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Amy and Isabelle

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  11,670 Ratings  ·  1,367 Reviews
With compassion, humor, and striking insight, Amy and Isabelle explores the secrets of sexuality that jeopardize the love between a mother and her daughter. Amy Goodrow, a shy high school student in a small mill town, falls in love with her math teacher, and together they cross the line between understandable fantasy and disturbing reality. When discovered, this emotional ...more
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published (first published 1998)
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Mar 05, 2013 Elyse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's an excruciatingly hot hot crops aren't growing.
Amy and her mother Isabelle are working together at the local Mill Factory, in New England, doing office work.
The mill ladies each have their concerns-stress-and secrets...and sorrows. One lady is having an affair. Another is fighting cancer...another is very out spoken about 'too much'.
Amy becomes entangled in a sticky position with her substitute teacher that will jeopardize a smooth free-flowing relationship with her
Jan 18, 2016 Alena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved. Loved. Loved.
I'm already a huge Strout fan and I've been meaning to go back and read this, her first novel. I'm so glad I did. A sure sign of 5 stars for me is when I can hardly read fast enough to devour the writing/storytelling/characters while at the same time never wanting it to end. That was me this morning.
Strout fans will recognize the sense of longing and loneliness in her characters, themes she has continued to explore in her more recent works. I was captivated by the mother-daug

A ruminative story about loneliness, missed opportunities, envy, yearning, and hope set against a small, sad town in New England, Amy and Isabelle focuses on the emotionally complex relationship between an unassuming mother and her reticent teenage daughter. Amy is the obedient, respectful daughter until she becomes involved with her 40-something substitute math teacher. When Isabelle finds out, mother and daughter find their relationship suddenly strained and tense. Seemingly f
Jun 15, 2013 orsodimondo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
Si passa da un inverno con cielo plumbeo e pesante che anche a mezzogiorno immerge le camere nel buio, a un'estate in cui la città sembra avvolta da una garza sudicia che ricaccia indietro qualsiasi raggio di sole: è il trionfo dell’assenza di colore.
A meno che non si voglia chiamare colore il marrone del fiume che attraversa la città, con la schiuma giallastra sulle sponde, e il forte odore di zolfo nell’aria.

Su uno sfondo del genere, è difficile che caratteri personalità e co
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Oct 03, 2012 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Read while in Juniper New Brunswick milltown
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Michael Edwards
Yes this reads like a soap opera, how else could you hope to portray life in a small New England mill town? It’s pretty typical, everyone knows everyone’s business, social hierarchies are rigid and all ‘outsiders’ are suspect. Timeline is the 70’s but it could just as easily be taking place today.

In her debut novel Strout shows herself a master at building multi-layered characters, warts and all. Amy is a shy, insecure and socially inept teen - the perfect target for a sexual predator. Enter th
Jan 31, 2016 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mamalove
Closely observed and nuanced. One of the best books about a mother daughter relationship I've read. Loneliness, isolation, and betrayal are the themes explored. I was often uncomfortable reading parts of this novel because the hunger of these characters to belong makes for heartbreaking moments. I worried for them and then hoped for them.


Mar 19, 2013 Dolors rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
Isabelle and Amy, mother and daughter, live in Shirley Falls, a small and quiet little town in Maine where apparently nothing much ever happens. But a lot of its people live in secret turmoil.
Isabelle has had a crush on her married boss for more than 10 years and she feels her life is being wasted away, and secretly, even without daring to articulate the thought, she blames Amy, her 15 years old daughter.
Amy has her own things to deal with. Brought up by her reclusive and unreachable mother, sh
Nov 12, 2007 Joanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Heartbreakingly real, beautifully written, the relationships in this book will stay with me. This was an intense read and I am filled with both hope and despair for all of these women. A delicate but steely line separates us from joy and can only occasionally be broken, but with a quick flip of the wrist that same line separates us from fear.

My favorite "aha" moment of the book--Isabelle decides to educate herself and starts reading Hamlet but breaks off at the point when he declares "Frailty,
Jul 17, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story could have ended halfway through and I would have been content with that. Instead, it went on, way past where I would have expected it to end, and each additional page felt like some secret reward. Strout writes deliberately and without trite language. She's able to masterfully capture the feel of both the single mother and her sordid past as well as the teenage daughter and her sexual awakenings. While predictable in spots (I knew that Isabelle would eventually reveal her past and th ...more
Jun 10, 2011 Anastasia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-2012
In questo momento sono ancora in adorazione.

L'oggetto di questa mia smodata ammirazione è Elizabeth Strout.
Cominciavo a temere di dover dire addio ai cinque mensili. Di solito fra letture mediamente piacevoli, c'era sempre quella chicca, che in qualche modo incoronava il mese. Ultimamente la media dei miei voti alle lettura s'era notevolmente abbassata. Non capivo se fosse perché io m'ero inacidita, oppure perché davvero era un periodo un po' smorto.
Ora sono propensa ad optare per la seconda.
Feb 18, 2017 Arwen56 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Il difficile rapporto tra una madre e una figlia incastonato nella vita di un piccolo paese del New England. Nonostante sia il primo romanzo scritto della Strout, la fattura è eccellente. In particolare, i primi due terzi del libro sono costruiti con vera maestria, un andare avanti e indietro nel tempo ben calibrato, in un’estate torrida e umida, che acuisce i contrasti, esaspera i sentimenti e sfianca le resistenze.

Meno convincente la parte finale, ma comunque un gran bel leggere.
Aug 20, 2009 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was wowed by Strout's writing in Olive Kitteridge, so decided to read other books she has written. I was not disappointed with Amy and Isabelle, a novel about the strained relationship between Isabelle, a single mother, and her teen-aged daughter Amy. A/I is a coming of age story of young Amy--but also of her mother--as both slowly and painfully find their freedom, independence, and the confidence to move ahead.

The story is not merely a struggle between mother and daughter; it’s an intricate
Although set in small town America in around 1970, this is a story about emotional isolation and a mother and teenage daughter's troubled relationship, that could have easily taken place today. This a fine example of character driven and superbly crafted realistic fiction, where even the secondary characters, the neighbours and friends in this small town, are multidimensional, authentic and well developed with their own stories and problems. I really loved how, despite the focus of course being ...more
Aug 31, 2012 Irene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was incredibly well written; even the secondary characters were crafted with exquisite care. Having put it down last evening, I can’t stop thinking about this book. Unfortunately, I am at a loss to summarize it. If I were to say that it is the story of Isabelle, a single mother, and her teenaged daughter, Amy, weathering a particularly difficult period in the daughter’s adolescence, I would hardly scratch the surface of this novel. If I described it as a story of the deep well of shame ...more
Not sure why I even picked this book up. Boring and predictable. The fact that it was made into an Oprah movie should have been the first clue...
May 28, 2009 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another amazing book -- I'd place this right up there with the two Lionel Shriver books I've been raving about.

I read Elizabeth Strout's "Olive Kitteridge" earlier this year, because it was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award -- my fave award next to the Booker. "O.K." was quietly powerful, and I enjoyed it. After I read it, it won the Pulitzer (unrelated events, I'm sure), which was a pleasant surprise, since Pulitzer Prize winners are so hit or miss for me.

Well, "Amy and Isab
Shirley Falls, un piccolo paesino del Maine. Un'estate di canicola. Una madre, una figlia e un'intera comunità vista attraverso il filtro delle donne che la animano.

Quand'è che smettiamo di essere figli e diventiamo estranei, persone indipendenti, complete e separate? Conosciamo davvero intimamente le persone che ci hanno donato la vita e ci hanno cresciuto? E quanto veramente loro conoscono noi? Siamo inevitabilmente condannati ad essere degli alieni gli uni per gli altri, nonostante gli stren
Jul 18, 2015 Erika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a like an astonishingly beautiful piece of instrumental music. It takes a little patience, but once you truly experience it, the rewards are immense.
Amy and Isabelle are a mother and teenaged daughter living in a small town in the early 60s. Isabelle, the mother, is repressed, lonely and disappointed with how her life turned out. Amy on the other hand, is young, beautiful, very sexual and incredibly innocent—the kind of girl that would make any parent worry. The book covers one sum
Oct 03, 2015 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The elements of this story are very commonplace. Isabelle is a single mother raising a teenage daughter in a small New England mill town. Amy is shy and socially awkward, struggling with insecurity and inability to please her mother. Both lead lonely lives, spinning out their days in self-imposed isolation, unable to communicate and connect with each other or with the other townspeople.

It is Strout’s characterizations that give this book impact, her ability to draw the reader in and engage with
Aug 24, 2009 Cheri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“It was terribly hot that summer Mr. Robertson left town, and for a long while the river seemed dead. Just a dead brown snake of a thing lying flat through the center of town, dirty yellow foam collecting at its edge.”

Isabelle is a fairly quiet single parent, working as a secretary in a factory in a relatively small town in New York. Amy is her daughter, a young girl-woman teetering on the verge of becoming a woman. Amy and Isabelle have a relatively quiet home life, although occasionally tense
Jan 06, 2012 Meghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Elizabeth Strout (ironically enough, a classmate of Ann Patchett's at Iowa Writer's Workshop, and a friend of hers now too) and anything she's done is quality fiction at its finest. I decided to read this because I loved Olive Kitteridge, and I was not let down. Strout's characters are so real I could feel them; they were so honest in their responses that it was sometimes painful. She captures the heartwrenching love and frustration and beauty of a mother daughter relationship; she also c ...more
Cindy Knoke
May 21, 2016 Cindy Knoke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable book with nuanced, subtle character development, and brilliant psychological insight. I am now reading all of Amy Stout's books and wonder what took me so long? Excellent literary achievement. Highest recommend.
beladozer (gretchen)
Oct 07, 2007 beladozer (gretchen) rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: waste-of-time
I made myself finish it just in case it suddenly got better. It didn't.
Jun 22, 2013 Roberto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amy e Isabelle sono una figlia e una madre della provincia americana degli anni Sessanta.

Madre e figlia, con un passato poco chiaro che può essere superato solamente con la comprensione ed il dialogo tra le due. Il loro rapporto, descritto come una linea nera che le collega e che si tende e si allenta ma mai si spezza, è esclusivo, profondo, spesso soffocante. Conducono una esistenza piena di segreti e omissioni, attese e rimproveri; alternano momenti di intolleranza e stizza al bisogno visceral
May 08, 2008 Mayra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is about a mother and daughter with secrets that are to be kept a secret so that nobody thinks bad about them.Amy is a quiet girl and she is very shy.She meets Mr.Robinson and hates him at first but after sometime starts to like him.Their relationship goes even further then a teacher relationship.Amy starts to see her teacher and they start to talk later they do more.Amy is told not to tell anyone and she doesn't. She loves the fact that he loves her and does these things with her and ...more
Aug 28, 2014 Ruthie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Once again Strout's writing amazes. This is her debut novel and I wish I had read it when it first came out and had experienced the excitement of discovering such a brilliant voice. I will not summarize here, others have done so quite well. This book stands as an example of such superb writing that almost any page could be selected at random and used as a template for a Master Writing class. No wasted words, no cliches, no "telling", all "showing", fully developed characters, perfectly paced sto ...more
So I don't watch much TV. And that is kind of an understatement. In the past four or five years I think the only time I have watched TV has been during football season and football games (I am told by my kids) don't count. Lately, I have found myself in many almost slightly embarrassing conversations in which I really don't have anything to add because not only do I not watch that series, I don't watch any series. And so, I watched season 1 of Breaking Bad two weeks ago and most of season 1 of M ...more
AJ LeBlanc
Dec 17, 2008 AJ LeBlanc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
An amazing read! Takes place around the early 1970s, but reads as if it were today. Isabelle is a single mom raising 16 year old Amy in a small, gossipy mill town. The two have a common mother/daughter relationship of sometimes love and sometimes hate. The book starts out looking at the lives of the two, but slowly branches out to include many of the women in the town.

Strout has a gift for developing characters that are so complete you wonder if they actually exist. Everyone has their flaws and
David Lentz
Jun 20, 2011 David Lentz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In her first outing, Elizabeth Strout shows great promise as a novelist. Clearly, she has not caught full-stride as a writer in this probably largely autobiographical first work. Her lean, almost minimalist, writing style is deceptive in its depth, at first. The women are all round, full and deep in their portrayal. But the men are all flat, one-dimensional, cardboard fiends. She seemed to be stretching to create a gritty realism in the dialogue, which simply came across in many places as contri ...more
Sep 11, 2012 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa
“Le vite umane, delicate come stoffa, potevano essere tagliuzzate capricciosamente dalle lame di momenti casuali di egoismo”: ho scelto questa espressione, usata dalla scrittrice stessa, per parlare di questo romanzo, che narra in modo intenso e appassionante la vita e le esperienze non emozionanti né speciali di un microcosmo femminile. Ecco la qualità particolare che ho apprezzato in questo romanzo: la capacità di narrare i piccoli moti quotidiani dell’anima, le attività e le esperienze della ...more
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ELIZABETH STROUT is the author of several novels, including: Abide with Me, a national bestseller and BookSense pick, and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. In 2009 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her book Olive Kitteri ...more
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“But what could you do? Only keep going. People kept going; they had been doing it for thousands of years. You took the kindness offered, letting it seep as far in as it could go, and the remaining dark crevices you carried around with you, knowing that over time they might change into something almost bearable.” 28 likes
“The evenings grew longer; kitchen windows stayed open after dinner and peepers could be heard in the marsh. Isabelle, stepping out to sweep her porch steps, felt absolutely certain that some wonderful change was arriving in her life. The strength of this belief was puzzling; what she was feeling, she decided, was really the presence of God.” 6 likes
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