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Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert
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Stern Men (2000)

by Elizabeth Gilbert

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I have not read "Eat, Pray, Love" so I had no expectations when I picked up this book. I was hooked immediately. It was Elizabeth Gilbert's quirky sense of humor that captivated me. I found the che characters and dialogue fresh and entrusting and many passages made me laugh out loud. It's been a while since I've enjoyed a book this much. All I heard about "Eat, Pray, Love" was that the "Pray" section was very slow. I now know that there doesn't have to be a lot of action for Gilbert to keep me engaged.
( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
Posto me je njena prva knjiga razocarala sa podozrenjem se citala ovu ali je na kraju prica bila dobra i citljiva.Govori se o dva ostrva izmedju kojih decenijama vlada sukob oko prava na izlov jastoga,o djevojci Rut koja je uspjela da pomiri sve i osnuje novu dinastiju. ( )
  ceca78 | Apr 10, 2016 |
My daughter, Chris, had suggested that I read Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of all Things as my next book. My other daughter said that since we are headed to Maine this weekend, I should read Gilbert's Stern Men instead, as it is very Maine. I'm glad I decided to go with that. I really enjoyed it. Although the stories are very different, I thought it had the "feel" of Howard Norman's The Bird Artist, most likely because of the islands and the lobstermen.

It is the story of two islands off the coast of Maine, where the lobstermen have been feuding for decades. Every so often there is a lobster war, and then things settle down for a while, but the hatred lingers on. Ruth Thomas has grown up on one of these islands and is at the center of the story. She is a strong character, and I liked her. While it is her coming of age story, it is also the story of the lobstermen and their fight to make ends meet. The men on the islands remind me of some of the fishermen we have met on our journeys up to Maine. The story is full of humor and some great characters.

If you are expecting Eat, Pray, Love you won't find it here. (I haven't actually read that one and have no desire to read it, but know enough to know this one isn't it).

Read Sept 2014 ( )
  NanaCC | Jul 26, 2015 |
The story of Ruth's unusual family unfolds slowly in this novel: her father is a native islander lobsterman, her mother is an adopted member of a wealthy family but really a servant who has moved to New Hampshire. Ruth has obeyed the demands of everyone--her father, his friends, the wealthy patriarch, and his factotem--but the year she is 18 she comes home from boarding school with a mind of her own. Throughout I just wished she would stand up for herself, and when one of the inevitabilities happened by the end of the book I felt myself breathe a sigh of recognition. ( )
  sleahey | Apr 18, 2015 |
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 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:02 -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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