Select one of the keywords
Abide With Me    by Elizabeth Strout order for
Abide With Me
by Elizabeth Strout
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

I have been waiting somewhat impatiently for Elizabeth Strout's second novel. After Amy and Isabelle, I had a feeling I would love just about anything Strout wrote, and she has proven me right.

Abide with Me is a slice of life set in rural Maine in 1959. The preacher, Tyler Caskey, lost his wife and is faced with the daunting task of raising his children alone. His mother favors the younger toddler and takes that child to live with her, leaving Tyler with Katherine, the problem child. Katherine, reacting to her mother's death, is the focus of much debate and discussion among her teachers and the churchgoers, causing Tyler great distress. Through flashbacks the reader learns more about Tyler's late wife, Lauren, and their somewhat rocky relationship.

Rumors fly about his relationship with his housekeeper, especially after she disappears under suspicious circumstances, and the whole town wants to crucify him. In fact, the townspeople converge to become one character in the novel. This device reminded me of a Tova Mirvis novel called The Ladies' Auxiliary, where the unidentified narrator represented the community who became the judge and jury of a newcomer to town.

This evocative story is character driven rather than plot driven, though Strout is quite skillful at character development. Abide with Me, also the name of a traditional Christian hymn, deals with hypocrisy, grief, humanity, and forgiveness. It is a true gem of a book.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Historical books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews