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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful book, 13 Sep 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Amy and Isabelle (Hardcover)
This is a wonderful book. It brought back the agony of being a teenager. I found the portrayal of the characters refreshing and unpatronising. I stumbled across this book on the recommendation of a friend who owns a booksore otherwise I would not of known of it. I'm now telling all my friends to buy it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mother-daughter relationship story, 25 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Amy and Isabelle (Paperback)
A readable and well-paced story of a relationship crisis between a single mother and her teenage daughter. Amy has got involved with her teacher. Why is her mother so angry in this particular way?
While this is a character study novel, it does move along at a good pace. It not only shows the two main characters and their thoughts and feelings, but sets them in the context of the small town in which they live.
What secrets is Isabelle hiding, and how do they affect her feelings about Amy's behaviour?
I have seen lots of overwhelmingly positive responses from women on online reading groups to this book, suggesting it touches something in a wide range of women's experience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very human, 3 Feb 2011
This review is from: Amy and Isabelle (Paperback)
Elizabeth Strout never disappoints. She has the knack of getting right inside people's heads and characters and you see them clearly, warts and all.
She has her own style so you have to "slow down" and go at her gentle pace. One is always rewarded in full. This is the second book I have read by this author. For me her stories are compelling, moving and compassionate. I just love reading about her characters which are so real - we all know people like them!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost an impressionist painting., 5 Sep 2009
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This review is from: Amy and Isabelle (Paperback)
I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Elizabeth Strout is a painter, as well as an amazing writer, or that at least she's very fond of painting. Every moment of this wonderful debut novel is marked by lights and colours, as if they were an indissoluble part of all the characters' lives. This gives such a gentle touch to Strout's narrative that you should really read the book to have a grasp of it. On top of that, the writer is really good at analyzing and describing human behaviours and feelings, in a way that you can't really help feeling sympathetic with the protagonists and very involved in the turnabouts of their lives.
At the end of the day that's all you need to turn an apparently simple story - a mother and daughter's story, set in a small town of the American province - into a gripping and unforgettable tale.
Highly recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely., 4 July 2014
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This review is from: Amy & Isabelle (Kindle Edition)
Full of atmosphere like you are there with them. Could n't put it down. A great read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Complexities of Mother Love, 5 Mar 2014
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Amy & Isabelle (Paperback)
Elizabeth Strout's Orange Prize shortlisted first novel is an examination of the life of a mother and daughter growing up in small-town East Coast America. Isabelle Goodrow has raised her daughter Amy alone in the small town of Shirley Falls, living in a small, scrupulously tidy house (that she won't buy, as she hates the idea of being tied to Shirley Falls for life), and working in a going-nowhere job as a secretary in a shoe factory. Now Amy is 17, and Isabelle is beginning to resent the fact that her daughter has tied her down for so many years. Amy, meanwhile, is growing restless in Shirley Falls with a mother who 'does nothing apart from work', and is longing for exciting new experiences. But with little access to culture (the inhabitants of Shirley Falls don't even seem to make it to Boston very often, or even read much) and no one to encourage her potential, she falls back on smoking cigarettes and 'hanging around' with her rebellious best friend Stacey, and responding enthusiastically to the flirtatious behaviour of her maths teacher Mr Robertson - a man who seems to come from a more cultured, more exciting world. When Amy's relationship with Mr Robertson begins to spiral out of control, and Isabelle finds out, it seems that a permanent rift will happen between mother and daughter. But life is full of surprises, and during the terrible months after Isabelle learns what Amy has been up to, Isabelle begins to learn the value of friendship, and that there's more to life than keeping up appearances, while Amy begins to realize that there's more to her mother (a woman of secrets) than meets the eye.

Strout writes beautifully and poignantly of the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, and of Amy and Isabelle's yearnings for something beyond the daily grind of their life in Shirley Falls. I liked her descriptions of Isabelle's memories of her past, and of Isabelle's desperate attempt to educate herself by reading 'Hamlet' and 'Madame Bovary' - and she's good on the close friendships that can arise between women. Amy, with her confusion and restlessness, is an interesting creation. I thought the book got better and better, and found the final section extremely moving - Strout is certainly a mistress of depicting small town life, and the individuals within it. However, that for me was also the book's weakness - it became at times very claustrophobic. Strout was describing a very insular world, in which no one appeared to have any cultural interests (apart from Isabelle with her reading), to travel, to enjoy nature (this was, for all the small-townness of the novel, quite an urban book), to watch films, play sport, or do anything apart from work, cook and gossip. This made the book in the end quite limited. Even the metropolitan Mr Robertson was a rather narrow character - a lecherous playboy with a few cultural phrases that he scattered into his speech occasionally. The nastiness of Mr Robertson meant that his affair with Amy wasn't as poignant as it could have been - and I couldn't help wondering whether Amy, as a bright adolescent, would have had more ambitions and interests than appears in Strout's depiction. Wouldn't she have been thinking about college, about ways to move to the big city and escape her mother's cramped style of life? But Strout gave us little hint of any of this, which made Amy's endless rather circular conversations with Stacey and later with Paul rather repetitive and a tiny bit dull. The emphasis on the characters' limitations throughout the novel stops me giving it five stars - but for Strout's perceptive analyses of motherhood, female friendship and adolescent restlessness I'd still warmly recommend it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Novel of Teenage Daughter Troubles, 13 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Amy and Isabelle (Hardcover)
I sought this book out after having enjoyed Strout's Pulitzer Prize winning "Olive Kitteridge". It was slow to get going and not the most up-beat story, but readable, and with a satisfying ending.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book, 18 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Amy & Isabelle (Paperback)
This is one of the best books I have ever read. I knew Elizabeth Strout's work from her Pullitzer Prize winning novel 'Olive Kitteridge' - this is possible better. From the first page you are drawn in to the tight world of mother and daughter, the town and values with which Isabelle leads her life. Gradually the situation in the first chapter is revealed, the sexual awakening of Amy and her discovery that her mother is not the woman she has been hating. The strength of women to support each other makes a perfect ending. All subtly and beautifully written.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative, 16 July 2013
This review is from: Amy & Isabelle (Kindle Edition)
Just a beautifully written book - so well written that it brought back memories of feelings I used to have when I was a teenager and all those difficult relationships you have growing up especially with your mother. As a mother myself now, I really understand how Isabelle feels. A fabulous book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, touching credible characters peopling a story of sex, secrets and lies, 10 Dec 2012
By 
K. Edmonds "ktedmonds" (Sussex) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Amy & Isabelle (Paperback)
If you enjoy Marilynne Robinson and Per Petterson, you'll love this excellent book which I stumbled across, having been leant it by a friend. Elizabeth Strout's writing really is of the very highest quality. The story here is a very simple one that unfolds fairly slowly but the reader is kept gripped by the brilliance of Strout's writing, the intriguing web of events and the deep humanity with which she reveals the evolving thoughts and feelings of young Amy and her mother, the rigid, apparently frigid Isabelle. It does take commitment to stay with the story because the pace is at times quite slow but this novel really rewards the demanding reader.

Only after finishing Amy and Isabelle did I research Elizabeth Strout and learn that her 2009 novel won the Pulitzer Prize. Given the quality of this, her first effort, I'm not surprised. Enjoy.
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Amy & Isabelle
Amy & Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout (Paperback - 9 Jun 2011)
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