Stern Men

Elizabeth Gilbert, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $24 (304p) ISBN 978-0-395-83622-4
Set on two fictitious islands in northern Maine during the 1970s, this first novel by the author of a sparkling story collection, Pilgrims, begins slowly but warms up with smart, sassy humor. Isolated from the mainland by 20 miles of sea, but separated from each other only by a small channel, the islands of Fort Niles and Courne Haven should be natural allies, sharing the local lobster industry. Instead, the two communities are old enemies, torn apart by centuries of hostile, occasionally violent competition among their territorial lobstermen. Ruth Thomas, daughter of one of Fort Niles's most cutthroat lobstermen, has returned home after four years at a private girls' school, determined both to resist her rich grandfather's plans to send her to college and to find her place among the island's rough-spoken personalities. Both propositions prove more difficult than the headstrong romantic expects. As Gilbert charts Ruth's attempts to decide her future, she introduces a strong dose of lobster lore and a large cast of sly villains and oddball characters. Her prose is as light-hearted and amusing as ever, though some narrative twists lack the emotional resonance of her previous work and several characters seem hemmed in as caricatures. Ruth's meeting with her estranged mother is smoothed over in an anticlimactic fashion, blunting the power of the scene, and her offbeat coming-of-age story gets going only a third of the way through the book. Nonetheless, Gilbert's comic timing grows sharper in the second half, and her gift for lively, authentic dialogue and atmospheric settings continually lights up this entertaining, and surprisingly thought-provoking, romp. 5-city author tour. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000
Release date: 05/01/2000
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Hardcover - 566 pages - 978-0-7862-2988-8
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-618-12733-7
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 304 pages - 978-1-101-01325-0
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-101-01271-0
Paperback - 289 pages - 978-0-14-311469-7
Prebound-Glued - 289 pages - 978-1-4177-1692-0
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-4159-5009-8
Compact Disc - 978-0-14-314334-5
Open Ebook - 978-1-101-01487-5
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-330-35176-8
Open Ebook - 978-1-4088-0867-2
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