Amy and Isabelle: A novel (Vintage Contemporaries) (Paperback)
"Amy and Isabelle" is a must read earlier novel by Elizabeth Strout, especially for all those who enjoyed her brilliant psychological insights and skillful writing in "Olive Kitteridge". The author weaves her story around two characters that we learn to care deeply about, Isabelle, a 33 year old single mother, and Amy, her 16 year old daughter. As with Olive Kitteridge, this is an intense study of resilience and the search for happiness in lives stressed by difficult circumstances and the struggle of our characters to understand and communicate. And despite their dysfunction, we continue to cheer our characters on hoping that somehow they will find the insights and support they need. I found the story both engrossing and meaningful, and highly recommend this book.
~Matt— From Matt
In her stunning first novel, Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout 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 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.
About the Author
Elizabeth Strout is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Olive Kitteridge, as well as The Burgess Boys, a New York Times bestseller; Abide with Me, a national bestseller; and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker and O: The Oprah Magazine. Elizabeth Strout lives in New York City.
"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
"Strout's insights into the complex psychology bewteen [mother and daughter] result in a poignant tale about two coming of age." --Time
"Impressive....Strout writes with abundant warmth." --People
"Poignant...sensitively imagined...[Amy and Isabelle] recalls the elgegiac charm of Our Town." --The Christian Science Monitor
"Stunning....Every once in a while, a novel comes along that plunges deep into your psyche, leaving you breathless....This year that novel is Amy and Isabelle." --San Francisco Chronicle
"A novel of shining integrity and humor, about the bravery and hard choices of what is called ordinary life." --Alice Munro
"Excellent....Strout's collective portrait...remains unflaggingly engaging....[W]hat a pleasure to gain entry into the world of this book." --The New Yorker
"Lovely, powerful...a kind if modern 'Rapunzel.'" --Newsweek
"Amy and Isabelle is an impressive debut....with an expansiveness and inventiveness that is the mark of a true storyteller." --The Philadelphia Inquirer