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Any Bitter Thing

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  1,570 ratings  ·  266 reviews
Any Bitter Thing, Wood's brilliant new novel, is her breakout book, a timely, gripping, and compassionate tale of family, faith, and deeply hidden truths. One of its greatest strengths is its continuous ability to defy expectations. It's not what you think. It is worse. Lizzy Mitchell was raised from the age of two by her uncle, a Catholic priest. When she was nine, he was ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 19th 2005 by Chronicle Books (first published 2005)
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Nov 22, 2008 Brent rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of
Shelves: fiction
I picked this book up in Portland, ME, while on my vacation thinking it would be nice to have a local author's work to enjoy on my way home.

I could not put it down my entire trip back to Utah.

When I review books, I don't summarize the plot for fear of giving something away unnecessarily. Instead, I like to focus on the more technical side to analyzing works of fiction since I need a good, logical reason to read them in the first place.

Monica Wood has a great sense of cadence in her writing that
I grabbed this book off of a discount shelf at barnes and noble, I don't regret it, but it wasn't a compelling read ... it was a "nice story" but not a tremendous literary achievement.
Twenty-five years ago I read a short story in Yankee Magazine by fledgling writer, Monica Wood. It impressed me so much that I saved the magazine and carried it around with me for years. It's worn and tattered and the cover is coming off, but I still have it somewhere.

I long ago gave up the search for more of her writing, until a friend of mine on Facebook recommended a new novel by an author with a somehow very familiar-sounding name.... I was delighted to re-discover Monica Wood, and to find
I loved this book. Loved it! The sense of longing was so beautifully portrayed that I had a constant lump in my throat or my hand on my heart the entire time. The prose is so perfect in parts, really this is some of the best writing I have read in years. It is not a fast moving story or action packed at all but it is an incredibly emotional portrayal of human relationships, full of depth and wonderfully constructed. For me, this is a book that I will measure other books against.
TOTALLY on my list of answers to: So, any good book recommendations? Any Bitter Thing, The Myth of You and Me, and Water for Elephants are the first that I list.
This book was very surprising. I thought that I knew what was going to happen, how the book would end, but I was surpirsed. Simple descriptions caught me, surprised me with the strangeness and perfection of the images conjured. Read this book!
A heartfelt story of loyalty, betrayal, Fatherhood, childhood, marriage and fidelity, faith, and love. Above all, I'd say it is a tale of relationships: what makes one healthy and abiding rather than abandoned or deceived. Technically my rating is 3.5, but that rounds up to 4.

What I loved: The characterization is MASTERFUL. You LOVE each of the characters, flawed and benevolent, and most importantly, feel like you KNOW them. Wood really helps you see inside, without cluttering the reading with t
Wood gives an amazingly realistic portrayal of an adult's memory of early childhood. The relationship of a young girl to her caretaker that emerges is the most poignant I've ever read. Her attention to the details of childhood is such that it reminded me of things I hadn't thought about in decades. The main character's experience of being ripped from her caretaker amid false allegations is truly heart-wrenching without being maudlin - a difficult feat.

However, Wood's handling of the relationship
Great story about family, loss, and lots of buried secrets. Lizzy wakes up in the hospital after being hit by a car while running in the dark after a fight with her husband. She sees her dead uncle (a priest) at her hospital bedside while in a fog of unconsciousness and then she begins to try to come to terms with her injury, her past as her uncle's adopted daughter when she was orphaned at 2, and trying to piece together her childhood and what happened to her uncle.

Lots of nice twists and turns
Pamela ciccolini
I was uncertain where this book would go and wasn't sure I would like it. But to my surprise I couldn't put it down and not to give away any part of the story, I was touched and moved to tears at the pure innocence yet cruelty of love and devotion. A very good read!!
The story in this book was good. It made me angry from the standpoint of people and institutions making assumptions and accepting things as gospel even without really trying to find the answers.
I loved this book and probably will need to revisit it because I raced through the pages. The plot is subtle in its complexity and the narrators shifts from present to past but the story is seamless in the telling - and so heartfelt. I'm not Catholic but am familiar with the liturgy and ritual and found those references for the most part comforting - shocking given the unravelings of too many of the Churches priests. Father Mike was credible in his faith and his love for his niece but beyond tha ...more
I don't give 5 stars easily. This quiet book swept me up and dropped me breathlessly into that moment between Before and After. This writer, with her exquisite prose, weaves a gripping and grace-filled story of redemption. Human failings are brought to reconciliation, relationships are changed, and yet they remain somehow the same. There are surprises which astonish! I will go back to this amazing book again and again, to discern and savor subtleties I might have missed in my race through it the ...more
This was a wonderful surprise! I bought this book for $1.99 and did not expect much. I would recommend this book to my friends.
Ayelet Waldman
I seem not to be able to get enough of these dark and gloomy east coast winter novels...
Janie Johnson
I did not finish this book so I will not rate it. This was part of a challenge. I read to almost the half way point and just found it dry and boring. It was not very engaging at all. I also found it to be very wordy with parts that did not seem to be necessary for this book.

The description of the 'near fatal' accident was very vague. I am sure maybe towards the end of the book it may have gotten a bit more in depth. I also found that characters just seemed to be thrown into the story with no ot
I have long delayed reading this book because of what I thought to be the subject matter - child sexual abuse. And yes, that is the underlying subject matter but not in the way I thought. The book is beautifully written. Monica Wood has a poet's ear for metaphor and phrasing. She also writes believable, fully realized characters; but as a cover-blurb says, she is a master of "...the forgotten, undersold virtue of good sound plotting..." I was very impressed by the way she introduced different el ...more

This was my 34% Into This Book Update Status: "WOW! Not what I expected. How did I get so sucked in? The characters feel like they have literally come to life. When characters speak I hear each of their voices speaking to me. Don't let what any synopses or what any book jacket tells you this book is about - Please read it and decide what this book is about yourself. I think it's about everyone, regardless of who you are or who you are not and what your beliefs are and what your beliefs are not..
Sherry H
After my first Monica Wood, the wonderful little gem Ernie's Ark, I planned to read more, and added Any Bitter Thing to my "to read" list.

From there, I ignored it. Because the title makes me think this is an Oprah book, or another of the endless sad, bitter, angst-filled stories that seem to creep up on me and leave me depressed. While clearing out my "to read" list recently, I was thisclose to deleting this. But then I saw the author name and went - wait - what?

So I read the synopsis, and thoug
Cricket Muse
Monica Wood is a new author for me. Attracted to the cover and title, I tried it out. Wood is one of those writers whose talent for imagery and plot is admirable. Pulled into the story, I didn't do my usual toss aside when one of the characters went over the top in profanity. I just beeped it on through. Basic plot summary:

Orphaned at two, Lizzy is raised by her Catholic priest uncle. All goes well until a horrible accusation separates them. Lizzy has never truly recovered from being torn away f
It was my understanding that most people who enjoyed "The Secret Life of bees" also loved this book. "TSLOB" is one of my favorite novels, and yet, "Any Bitter Thing" didn't do it for me.

Lizzy is hit by a teenager who left her to die. Miraculously, she is rescued, and during her coma, has visions of her Uncle, a Priest who raised her until she was nine years old. The odd thing about these visions is that her Uncle died shortly after she was taken from him back when she was nine years od, after h
Bud Mallar
you all should read this.....

Excellent story, emotions, characters, subject matter. Easy to read, simple lessons to be learned.

Yes it is 'chick lit' - if you're into detailed kinky sex, cops and robbers, silliness and/or high adventure, this is not for you. This is about people, doing the best they can and not always succeeding.

I'm not sure how I got into my first Monica Wood book - my wonderful, book store owning niece probably, and/or Ms Wood is from that part of Maine where my relatives live
This book is a complex story and full of startling events that revealed towards the end of the book.
Lizzy Mitchell's parents die and she is raised from an early age by her uncle, who happens to be a Catholic priest. Suddenly at the age of 9 she is taken from her uncle and given to an aunt from the other side of her family. The aunt puts Lizzy in boarding school. Lizzy is never really told why she was taken away, but is told that her uncle died of heart problems that are prevalent in the family.
I found this to be a very thoughtful and sensitive look at human relationships and roles, in particular the Catholic priesthood. The writing was beautiful at times, but other times I had trouble staying interested, in part because it is so melancholy. I enjoyed the plot twists towards the end which livened things up, but I'm ambivalent about some parts of the ending. I think I would read another book by this author.
Both my parents read this, then passed it on to me. Interesting story about a woman who was raised by her uncle, a priest, and how unorthodox that was, especially in their small town. She was taken away from him when she was nine, and never learned the truth about what happened back then. After fighting with her husband, she leaves the house and is hit by a car. While healing in the hospital, she's determined to find out the truth about both men she's loved. There are a lot of great twists in th ...more
Mary Taitt
Oct 05, 2013 Mary Taitt rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary by: Erin
Shelves: literary-fiction
I finished, last week, Any Bitter Thing, by Monica Wood, which I also liked very much. I was a sad and disturbing book, an amazingly surprising book (to me). A woman, Lizzy, age 30, is hit by a car in a hit-and-run accident while running, and moved to the side of the road and abandoned by the “bad Samaritan.” She nearly dies but pulls through and during her long recovery, she “dreams” she sees her Uncle, who raised her, Father Mike, a long dead Catholic priest. Although her nearly estranged husb ...more
Granny J
"it struck me that any one form of love borrowed from all the others."
At seminary he found more books, oceans of thought as yet unnavigated"
reading as meditation.
he discovered prayer. Real prayer, not the romantic notions of his fervid boyhood--God is my father, God is my friend, God is my protector'
No God is not this, God is not that. God is.
He came to understand that the opposite of God is not Satan. The opposite of God is not evil. The opposite of God is absence.

undiscovered layers of thing
John Schaberg
I have come to really love Monica Woods. She is one of the most authentic voices i have come across in a long time. This book was the fiction version of "When we were the Kennedy's". Many of the same characters, though thinly veiled. BUT - there is a huge twist that, I can only assume, is a literary flourish and not the "real" truth of the story. Check it out.
Oh my, loved this book. I so wanted to know what happens, but at the same time didn't want the book to be over. Much like in her memoir, this author amazed me with her ability to evoke feelings especially of childhood. She is so skilled at capturing emotion.
And I was surprised that there were surprises in this book! Things I didn't see coming that made the book a really great read.
ummmm. how do I explain,,, it was ok. liked the twist at the end. i felt there was some stuff that didnt need to be there, but my biggest problem was how one minute she's telling the story, then she would get super writer-y. writing like a person would speak, then switch to 50 cent words, strewn together to prove she has a great command of the king's english. we get it. you have a vast vocab. it feels forced and pretentious. but whatevs. i got it for .99.
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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 The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing Ernie's Ark Description My Only Story

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