculous ways people communicate. One of Mrs. Pommeroy's young sons, "in addition to having the local habit of not pronouncing r at the end of a word--could not say any word that started with r.... What's more, for a long time everyone on Fort Niles Island imitated him. Over the whole spread of the island, you could hear the great strong fishermen complaining that they had to mend their wopes or fix their wigging or buy a new short-wave wadio."

The beauty of Gilbert's book is that she gives us an isolated rural culture, and refuses to settle for finding humor in its backwardness. Instead she gives us a community of uneducated but razor-sharp wits, and produces an impressive comic debut. --Claire Dederer

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:50 -0400)

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Ruth Thomas returns from boarding school to join her family in their Maine island lobster fishing business which is in a age-old fishing feud with other local lobstermen.

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