Amy and Isabelle

Amy and Isabelle

Paperback - 2000 | First Vintage Contemporaries edition
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Before there was Olive Kitteridge , there was Amy and Isabelle ...

"A novel of shining integrity and humor, about the bravery and hard choices of what is called ordinary life."--Alice Munro

Pulitzer Prize winning author Elizabeth Strout's bestselling and award winning debut, Amy and Isabelle --adapted for television by Oprah Winfrey-- evokes a teenager's alienation from her distant mother--and a parent's rage at the discovery of her daughter's sexual secrets.

In most ways, Isabelle and Amy are like any mother and her 16-year-old daughter, a fierce mix of love and loathing exchanged in their every glance. That they eat, sleep, and work side by side in the gossip-ridden mill town of Shirley Falls--a location fans of Strout will recognize from her critically acclaimed novel, The Burgess Boys --only increases the tension. And just when it appears things can't get any worse, Amy's sexuality begins to unfold, causing a vast and icy rift between mother and daughter that will remain unbridgeable unless Isabelle examines her own secretive and shameful past.
A Reader's Guide is included in the paperback edition of this powerful first novel by the author who brought Olive Kitteridge to millions of readers.
Publisher: New York :, Vintage Books,, 2000
Edition: First Vintage Contemporaries edition
Copyright Date: ©1998
ISBN: 9780375705199
Branch Call Number: FIC STR
Characteristics: 303 pages ; 21 cm


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Nov 25, 2020

Really enjoyed this story, set in a small American town. A story of relationships between mothers and daughters, friends, work colleagues. The characters are very descriptive, with a few twists and turns.

Jul 29, 2020

Not the book I wanted to read, as issues with teacher student relationships are personal with me. But with this writer, there’s a reason why she’s won a Pulitzer. It’s this beautiful place she takes you that you just don’t want to leave. It’s where people are weird but interesting, honest in a brutal but beautiful way, annoying if they were your family but well-rounded and lovable in words. It’s her trick: she gets you to want to be a better person, to be nicer and more forgiving to yourself and the annoying people in your life by showing you the good points of being quirky.

This story is just as lovely and delicious as anything the author has ever written. The characters are so compelling in a way that just comes up on you, rather than grab you or get in your face. In fact, that’s the perfection of this writing: it comes into your head like the smell of lavender and before you know it, you’re relaxed and have forgotten why you were so stressed out.

Typical Strout: new chapters equal new main characters, some of which are major, some are minor. All of them interact and create a tapestry, to be cliche, of life and hardship and love and loss in small town New England. In this book, a mousy mom is the main character and just writing that makes it sound dull and not compelling. But that’s the crazy thing: you want her to have success and happiness even if she is a scared, timid little judgmental mouse of a woman. And you have to keep reading until she does.

The daughter, Amy, is one of my favorite characters of everything I’ve read all year: doesn’t say what she thinks, doesn’t think she’s special, doesn’t do what she should, does what she shouldn’t because she just can’t help herself. Hard to remember reading another character who has less control of herself, a character written like a ghost just floating through, who delights you so much. Every time she enters the scene, I got a little happy. She’s the opposite of my loud, talkative family who blurts out every thought they’ve ever had. Maybe that’s why this book is so refreshing: people are quiet new Englanders and it’s something so foreign to me that I didn’t want it to ever end.

Dec 24, 2018

Let me just say first that I love Elizabeth Strout's writing and always look forward for the next book to come out. Reading these reviews I do see that she is not to everyone's taste. If you are someone who really likes characters who are realistic and deeply portrayed you may also like her writing. On the other hand if you are a person who needs everything to end on a perfectly happy note and if you need to always like the characters then maybe this author may not be for you. There is good reason why Elizabeth Strout has gotten awards for her writing, she is by far one of the best writers out there.

This novel is about the relationship between a mother and a teenage daughter, and while each is interesting and imperfect in her own way, this is still a very universal story.

Aug 28, 2018

I thought it was a good read. Kind of depressing in a way but you could real feel what the characters were feeling. When I first started it I wondered if I was going to like it but I read a little further and found I really couldn't put it down. I just had to keep reading to see what would happen next. A really good book.

Oct 31, 2017

Couldn't get into this one for some reason (maybe because it was her first?), but I do like the other books I've read by this author.

Jan 30, 2017

Yes, well-attention to the details of everyday life is succinct. This author's descriptive writing (TMI) would be good paired with a plot and more clarity about what the issues are they've been disagreeing about. There should be more excitement or anything resembling something other than boring subject matter. It may interest someone who's interested in mother daughter relationships or stories about ignorant, slovenly small town busy bodies. The gist of the story once I got through to many boring pages about nothing much is this: the daughter, Amy, who is coming into her hormonal years alternates between admiring and rejecting her mother. The mother, Isabelle feels rejected on many levels. The mother makes plans to send Amy off to a new life which doesn't include her then feels like her daughter is abandoning her. Preparing to depart, speechless Amy felt a swift, unarticulated compassion for her mother. Her mother, full of regrets, perceived Amy's silence as a sign that her daughter was already lost to her. Last page excerpt: '-Amy and Isabelle looked at each other. Amy raised both eyebrows and drew her breath in sharply as she smiled, as though to say, "Okay, let's go" and for a moment they were united, as if they had both agreed to blast off in a rocket and it was countdown time.' Would you agree there is much untapped potential for Elizabeth Strout? I think she needs to write a story with a tangible plot and some excitement paired with her descriptive reflections.

Jan 26, 2016

As a single Mum with a teenage daughter, I felt very strongly for the main characters in this story. Even though it was written quite some time ago, the same mother/daughter issues still remain today. I loved this book with it's wonderful characters.

Aug 02, 2015

Excellent book, holds your attention right to the last line. Loved the previous book by Strout just as much.

Mar 26, 2014

A good character study. At times the story makes you feel uncomfortable, but I think that was the point - it made the characters uncomfortable as well. As always with Elizabeth Strout, very well written and crafted.

Apr 10, 2012

This is a beautiful and wrenching story by a writer who is, in my opinion, greatly underrated. It is a sensitive story, beautifully written, that is both thought-provoking and, at times, disturbing.

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