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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful first novel about love, life, and... lobster fishing!
Don't be put off by the fact that this book is about lobster fishing. No, seriously, don't! This is a wonderful novel about love, work and growing up.

Yes, I did learn more about lobsters than I could ever have imagined - but as part of the most delightful romp of a plot. It's an unusual but very readable story about feuding Maine islanders, focusing on the...
Published on 24 Mar 2009 by Gabrielle O

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3.0 out of 5 stars Stern Men
I enjoy reading Elizabeth Gilbert's books, and was looking forward to starting this one, but unfortunately this edition, (Bloomsbury), has really small lettering and so I haven't read it. (Pilgrims and The Last American Man are printed with bigger lettering in this same editorial).
Published 1 month ago by Ivy


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful first novel about love, life, and... lobster fishing!, 24 Mar 2009
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This review is from: Stern Men (Paperback)
Don't be put off by the fact that this book is about lobster fishing. No, seriously, don't! This is a wonderful novel about love, work and growing up.

Yes, I did learn more about lobsters than I could ever have imagined - but as part of the most delightful romp of a plot. It's an unusual but very readable story about feuding Maine islanders, focusing on the story of a very engaging protagonist, eighteen-year old Ruth Thomas, a headstrong young woman who has just returned from boarding school on the mainland.

Ruth is independent, blunt, straight-spoken and often hilariously direct. For all her wit and sarcasm, she's a very appealing character with fiercely-felt emotions and an interesting family background to deal with - as well as a struggle to decide what she should do with her future and of course a love interest...

I thought this was such a delightful, beautifully written book - funny, moving and fascinating - I just couldn't put it down. I was very glad that I hadn't gone with my initial impulse ('ugh, a book about lobsters and fishing') and put it back on the shelf. Instead, I'm definitely going to be looking out for Elizabeth Gilbert's other novels. A brilliant read: well-written, funny and moving.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stern Men, 12 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Stern Men (Paperback)
I bought this book because I so loved Eat Pray Love, also written by Elizabeth Gilbert. They are, of course, completely different genres, one being an autobiography, and the other being a work of fiction. But I thought Gilbert's narrative voice in Eat Pray Love was so stunningly beautiful that I hoped it would be the same in Stern Men.

I was not disappointed. This is a unique story of two rivalling islands in the battlefield that is lobster fishing. It is about the small communities and the strange personalities born out of the isolation, the hardship, the weather and, of course, the lobster.

And in the midst of this is Ruth Thomas, the main character in the shape of an 18 year old girl. She virtually jumps off the page, caustic and cocky at the same time as being vulnerable and lost, which immediately endeared her to me. Her delightfully dirty language and her complete disregard for the norms of island society make her the perfect heroine - someone with gumption and edge and grit.

As we follow her through her young adulthood we meet her family and friends. All are characters perfectly drawn with such subtlety and clarity that each is an absolute pleasure to get to know. The stern men of the title are the hardened island residents, like Ruth's emotionally inadequate father, Stan Thomas, his hot-tempered friend Angus Addams, the lobstering demi-god Babe Wishnell, the out-of-town granite magnate Mr. Ellis, drunk and passionate Ira Pommeroy, creepy Cal Cooley. To complete the picture, all these men are surrounded by women, strong and beautiful in every way their men are not. And all the way through you can follow a red tread of delightfully outrageous inbreeding.

We watch as Ruth tries to find herself as an adult, and as she battles against the sinister hold the Ellis family has over her own.

This book is hilarious, charming, sweet and touching. It is thorough and slow, in all the good ways.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A spot-on, Down East yarn., 25 Sep 2003
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Stern Men (Paperback)
Gilbert deftly captures Maine's wry, Down East humor and its flat, deadpan delivery in this seriocomic tale of lobstering and survival on twin islands, twenty miles off the Maine coast. Independent, cussed, and fiercely loyal to their own islands, the inhabitants are virtually a law unto themselves as they compete for the lobster market, the only commercial venue open to them.
In a deceptively simple style and the dry, straight talk of a native telling a tale which may or may not be a "tall one," Gilbert introduces Ruth Thomas, the feisty product of a rare interisland marriage. We come to know her relatives, the friends with whom she shares her challenging and sometimes monotonous life, and we watch her grow up and deal with the problems, conflicts, frustrations, and ultimate satisfactions of her isolation on the island. As the one person who really has access to the rival "players" on both islands, Ruth is also a reluctant beacon of hope for the future of the islands.
Gilbert's warm tale of this hard life perfectly captures the cadences and rhythms of the "down Maine" speaker. Her characters sound and act real--though not one of the says "ayuh" even once! Her story of the sternmen shows them to be stern, hard men, but the story has heart, and "it were a good'un." Mary Whipple
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3.0 out of 5 stars Stern Men, 1 July 2014
This review is from: Stern Men (Paperback)
I enjoy reading Elizabeth Gilbert's books, and was looking forward to starting this one, but unfortunately this edition, (Bloomsbury), has really small lettering and so I haven't read it. (Pilgrims and The Last American Man are printed with bigger lettering in this same editorial).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting lobster!, 6 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Stern Men (Kindle Edition)
Not a fishy tail, i have always liked lobster but I thought this was too much but it wasn't enjoy
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1.0 out of 5 stars Crustacean frustration, 14 July 2011
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This review is from: Stern Men (Paperback)
I was disappointed by this - was hoping for a better story, with more depth and less cliche. The setting is great - rugged coastlines, lobstermen and their families with stories to tell and secrets itching to be divulged. I was hopeful but ultimately underwhelmed. I found it very hard to care about Ruth or what she was so adamant about.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 16 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Stern Men (Kindle Edition)
Too much detail, I wanted it to move along more quickly
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Stern Men
Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert (Paperback - 2 Mar 2009)
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