Abide With Me
Random House, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
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Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch
have been waiting somewhat impatiently for Elizabeth Strout's second novel. After
Amy and Isabelle
, I had a feeling I would love just about anything Strout wrote, and she has proven me right.
bide with Me
is a slice of life set in rural Maine in 1959. The preacher, Tyler Caskey, lost his wife and is faced with the daunting task of raising his children alone. His mother favors the younger toddler and takes that child to live with her, leaving Tyler with Katherine, the
child. Katherine, reacting to her mother's death, is the focus of much debate and discussion among her teachers and the churchgoers, causing Tyler great distress. Through flashbacks the reader learns more about Tyler's late wife, Lauren, and their somewhat rocky relationship.
umors fly about his relationship with his housekeeper, especially after she disappears under suspicious circumstances, and the whole town wants to crucify him. In fact, the townspeople converge to become one character in the novel. This device reminded me of a Tova Mirvis novel called
The Ladies' Auxiliary
, where the unidentified narrator represented the community who became the judge and jury of a newcomer to town.
his evocative story is character driven rather than plot driven, though Strout is quite skillful at character development.
Abide with Me
, also the name of a traditional Christian hymn, deals with hypocrisy, grief, humanity, and forgiveness. It is a true gem of a book.
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