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Any Bitter Thing

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,759 Ratings  ·  290 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 really liked it  ·  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
Jul 26, 2007 Jeannette rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booksihaveread
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.
Mar 25, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 13, 2011 Melissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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!
Apr 25, 2010 Jodie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
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.
Jul 12, 2008 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Valerie Hoff
May 22, 2016 Valerie Hoff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Valerie by: Pat Rawson
It is so exciting to be introduced to a new author and feel like you want to read everything they have written. Monica Wood is a Maine author so I am really embarrassed that I had not found her before. She has it all; humor, great story concept and rich characters. I must admit I also enjoyed reading an interview that was done by her sister which gives you insight into how a book evolves and how a single concept which starts a story thread can still be there when the final product has moved so f ...more
Jul 10, 2009 Elisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fun-novels
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
Feb 18, 2008 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
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
Apr 07, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!!
Melissa Forbes
Jun 08, 2015 Melissa Forbes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exquisite. Wood chooses every single word with care, and the structure is astounding. Better yet, it's a great story. A supremely good novel.
Mar 17, 2015 Connie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 02, 2012 Susy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 23, 2016 Sherry rated it really liked it
This is my third Monica Wood book, and my favorite so far. When Lizzie Mitchell's parents die when she is a toddler, it is her mother's brother Catholic priest, Father Michael, who wants to keep her. Her father's sister Celie with 5 boys of her own wants nothing to do with her. Father Mike gives her a rich, loving childhood filled with Licy Maud Mongomery and fudge, aided by French Canadian neighbor, Vivienne, tiny, petite and hard working, her huge, hulking, hard drinking husband, Ray, with Liz ...more
Oct 31, 2015 Cara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a book I picked up on a whim in the used bookstore at our library. It was my prize for completing their summer reading program. I can't believe what a gem it turned out to be and I'm so happy I found it. Monica Wood writes beautifully. Complicated and relatable characters, interesting plot twists, and clean, descriptive writing throughout made it a pleasure to read. I was delighted to learn she has written several others and will now look for them!
Mar 22, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over the past few months, I've read (I think) ALL of Monica Wood's published fiction. (I'm currently in the middle of a bit of an orgy of New England writers' books, especially Maine writers.) Everything by Wood is great, but this one is the best.
May 21, 2013 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
After surviving a near-fatal accident, thirty-year-old Lizzy Mitchell faces a long road to recovery. She remembers little about the days she spent in and out of consciousness, save for one thing: She saw her beloved deceased uncle, Father Mike, the man who raised her in the rectory of his Maine church until she was nine, at which time she was abruptly sent away to boarding school. Was Father Mike an angel, a messenger from the beyond, or something more corporeal? Though her troubled marriage and ...more
Apr 08, 2016 Lois rated it it was amazing
I finished "Bitter" with goosebumps and tears gathering in my eyelashes. Oh, wow, I was not expecting this book to sideswipe me like this. My simplest explanation of it's content is this: Mix a little girl's innocence and her adoration for the adult who cares for her with multilayered adult secrets- tragedies. Watch through Lizzy what growing up mourning does to human development; reach out and feel the glass wall between her and her present life. The text is skillfully laced with the Catholic c ...more
Dec 04, 2013 Kalima rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 13, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Apr 29, 2013 Sherry H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 06, 2013 Cricket Muse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
"...Lizzy Mitchell was raised from the age of two by her uncle, a Catholic priest. She has never understood why she was taken from him and sent away to boarding school at age nine, and she believes the reasons were later buried along with her uncle. Now thirty years old and trying to save a failed marriage, Lizzy nearly dies in a traffic accident. In the haze of recovery she hears the voice of her beloved uncle, Father Mike, and sets out to find the truth about him and about her past..."
Oct 21, 2008 CMT325 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 16, 2013 Bud Mallar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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.
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