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Ernie's Ark

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  524 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
The paper mill looms up from the riverbank in Abbott Falls, Maine, a town once drenched with ordinary hopes and dreams, now praying for a small drop of good fortune. Ernie Whitten, a pipe fitter, was three weeks away from a pension-secured retirement when the union went on strike eight months ago. Now his wife Marie is ill. Struck with sudden inspiration, Ernie builds a gi ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by Ballantine Books (first published 2002)
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Richard Derus
Mar 10, 2012 Richard Derus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4.875* of five

The Book Report: Ernie Whitten no longer has a purpose. He's been a pipe-fitter in Abbots Falls, Maine, at the papermill, for most of his life and now he's...retired, unemployed, not working, whatever...BORED. So he decides to build something.

An ark. Like in the Bible. Maybe miracles will come with it, for Marie, his sick wife.

Nine stories spin in their orbits around this one major event in Abbots Falls, involving town residents both willing and unwilling, and purposeful an
Aug 24, 2009 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
I don't know how Monica Wood isn't more well known. Her writing just blows me away. Simple and sparse, yet very evocative. It's been a long time (10+ years?) since I've found an author I love so much I have to immediately read everything (s)he's written. Unfortunately she hasn't written all that much! Anyway, this is a collection of linked short stories about the various people of a small working class town in Maine. As with her previous work, the characters are rich and deep and stayed with me ...more
May 26, 2012 Bob rated it really liked it
Monica Wood's fictitious characters live in a fictitious Maine paper mill town, but both the characters and the lives they lead burst with reality.
In "Ernie's Ark" Wood tells each of their stories in separate chapters, weaving those lives together with a delicate artistry and a wonderful sense of believability.
This is a writer who understands the richness of even the sound of words placed together.
Ernie's Yorkshire terrier "Pumpkin Pie" is "this silly-name pushbroom of an animal."
In a conversati
Nov 11, 2014 Scot rated it really liked it
I read this book aloud in segments over the last year and it was truly enjoyable. I originally picked it up at a bookstore in Maine when I asked the proprietor to recommend something that would give me the feel of Maine. The book is collection of nine short stories that are all linked to changes in a paper mill town including a strike, rallies, multinational corporation machinations, and how non-mill workers interact in the community. At its heart though this book is about love, loss, connection ...more
Karen Carlson
Aug 12, 2012 Karen Carlson rated it really liked it
A very good collection of closely-linked stories! The weaker ones in the middle serve as exposition for the overall work. And the good ones are really good – several were published in good literary magazines, and the title story won a Pushcart in 1999! Ok, so I am late to the party! I went to a reading of her new memoir "When We Were the Kennedys" (she is from Maine like me) and liked her writing and liked her very much, but I do not particularly care for memoir right now so I read this collecti ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I love Monica Wood. There's a sort of understated genius in her writing. Her style reminds me somewhat of Richard Russo, although she's much more brief. She has that same ability to create a small town world with characters you care about, and to throw in a lot of insight about life and relationships.

This is a very short (189 pages) collection of interconnected stories that make a novel when read together. It takes place in a small Maine town where a strike at the paper mill drags on for months
Sherry H
Apr 24, 2012 Sherry H rated it really liked it
You know I love a bargain, right?

Finding Ernie's Ark as the Nook Daily Find, for 99 cents... it's like finding a pretty little vase at a garage sale that turns out to be Tiffany.

Is it nine short stories, or is it a novel? Is it melancholy, or is it brimming with hope? Are the characters really messed up, or are they really beautifully drawn, rich and deep and good? Yes and yes and yes and yes and yes and YES!

I've never read Monica Wood before, but I am charmed, and will look for more of her work
Dec 24, 2011 Katrina rated it it was amazing
"All these separate journeys, crossing back and forth over each other, begot in him a type of happiness that felt perilous, vaguely ill-gotten." Page 145

That quote sums up this book for me. So many characters, so many stories but they all intertwine like lives in a small mill town do. Some of the stories are so tragic you almost feel bad for how happy the book makes you at points, as you watch hearts break and loved ones leave the plotline. But no matter what, happiness pours from the pages of t
May 30, 2012 Marilee rated it liked it
"Nine interrelated stories create a layered and complex portrait of a community in the midst of crisis as a strike wears on at the paper mill, and the residents of Abbott Falls, Maine, feel the reverberations of the towns shifting fortune. Ernie, just days shy of retirement when the strike hits, finds new purpose in building an ark in the backyard. Written with a quiet grace and lyrical power, Ernies Ark is a moving work by a writer who understands the vagaries and hopes of the human heart."
Mickey Collins
Jul 29, 2015 Mickey Collins rated it it was amazing
This is a book of stories, and I usually don't like short stories, but this reads like a novel, as all the characters are connected. Young and old, all living in a mill town in Maine. I loved all the stories, and the beautiful writing. Each story could be a novel in itself. I am so happy to have found this author. She has other books that I can't wait to read.
Sep 22, 2008 Shannon rated it it was ok
I didn't feel like this book tied anything substantial was just a bunch of random people in a small town--not even connected wholly to the central symbol, which was Ernie's Ark (obviously). I would have been more settled about it if it was just compiled as a series of short stories. Not my favorite read.
Jul 09, 2014 Chelsea rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing. When I finished "The Temperature of Desire," I literally flung myself down and started sobbing. And that was far from the only story in the book that affected me so powerfully. Truly incredible stories.
Grady McCallie
Jul 06, 2017 Grady McCallie rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Set in a small Maine town where a bitter paper mill strike has forced almost everyone to take sides, these nine linked stories explore the ways people stumble towards empathy and grace in their relationships with one another. In several of the stories, perhaps most, it is when the protagonist is feeling most alone and helpless that they put themselves at risk to feel or express compassion for someone else. Most of the stories end with a sense that, however much of a mess the characters have made ...more
Kim Carney
May 18, 2017 Kim Carney rated it really liked it
This book was really enjoyable. Styled as 9 short stories the stories are related and I really enjoyed the characters. A short and quick read--set in Maine, which I love.
Apr 08, 2016 Sherry rated it really liked it
Nine interconnecting stories tell the stories of individuals in Abbott Falls, Maine where Atlantic Pulp and Paper Mill workers are on strike and the company has brought in scab workers to break the strike. Ernie Whitten, pipe fitter, was just three weeks from retirement and a pension when the strike began eight months ago, builds an ark for his art loving, librarian, wife Marie, of 45 years, whom he has loved since they were in 7th grade, is dying of cancer. Their selfish loner son Jim cannot wa ...more
Daniel Keohane
Aug 13, 2012 Daniel Keohane rated it it was amazing
This is a perfect book. If not the Great American Novel, then we can call it the Great New England Novel. Funny thing is, it's not so much a novel as a group of interconnected short stories about a group of interconnected people, living in a small Maine town heavy with the weight of a year-long labor strike. When I first realized these were individual stories I was a little bummed out, because the first story was so, so good: a man months from retirement spends his days caring for, and worrying ...more
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Jul 10, 2012 Stacy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memorable
I've read so many great books lately which are linked stories about small towns told from different people's perspectives -- Plainsong, Olive Kitteridge, Driftless -- but this may be my favorite yet. A Northeast community is being torn apart by a long and bitter factory strike. Lots of "big" themes are covered, like belonging, coming of age, parenting, losing the great love of your life to death, but the author tells each character's story with such respect and tenderness that the insights are n ...more
Jun 16, 2007 Brendan rated it liked it
In “That One Autumn,” one of nine linked stories collected into Ernie’s Ark, Wood gives us her philosophy in one sharply focused moment. Marie, on the run from a marriage gone awry, has been kidnapped by a young couple also on the run, but from the cops. Rather than kill Marie as her boyfriend instructs, a better-hearted Tracey goes through the motions of tying her captive up, before, “with shocking tenderness,” cutting her harmlessly just above the hairline.

“You chose a hell of a life for yours
Taylor McCafferty
Apr 19, 2013 Taylor McCafferty rated it it was amazing
Monica Wood makes it exceptionally easy to relate to her characters. Ernie's Ark explores the lives of eight characters from the fictional town of Abbott Falls, which could very easily be a number of dying Maine mill towns, also "small good place[s], once drenched with ordinary hopes and decent money, [that are now] beginning to furl like autumn leave[s]." As someone who grew up with a father constantly in and out of a paper mill, this is an all-too-familiar place for me. I went into this book r ...more
Julie Salinas
Mar 14, 2013 Julie Salinas rated it it was amazing
Monica Wood is an author in Maine who did an excellent job of creating characters whose stories intertwine with each other. I grew up near this area of Maine, and I recognized every character in the story and the localities. I started to wonder if Abbots falls was Livermore Falls. (the author is from Mexico, Maine). If Blaine College was Bates College, that Bear Lake was Bear Pond. But even if I wasn't from this area I would tell you to read this story. Ernie builds an ark, a piece of art in his ...more
Richda Mcnutt
Apr 01, 2012 Richda Mcnutt rated it liked it
A very well-written collection of inter-connected stories set in a small milltown in Maine. The paper mill is on strike, disrupting lives and family loyalties. Change is inevitable, and the stories detail how individuals react and adjust to it. One of the characters in particular, Francine, made me ache for her. Early teens, out of place in all places, shunned by her peers and overlooked by most adults, yet sweet-tempered and ever hopeful. And then there's Ernie - who builds an ark for his dying ...more
Carolyn F.
May 06, 2012 Carolyn F. rated it it was amazing
This book reminded me of waves, you start with one character's point of view and then that flows some crashing into the next character and so on. A very well written book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

A union town in Maine is on strike and this book is about the people that are somehow touched by it, some of them not working at the paper mill at all. The book has a quasi-happy ever after because even some good things do happen, you can never been what is done and said.

I would recommend this book.
Mar 04, 2011 Lee rated it really liked it
Shelves: maine-books
This is a lovely linked set of nine stories set in a paper-mill town in Maine. Monica Wood does a great job of describing the lives of the residents against the backdrop of a strike at the town's main employer. Her writing is spare and right on target.

I've driven through Wood's hometown of Mexico, Maine on many occasions, and smelled the fumes from the paper mill there. I'm sure she is writing what she knows.
Mar 13, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it
I devoured this in a day. The first of the 9 stories hooked me, but I was worried with the second one that it was just going to be too dark and depressing. Not so. Well, okay, depressing, but the characters were so engaging it didn't matter. I adore Ernie and Francine. I want them to have great adventures together. I want a happily ever after for this town, these people.

This was another Kindle Daily Deal success, yay.
Charlie Schnell
Apr 25, 2008 Charlie Schnell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Charlie by: Amy ~ Thanks!
Shelves: short-stories
What an excellent book! I really enjoyed this one and only wish there was more of it. Great character development and great writing. More about any of the characters would be great. This reminded me of Richard Russo ~ my favorite author. Some of that is the same type of story, subject matter, but the character development is just as good. My usual complaint is; "why 700 pages when it could have been 400". With this one it is why 200 pages when it could have been 700!
May 22, 2012 Rosemary rated it really liked it
Ernie's Ark is the tale of a small town where the chief source of employment is a paper making company. The union members of this company are out on strike; their lives and that of other members of the town and the company owner are revealed through a series of short stories. Each chapter can stand on its own but all of the chapters together give the complete story. This is a very well written book and holds the reader's interest.
Jul 23, 2013 Mom2nine rated it it was amazing

"Love this author, only wish she had written more books. I am not normally a fan of the short story, as I like to spend more time reading so they feel disjointed. These stories stand alone or together. Each story/chapter is written from a different point of view of various people in one little town. The town's main source of income is a papermill, which is on strike. This affects everyone in town, one way or the other
Jean Bailey
Sep 15, 2016 Jean Bailey rated it really liked it
Loved this cleverly written book by Monica Wood! I don't usually read short stories, but this actually read like a novel! Each story revolved around a central theme, and she creatively captured your interest in characters and plot. Many characters were particularly heart-warming. When people are down and out, it is often difficult to think that "tomorrow will be a better day", but sailing away in an Ark? that's another story! I shall definitely read more novels written by Monica Wood!
Apr 13, 2008 Susanne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
This is one of the few books that I like to re-read again every few years or so. I am very fond of its well-rounded characters, and appreciate how the individual stories come full circle at the end. I haven't read any of Monica Wood's novels, but I'd almost rather not, simply because I think she is so good at writing short stories.
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Monica Wood is the author of four works of fiction, most recently Any Bitter Thing, which spent 21 weeks on the American Booksellers Association extended bestseller list and was named a Book Sense Top Ten pick. Her other fiction includes Ernie’s Ark and My Only Story, a finalist for the Kate Chopin Award.
More about Monica Wood...

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