Abide with Me
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In her luminous and long-awaited novel, bestselling author Elizabeth Strout welcomes readers back to the archetypal, lovely landscape of northern New England, where the events of her first novel, Amy and Isabelle, unfolded. In the late 1950s, in the small town of West Annett, Maine, a minister struggles to regain his calling, his family, and his happiness in the wake of profound loss. At the same time, the community he has served so charismatically must come to terms with its own strengths and failings--faith and hypocrisy, loyalty and abandonment--when a dark secret is revealed.
Tyler Caskey has come to love West Annett, "just up the road" from where he was born. The short, brilliant summers and the sharp, piercing winters fill him with awe--as does his congregation, full of good people who seek his guidance and listen earnestly as he preaches. But after suffering a terrible loss, Tyler finds it hard to return to himself as he once was. He hasn't had The Feeling--that God is all around him, in the beauty of the world--for quite some time. He struggles to find the right words in his sermons and in his conversations with those facing crises of their own, and to bring his five-year-old daughter, Katherine, out of the silence she has observed in the wake of the family's tragedy.
A congregation that had once been patient and kind during Tyler's grief now questions his leadership and propriety. In the kitchens, classrooms, offices, and stores of the village, anger and gossip have started to swirl. And in Tyler's darkest hour, a startling discovery will test his congregation's humanity--and his own will to endure the kinds of trials that sooner or later test us all.
In prose incandescent and artful, Elizabeth Strout draws readers into the details of ordinary life in a way that makes it extraordinary. All is considered--life, love, God, and community--within these pages, and all is made new by this writer's boundless compassion and graceful prose.
Praise for Abide with Me
"Strout's greatly anticipated second novel . . . is an answered prayer."--Vanity Fair
"Superb . . . a shimmering tale of loss, faith, and human fallibility . . . You feel yourself in the hands of a master storyteller."--O: The Oprah Magazine
"Deeply moving . . . In one beautiful page after another, Strout captures the mysterious combinations of hope and sorrow. She sees all these wounded people with heartbreaking clarity, but she has managed to write a story that cradles them in understanding and that, somehow, seems like a foretaste of salvation."--The Washington Post
"This lovely second novel confirms Strout as the possessor of an irresistibly companionable, peculiarly American voice: folksy, poetic, but always as precise as a shadow on a brilliant winter day."--The Atlantic Monthly
"Graceful and moving . . . The pacing of Strout's deeply felt fiction about the distance between parents and children gives her work an addictive quality."--People (four stars)
'As perfect a novel as you will ever read ... So astonishingly good that I shall be reading it once a year for the foreseeable future and very probably for the rest of my life' Evening Standard on Olive Kitteridge 'Strout animates the ordinary with astonishing force' The New Yorker on Olive Kitteridge 'Masterfully wrought' Vanity Fair on Olive Kitteridge 'Strout has a wonderful ability to turn a phrase...[these] pages hold what life puts in: experience, joy, grief, and the sometimes-painful journey to love' Observer on Olive Kitteridge 'I am deeply impressed. Writing of this quality comes from a commitment to listening, from a perfect attunement to the human condition, from an attention to reality so exact that it goes beyond a skill and becomes a virtue. I have never read her before and I knew within a few sentences that here was an artist to value and respect' -- Hillary Mantel on My Name is Lucy Barton 'Strout's best novel yet' -- Ann Pachett on My Name is Lucy Barton 'An exquisite novel... in its careful words and vibrating silences, My Name Is Lucy Barton offers us a rare wealth of emotion, from darkest suffering to - 'I was so happy. Oh, I was happy' - simple joy' Claire Messud, New York Times Book Review on My Name is Lucy Barton 'So good I got goosebumps... a masterly novel of family ties by one of America's finest writers' Sunday Times on My Name is Lucy Barton 'My Name is Lucy Barton confirms Strout as a powerful storyteller immersed in the nuances of human relationships... Deeply affecting novel...visceral and heartbreaking...If she hadn't already won the Pulitzer for Olive Kitteridge this new novel would surely be a contender' Observer on My Name is Lucy Barton 'Hypnotic...yielding a glut of profoundly human truths to do with flight, memory and longing' Mail on Sunday on My Name is Lucy Barton 'This is a book you'll want to return to again and again and again' Irish Independent on My Name is Lucy Barton 'Slim and spectacular...My Name Is Lucy Barton is smart and cagey in every way. It is both a book of withholdings and a book of great openness and wisdom. It starts with the clean, solid structure and narrative distance of a fairy tale yet becomes more intimate and improvisational, coming close at times to the rawness of autofiction by writers such as Karl Ove Knausgaard and Rachel Cusk. Strout is playing with form here, with ways to get at a story, yet nothing is tentative or haphazard. She is in supreme and magnificent command of this novel at all times...' Washington Post on My Name is Lucy Barton 'My Name Is Lucy Barton is a short novel about love, particularly the complicated love between mothers and daughters... It evokes these connections in a style so spare, so pure and so profound the book almost seems to be a kind of scripture or sutra, if a very down-to-earth and unpretentious one' Newsday on My Name is Lucy Barton 'Her concise writing is a masterclass in deceptive simplicity...Strout writes with an exacting rhythm, with each word and clause perfectly placed and weighted and each sentence as clear and bracing as grapefruit. It's a small masterpiece' Daily Mail on My Name is Lucy Barton 'This short, simple, quiet novel wriggles its way right into your heart and stays there' Red on My Name is Lucy Barton 'A beautifully taut novel' Guardian on My Name is Lucy Barton 'Agleam with extraordinary psychological insights...delicate, tender but ruthless reveries' Sunday Express on My Name is Lucy Barton 'An eerie, compelling novel, its deceptively simple language is a 'slight rush of words' which hold much more than they seem capable of containing...This novel is about the need to create a story we can live with when the real story cannot be told...' Financial Times on My Name is Lucy Barton 'Strout uses a different voice herself in this novel: a spare simple one, elegiac in tone that sometimes brings to mind Joan Didion's' The Tablet on My Name is Lucy Barton 'An exquisitely written story...a brutally honest, absorbing and emotive read' Catholic Universe on My Name is Lucy Barton 'This is a glorious novel, deft, tender and true. Read it' Sunday Telegraph on My Name is Lucy Barton 'Honest, intimate and ultimately unforgettable' Stylist on My Name is Lucy Barton 'Strout's prose propels the story forward with moments of startlingly poetic clarity.' The New Yorker on The Burgess Boys 'One of those rare, invigorating books that take an apparently familiar world and peer into it with ruthless intimacy, revealing a strange and startling place.' The New York Times Book Review on Amy & Isabelle 'A novel of shining integrity and humour' -- Alice Munro on Amy and Isabelle
Elizabeth Strout's tenure as a lawyer (six months) was slightly longer than her career as a stand-up comedian (one night). She has also worked as a bartender, waitress and piano player at bars across the USA. She now teaches literature in New York, where she lives with her husband and daughter.