Amy and isabelle book summary

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amy and isabelle book summary

Amy and Isabelle — Elizabeth Strout

It was terribly hot that summer Mr. Robertson left town, and for a long while the river seemed dead. Just a dead brown snake of a thing lying flat through the center of town, dirty yellow foam collecting at its edge. Strangers driving by on the turnpike rolled up their windows at the gagging, sulfurous smell and wondered how anyone could live with that kind of stench coming from the river and the mill. But the people who lived in Shirley Falls were used to it, and even in the awful heat it was only noticeable when you first woke up; no, they didn't particularly mind the smell.
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Amy & Isabelle - ABC Promo - 2001


Thank you! A lyrical, closely observant first novel, charting the complex, resilient relationship of a mother and daughter. Isabel Goodrow had settled in the mill town of Shirley Falls when her daughter Amy was an infant, reluctantly admitting to those who asked that both her husband and her parents were dead. Amy has grown up knowing little about her father and, thanks to her closeness to Isabel, also knowing little about the rough give-and-take of life. Amy, at 16, has a poised, delicate beauty, and finds herself—at first with alarm, then with a barely suppressed excitement—responding to the flirtations of a new teacher.

Isabelle comes to Shirley Falls in order to start a new life. How does her desire to re-create herself affect the way she is perceived by other people? How does it influence the way she raises Amy? Why is Amy so attracted to Fat Bev? What does the atmosphere at the mill offer her that she finds neither at home nor at school?

Within each family, as Cather notes, there are ''innumerable shades of sweetness and anguish which make up the pattern of our lives day by day. The novel's main characters are Amy, a shy year-old, chiefly noticeable for her lovely blond hair, and her prim, anxiously single mother, Isabelle, a secretary at the local mill in the small New England town of Shirley Falls. Set sometime in the 's, much of the action occurs during one stultifying summer, when the river looks like ''a dead brown snake,'' the air smells sulfurous and ''carrots stopped growing when they were no bigger than the fingers of a child. This ominous summer finds Amy and Isabelle working in the same office -- an intolerable situation for both since they have, just recently, begun to hate each other. That they also painfully love and need each other is what gives ''Amy and Isabelle'' its absorbing tension.

Start by marking “Amy and Isabelle” as Want to Read: 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.
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Rate this book. Buy This Book. Amy Goodrow, a shy high school student in a small mill town, falls in love with her math teacher, and together they cross the line between understandable fantasy and disturbing reality. With compassion, humor, and striking insight, Amy and Isabelle explores the secrets of sexuality that jeopardize the love between a mother and her daughter. When discovered, this emotional and physical trespass brings disgrace to Amy's mother, Isabelle, and intensifies the shame she feels about her own past. In a fury, she lashes out at her daughter's beauty and then retreats into outraged silence.

It was first published in hardback on December 29, through Random House and is set in the fictional town of Shirley Falls, a location that Strout would revisit in her novel The Burgess Boys. The novel was adapted into a television movie by the same name as part of the "Oprah Winfrey Presents" line of film. Isabelle and her daughter Amy have a complicated relationship akin to the type held by most mothers and daughters, although theirs is occasionally strained by the stress of living in the small mill town of Shirley Falls. Isabelle moved there years ago while Amy was a baby and always kept herself at a distance from the others, never allowing anyone to grow close. She tells both the townspeople and her own daughter that she's a widow, hiding the truth of Amy's parentage - that her daughter was conceived during an illicit encounter with a married friend of her deceased father. During their stay in the town Isabelle ends up falling in love with her married boss Clark, something she keeps as a secret to herself. Now fifteen, Amy has grown to resent her mother's secrecy and isolation, leading to poor communication between the two.


5 thoughts on “AMY AND ISABELLE by Elizabeth Strout | Kirkus Reviews

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  2. Elizabeth Strout's first novel, Amy and Isabelle, is about desires, disappointments, and secrets and features a single mother, Isabelle Goodrow, and her.

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