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Customer Review

2 of 2 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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Feb 2012 23:08:25 GMT
Eileen Shaw says:
Thanks for this review - very perceptive I thought.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Feb 2012 22:43:57 GMT
Book 1981 says:
Thanks Eileen - hope you enjoyed the book as much as I did!
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Location: London

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