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The School on Heart's Content Road (Heart's Content #1)

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3.06  ·  Rating Details ·  288 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
Carolyn Chute has been heralded as a passionate voice of the underclass, earning comparisons to William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Flannery O’Connor. Now, Chute returns to the unforgettable town of Egypt, Maine, and delivers a rousing, politically charged portrait of another group of lives on the margins of our society.

The School on Heart’s Content Road begins with the
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Audio CD, 18 pages
Published November 1st 2008 by Brilliance Audio (first published July 8th 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 646)
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karen
Aug 13, 2015 karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
donald harington has ruined so many books for me simply by being a better writer than other writers. so when i read something like this, i am forced to obsess over the many ways this could have been better if his gentle hands were still with us...

occasionally, when i was reading this one, i was thinking of when angels rest, which is the closest harington ever came to writing a "war novel." in that one, WWII is brought close to home as the children of stay more, already engaging in "war games" in
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Sarah
May 25, 2010 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth book in a series of loosely connected novels that charts the lives of several families over several generations in and around Egypt, Maine. (I think Egypt Maine is a fictional town, but it reminds me a great deal of Mexico, Maine, which, for folks who haven't travelled that far down US Rt 2, is a small papermill town in the southern interior of Maine). Ms. Chute writes about what she is familiar with- the intense insularity of rural poverty, the inarticulate passions (love, fr ...more
David
Feb 02, 2009 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A handful of pages in and I can already tell that I am going to love this book!

[UPDATE} So I finally finished The School on Heart's Content Road this weekend and it did indeed turn out to be one of the best books I have read in a while.

The book describes the St Onge. Settlement - a commune led by their "prophet" Gordie St. Onge and his wives and the people of rural Maine who come into contact with them (a right-of-center Militia leader Rex York; Mickey Gammon, a local teenager forced to leave ho
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Danielle
Jan 22, 2009 Danielle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As if reading Apples and Oranges wasn't bad enough I get to follow it up with this horrible book. It is a novel set in some small town called Egypt, Maine. It's just plain boring. Unless I guess you're really into militias in which case even then it's probably really boring. Basically there is some compound led by some prophet, who doesn't think he's God or anything but hates the government and creates a co-op settlement where all these people live and subsist. He also has a bunch of wives, whic ...more
Kelly
Much proselitizing going on here. I read the NY Times review and interview with Chute before I read the book, and I'll concede that it might have clouded my perception. At heart, the book is really focusing on the fact that we all have prejudices despite our best intentions. But, Chute lost me with her soapboxing about the miliita, the demise of education, the injustices the government inflicts upon its people, etc. I felt like I was reading a manifesto on cults and sects and why they are good. ...more
Manek
Feb 18, 2009 Manek rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointing. I found it slow and repetitive, and completely lacking in structure. I loved her early books, and was excited at the beginning of this one... but it dragged, and didn't go anywhere.
Pamela
Feb 13, 2015 Pamela rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's been 8 days since I started this book and I'm on page 120 ... I give up. If a book can't hold my attention for more than ten minutes at a time, it's not the book I should be reading right now.
Back in the 1980's I read Chute's The Beans of Egypt, Maine and loved it, so I was really looking forward to reading this one. However, at page 120 the author is still introducing characters and literally nothing has happened in terms of a story: wait. That's not entirely true. The militia has shot s
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Bookmarks Magazine

Carolyn Chute's sympathetic portrayals of the rural poor evoked comparisons to Faulkner, Steinbeck, and Upton Sinclair. Yet despite her strong main characters and keen insights, critics varied in their reactions: some felt overwhelmed by Chute's pervasive antiestablishment views, while others embraced, or were at least able to overlook, her polemics. Chute's unconventional language, profusion of characters (although she does provide a full character list), and multiple narrators

Franny
Jan 16, 2016 Franny rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is beyond bizarre! I had heard Chute compared to Steinbeck, so was prepared for a pragmatic yet sympathetic story about poverty. Instead, we are given a dysfunctional family: Britta, her three children by three different men, Erika the second wife of the eldest son, her two children from her first marriage and their dying toddler - along with a "settlement" of equally dysfunctional people apparently bound together by their inability to get along in the "real" world. Chute's writing is ...more
Mussy Schold
Reading this book gave made me feel a bit uncomfortable, as if this were a scene for a bad science fiction movie.

As the School on Heart's Content Road sucks in people (mostly women) who have been met with unfortunate circumstances to mate and propagate with the compound's leader, they build together a community separate from the greater world. Many of the concepts of the community ring out the trends of the early 21st century - sustainable farming, renewable energy, the importance of education.
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Laura
Sep 16, 2009 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book would focus more on the rural poor. Instead, it focused more on militias and inter- and intra-family drama. The characters were not consistently or sufficiently developed throughout the novel. I was left with the feeling that I do not want to visit rural, militia Maine. I felt that my urban way of life is judged, not just by the characters, but by the author as well.
Kyrie
Jul 23, 2016 Kyrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't define what it is about her style that makes me really like her books. I don't usually like the characters, or agree with what they're doing, and yet, when I come across Chute's novels, I always want to read them.

This story about The Settlement (a kind of commune in Maine) is more likeable than the Bean stories.

Gordon St. Onge is the leader, but a gentle one, and his family makes furniture, candles, solar powered vehicles, you name it. It's the weirdest cross between going back to the l
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Janyce Murray
Jan 20, 2016 Janyce Murray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I became acquainted with Carolyn Chute many years ago when I read and was blown away by The Beans of Egypt Maine. I've read all of the books she's written since; all about the down-and-out residents of rural, western Maine. Though interesting, none of them had quite the impact of the first book. This story, also set in Egypt, is about a misunderstood polygamous commune and the struggling characters who are connected to it. As usual, her characters are complicated - victims of their environment a ...more
B.A.
Aug 19, 2014 B.A. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book...but that didn't come as a surprise. I've read all of Chute's novels and while I adored this one, it was a little different to the others. Maybe it has more in common with her _Snowman_ novel...it's political and hard hitting, but it delivers its message using the characters who live in Egypt, Maine. It's brilliantly written and rather than using chapters as defining units, she instead uses icons with each icon often heralding in a new voice.

I so hope that Chute is still writ
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Jaffa
Feb 18, 2009 Jaffa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Novel or manifesto? Who knows?
Judy
Sep 28, 2010 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Knowing the author from her book "The Beans of Egypt, Maine," I wanted to try this one. Being obsessive, I probably would have given it 3.5 stars. It held my interest and I was always anxious to get back to it. A 15-year-old dropout is evicted from the home of his half-brother, seemingly unfairly, as the boy seems to be trying to help support the struggling family as best he can. For a while he sets up camp in a tree house in the woods until he's drawn into two local groups, one a militia-type o ...more
Travis
Aug 15, 2009 Travis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I lack the time to seriously review this work. This story is the first of five parts of a much larger work Carolyn has been developing over the course of several years, and it is one of the best tales i've read in a long time. The School on Heart's Content Road will appeal to anyone who's the slightest bit suspicious of programming, indoctrination, mainstream media, law, or the false dichotomies of left vs. right. The story is told through the eyes of many familiar characters (birds, television, ...more
Ann
Apr 12, 2010 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Carolyn Chute. This was a big experimental book--many characters, many voices (including the voice of TV and the voice of Mammon). While the Beans of Egypt, Maine remains my favorite book, this one was really exceptional. She humanized people (in this case members of the Maine Militia) who are left out of most mainstream media discussions. She reveals the inner life of kids in a way that is both respectful and believable. I love her work. It took me a long time to finish this book b/c I r ...more
Lori
Sep 23, 2009 Lori rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009september
When my husband asked, "Haven't you been reading that book awhile?" at the dinner table this week, he probably could've told you my review wasn't going to be incredibly positive.

It's not always an indication -- because sometimes life gets in the way -- but you can often tell how much I like a book by how quickly I plow through it. I inched through School on Heart's Content Road for more than two weeks, an eternity for a reader like me.

I had no idea what the book was going to be about. I'd seen a
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Paul Long
Feb 07, 2012 Paul Long rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book about working class people and what happens when life gets cruel and changes around them. Chute understands her people, and how they are misunderstood -- either deliberately or through ignorance -- by the media and those in positions of power.

Chute has a deft hand for her characters, and for description -- some of which are absolutely breathtaking. Take this line, for instance: "Late-afternoon sun, autumnly and solid and cold as a refrigerated peach, roams entirely to the other
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Bree Taylor
May 29, 2015 Bree Taylor rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I have no idea how I managed to finish this book. Despite a character list at the back of the book, I found I didn't care in the slightest about the many characters and I couldn't keep all the wives straight.

The story line with Mickey's family was built up with a barely mentioned conclusion. Same with Jane's family.

I would NOT recommend this and I'm not entirely sure if reading the sequel.
Jeff
Feb 18, 2011 Jeff rated it really liked it
I really love Carolyn Chute, even though she always makes me painfully aware of how really screwed up things are. This is another of her very political books focused on the lives of the backwoods underclass in rural Maine. She's definitely treading on familiar ground here, though she adopts a style of ordering her story that is a departure for her and works brilliantly. I think she does an excellent job of presenting her politics without being preachy, though i'm sure others would disagree. And ...more
Nicolemauerman
The characters in this story are highly believable. The story (there are actually about five different stories, five main characters whose lives all intersect) takes place in rural Maine involving people living in a communal settlement and developing militias (or associations with militias). Having spent the last three years in Idaho I can attest that these disparate people do exist, and their lives are probably very similar to that described within this book. I don’t know if that’s why this was ...more
Carolanne
why did I read this book?

I picked it up for 95 cents at a thrift store. I had read her earlier book .... I think it's called The Beans of Egypt Maine (?). anyway, I read it years, possibly decades, ago. I thought I'd enjoyed it back then.

PROS:
•Chute has some very clever wording and sentence structure strategies

CONS:
•It's just not interesting to me. :(
• I'll need to file this one on the "didn't finish" shelf. I thought it was ME, but Naw....I just can't get into this book. period.

VERDICT:
her wr
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Carrie
Feb 24, 2013 Carrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always loved Carolyn Chute's books, despite the fact that they are often panned by Mainers like myself, especially those with Bean's in their family tree. This book was no exception. It felt like going home. I know these people, every one of them. The super conservative militant types, the way-out-there liberal peace lovers, and everyone in between. I love the way it was written, the many points of view, and overall picture it gave you. And I love the ending, no spoilers though. Only reason ...more
Sundry
Jan 23, 2009 Sundry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I love the unusual construction of this book. I had no preconceptions going into it, except that I enjoyed her first couple of books, which I read when they came out.

It dragged a little in the last quarter as Chute allows her Prophet to speak his mind without constraint and my favorite characters, the six-year-old Jane and the fifteen-year-old Mickey fall silent for a dozen pages or more. The climax wasn't what I expected it to be, but that may not be a failure, it may be Chute's point.

For the m
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Deidre
May 13, 2009 Deidre rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for the promise of the tale. Her writing style was very frustrating at times and I didn't enjoy the symbols inserted throughout. Though the character list at the end helped me to keep track of the various story lines, almost one too many threads to really develop. I am starving for good fiction about compounds, communes, alternative communities, living off the grid, pologamist relationships and the like. (Its my Big LOVE phase). This book tried to fill that hunger. The character ...more
Jayne
Nov 15, 2008 Jayne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not sure about this one - she is preaching for sure - especially given the autobio info I know about her. I do not object to her position - just that it is too overt and too much! She is clever in pointing out that the very situation we may- in our self righteous indignant mind sets- be trying to end - in our response to militias and fundamentalist religious communes - we are practicing the same narrow tolerance that these groups are. This is not put very well. The bottom line is that I really d ...more
Susan
Apr 26, 2014 Susan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Simply put: worst book I've ever read. I always finish books, even if I don't love one. But I just couldn't this time. 100 pages of poorly written anti-establishment ranting was my limit.
Steve
May 20, 2016 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The relentlessly disjointed succession of headlined short sections told from shifting perspectives -- a few paragraphs, sometimes as short as a single sentence -- worked hard against narrative cohesion, at least for me. The community fascinated, there were characters who made me laugh, others who made me grit my teeth, still others that lent sharp and revealing light to types I have only known in fiction and which Carolyn Chute portrayed as vividly as I've read them in others' books. But. The au ...more
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Chute's first, and best known, novel, The Beans of Egypt, Maine, was published in 1985 and made into a 1994 film of the same name, directed by Jennifer Warren. Chute's next two books, Letourneau's Used Auto Parts (1988) and Merry Men (1994), are also set in the town of Egypt, Maine.

Chute also speaks out publicly about class issues in America and publishes "The Fringe," a monthly collection of in-d
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More about Carolyn Chute...

Other Books in the Series

Heart's Content (2 books)
  • Treat Us Like Dogs and We Will Become Wolves

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