Ernie's Ark
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Ernie's Ark

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  368 ratings  ·  69 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 Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
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...more
Michelle
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
Bob
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...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...more
Karen Carlson
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
Sherry H
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...more
Katrina
"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...more
Marilee
"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."
Chelsea
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.
Shannon
I didn't feel like this book tied anything substantial together...it 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.
Elaine
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Daniel Keohane
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
Stacy
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
Brendan
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...more
Jennifer
This was a lovely novel-in-stories (although I found out from the Q&A at the end of the book that Monica Wood hates that designation; she considers this a book of short stories, and that's all.) It takes place in a very small town in Maine where the major employer is a paper mill. In the first story, you learn that the mill workers have gone on strike. Throughout all of the stories in this book, you find out how the strike is affecting different people in different ways; you also find out ho...more
Julie
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
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
Kate Coddaire
I thought it was just a volume of short stories and was delighted when I found the stories were interwoven, from characters from the same Maine mill town.
Kathy Clark
Another big hit for Monica Wood. Can't wait to see how Portland Stage Company will produce this story this season.
Carolyn F.
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.
Megan
While the story wasn't boring, I just wasn't to interested in it.
Charlie Schnell
Jan 04, 2009 Charlie Schnell rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Charlie by: Amy ~ Thanks!
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!
Rosemary
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.
Rebecca
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.
Mom2nine

"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
Lee
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.
Virginia
I do not typically read a collection of short stories but I was enticed by the description. I am so glad I departed from my usual paths. Monica Wood is a powerful author who writes simply and beautifully. The little glimpses of the inter-related lives of the characters were so poignant that I was sad to see them disappear into the ether. Would that she would bring them back in a novel.
Julie Thurston
This is an engaging story about ordinary people in a small working-class town in Maine. Each chapter is written from a different character's voice, and they are all interwoven. While nothing particularly profound happens in the story, the journey is about discovering the personal motivations of each of these characters. A quick read, and extremely well written.
Susanne
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.
Harvey
Very nice collection of linked stories. Liked the Maine locale and the underlying situation with the Paper Mill strike.
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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...
When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine Any Bitter Thing The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing Description My Only Story

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