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The Burgess Boys

The Burgess Boys [Kindle Edition]

Elizabeth Strout
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'As a portrait of a family struggling to balance the accumulated tensions and resentments of a half century with the pull of kinship that never quite overrides them, [The Burgess Boys]feels so truthful it will sometimes make you gasp. As a portrait of a community struggling to come to terms with the consequences of globalisation, decline, and immigration from cultures that don't want to assimilate, it feels fiercely urgent. This is as much a state-of-the-nation novel as one of small-town life. Elizabeth Strout writes with a lyric simplicity that thrusts you into the heart of each character's life and world...[her] empathy ... radiates out to every corner of her world. She shines a light but she doesn't judge. [Strout] has written a novel that makes you feel: this is what it's like to be alive Sunday Times --Sunday Times

Product Description

Two brothers' lives are irrevocably altered when their 19-year-old nephew is embroiled in a scandal of his own making
Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a legal aid attorney who idolises Jim, has always taken it in his stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan - the sibling who stayed behind - urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has landed himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.
* 'Strout animates the ordinary with an astonishing force' The New Yorker
* 'As perfect a novel as you will ever read' Evening Standard on Olive Kitteridge
* 'A novel of shining integrity and humour, about the bravery and hard choices of what is called ordinary life' Alice Munro on Amy & Isabelle

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 458 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400067685
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (9 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A279YNA
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #22,038 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER
This is an immensely touching story about fifty-something siblings and how they negotiate the tensions between them. The story is set both in Shirley Falls, Maine as well as New York. The contrast between how a big city absorbs its immigrants and its effect on small-town America couldn't be more striking. In Shirley Falls, the town is struggling to adjust to its growing Somali community, equally the Somalis themselves are struggling with the idea of assimilation. When an apparent hate-crime occurs, the repercussions for the town and for the Burgess family become unmanageable.

I can't pay Ms Strout more of a compliment when I say we are in Anne Tyler country here. The characterisation throughout this book is exceptional and I feel the people in this story will stay with me for a long time (which with my poor memory is really saying something!). The small-town setting is also reminiscent of Anne Tyler's tales - stories that may appear to be small in scope but which in fact describe a whole world of humanity. This is heartfelt writing of the first order. Elizabeth Strout is a new writer to me and I shall certainly be seeking out her previous work, so fine is this novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hooray - an excellent new author! 23 Oct 2013
By LitCrit
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Unanimously enjoyed by my women's book group (a rare event), and we decided to read Olive Kitteridge next. It also provoked a lengthy discussion as both characters and plot are so well developed - and the context of Maine and New York added to the interest. We'd heard Elizabeth Strout could be 'the next Anne Tyler', but in our view she's even better.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The burgess boys 31 May 2013
By Barry
Format:Kindle Edition
Just finished listening to `The Burgess Boys'. Excellent story of two brother and their sister - I guess calling the book `the Burgess brothers and their sister' was too much hard work.

The book is set in New York and Maine and concerns two brothers living in New York and their sister living in Maine. The brothers are both lawyers - Jim (the elder) a successful corporate lawyer, Bob, the other operating at the other end of the scale. And their sister, Susan (Bob's twin) lives with her son Zach in a small town, Shirley Falls, in Maine, where they all grew up.

Zach gets in trouble and his uncles `ride into town' to sort out the problems. Well, first Bob arrives and then Jim, as the reinforcement. In fact Jim seeks to control the process and directs the actions to be taken by both Bob and Susan.

From early on it is apparent that we are going to learn about the siblings background, their early childhoods, their family upbringing, their rivalries and something that happened when they were quite young. We also see their adult lives, their failed or challenged marriages and how they have managed or struggled to stay in touch as their careers, relocation and their new family lives have separated them.

We have some excellent insights into Jim's life - married to Helen (who is independently wealthy), a very successful lawyer with many of the trappings of success, but struggling with some of the compromise and required socialising with other partners in the law firm. The golf trip is nicely juxtapositioned with the breaking crisis for Zach and his mother. We also see how Jim struggles to readjust when reimmersed in Shirley Falls,.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Aftermath of sibling rivalry 26 Sep 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Burgess children, two boys and a girl, have grown up against the background of the tragic accident that killed their father. Who was responsible? Or does it not matter? Years later we meet the three siblings in their middle age and life is not straightforward for
any of them, not even the highly regarded Jim who supposedly holds the family together.

The novel charters their reaction to a family crisis and by the end the family dynamic is vastly different.

Set in New York and Shirley Falls, Maine the contrast between big city and small town America provides a strong background to modern life.

This is a novel for those who enjoy watching the interactions between siblings, particularly if like me you have 2 boys and a girl, supposedly grown up but who knows....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incarcerated in the wrong life 20 July 2013
By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Brothers Jim and Bob Burgess escape the provincial world of Shirley Falls, Maine for employment as New York lawyers. In contrast to the ambitious high-flyer Jim, Bob is "a nice guy" but portrayed as a bit of a failure (despite being a qualified lawyer), whose borderline alcoholism may have its roots in his early childhood, when he played a part in the tragic event that blighted his family. When the brothers' dysfunctional nephew commits a criminal act against the Somali immigrants who have begun to arouse the suspicious resentment of the conservative white community of Shirley Falls, Jim and Bob are forced to revisit the town, and old memories.

The strongest aspect for me is the core of the book, the portrayal of the complex relationship between the two brothers, and there are some wry, realistic dialogues. On the other hand, my enthusiasm was eroded from the outset by the to my mind unnecessary device of using a prologue to provide a narrator's advance summary of some of the key facts of the book (more than I have above), with the implication that the following chapters are her "story of the Burgess kids", possibly including a degree of speculation since, "Nobody ever knows anyone".

The story tends to lack dramatic tension, since opportunities to develop or explore situations are frequently missed. Yet plots are probably less important to Elizabeth Strout than people's thoughts and behaviour. Although it is probably meant to be a kind of "stream of consciousness", the many long, rambling sentences with banal word repetition grated on me. This may be a cultural thing - a British reader's criticism of a style that is accepted as the norm in modern American writing. Also, the continual switching between at least six points of view make the story often seem unfocused.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
She's a fantastic, intelligent writer. Started with Olive Ketteridge.
Published 3 days ago by penrhynian
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
her books v samey, but also all consuming
Published 1 month ago by Christine Eccles
5.0 out of 5 stars Family skeletons and ties
Beautifully written, with rounded and developing characters about whom we care deeply. Interlinked themes and parallel situations: lost child, estranged partner, dysfunctional... Read more
Published 2 months ago by JonC
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Beautifully written reflection on family bonds and the meaning of success. A story that will stay with me.
Published 2 months ago by Kate Quinn
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent summer read
Gives a feeling that you really know these people and the place they come from. Nothing amazing happens but it is a compulsive read
Published 3 months ago by J. A. Findlay
2.0 out of 5 stars the burgess boys
Published 3 months ago by Mrs C A Morgan
4.0 out of 5 stars Left me wanting more !
Not the first book I've read by this author and certainly not the last. Real credible family conflicts and resolutions. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Maria Douglas
3.0 out of 5 stars The Burgess Boys
Elizabeth Strout won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for her third novel, "Olive Kitteridge". My first reading of Strout was of this, her fourth novel, "The Burgess Boys" (2013). Read more
Published 4 months ago by Robin Friedman
4.0 out of 5 stars Stayed up late
A really gripping and totally believable story which so engaged me I,am writing this at half past one in the morning! Excellent. Simply excellent. Read it.
Published 4 months ago by jackrock
3.0 out of 5 stars lack of story
Although I enjoyed the writing, the book was very long getting tot he trial with not enough else happening. The ending was better when things speeded up a bit.
Published 5 months ago by Rosalind Robinson
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