Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Amy and Isabelle, by Elizabeth Strout

Title: Amy and Isabelle
Author: Elizabeth Strout
Format: Paperback
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Fiction
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Not too sure about this one. Something just didnt click when I was reading it. Don't get me wrong, it was written beautifully, in its own way. I really liked how when the reader is being told what a character's thought process is, they are also often told their physical actions simultaneously in brackets. And I kinda like that as the reader you get to see that everyone in the little town of Shirley Falls has lots of secrets, small and huge alike, so that you end up seeing not just Amy and Isabelle's story develop, but everyone else's too. 

And I really liked Amy's friend Stacy, because she is such a stereotypically bad teenager; she swears like a trooper, hates everyone and everything, smokes, and gets pregnant and doesn't notice, all whilst managing to be really popular.  So, erm, those were my good bits of the book. 

The plot was kinda unusual, and the ending didn't sit well with me, especially how it all worked out for Amy. Plus, the story starts in the middle. Lots of books do this, but I didn't like how this one started in the middle. 

So at the start, which is actually the middle, Isabelle is working in an office at a mill, where her daughter Amy is also working for a summer job. Fat Bev is also there, who is the most surreal character in this whole book, possibly because she talks about her bowel movements far too often, in too much detail. It soon transpires that Amy and Isabelle Loathe each other, with capital letter and all, and that it is actually the middle of the story. Its also the 1960s, as a conversation about men on the moon indicates. Oh, and Amy's buddy Stacy is preggers. 

And then there is this whole "it all began when" part, where earlier in the year Amy meets her substitute maths teacher and embarks on a really inappropriate and increasingly sexual affair with him.  This leads to them being caught, obviously, and us eventually reaching where the story started, i.e, the middle, and then after this point eventually when all of the secret secrets come out and there are so many predictable parallels between the different generations and stuff like that, and it gets a bit sappy, where lots of people cry at once. And then its hard to tell if the ending is supposed to be happy or sad, or resolved or unresolved or WHAT? I like to know what to feel, and who I like at the end of the book, and I didn't (other than Stacy, who wasn't even a main character), so its bugging me!!!! 
Artsy-type writing, lots of description, but I didn't like the story or the characters that much- not even enough to take sides. 4 Stars


  1. Wow, I liked Olive Kitteridge. Although, it too had its problems. This book doesn't sound very promising. Your review is not making me excited to read it. Great review and it's always great to be able to remove a book from your TBR list.

    1. Yeah, my review does sound a bit harsh, and I think it was more that it was just not my cup of tea, rather than not being a good book. I did keep changing my mind on the rating too, and it moved between a 3.5 and 6 while I was writing the review.
      Did you review Olive Kitteridge? I'd love to read your full review on that!?


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