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Any Bitter Thing

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,966 Ratings  ·  313 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
Paperback, 356 pages
Published April 25th 2006 by Ballantine Books (first published 2005)
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Karen It's a phrase from a Biblical quotation (Proverbs 27:7): "A sated (full) man loathes honey, but to a famished (hungry) man any bitter thing is sweet."…moreIt's a phrase from a Biblical quotation (Proverbs 27:7): "A sated (full) man loathes honey, but to a famished (hungry) man any bitter thing is sweet." The main character, a high school guidance counselor, indirectly refers to this quote to explain to a student why abused children often tolerate mistreatment -- because it comes from people who are all they have ever known of love.(less)
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Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
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 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 20, 2008 rated it liked it
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!
Oct 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Had never heard this book & now can't wait to share it with book-loving friends.
I loved the author's prose. There are many 'time hops' in the story but most are designated by chapter. Characters and themes (religion, marriage, friendship)are handled with lots of 'gray areas' - no one and nothing is black & white. Really liked this aspect of the novel.
There are a couple plot twists/surprizes that make the last third of the book hard to put down.
Going to read more by this author!
Nov 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
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 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Valerie Hoff
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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!
Pamela ciccolini
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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!!
Mar 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 11, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Melissa Forbes
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Exquisite. Wood chooses every single word with care, and the structure is astounding. Better yet, it's a great story. A supremely good novel.
Ayelet Waldman
I seem not to be able to get enough of these dark and gloomy east coast winter novels...
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Having read "The One-in-a-Million-Boy" several weeks ago, I set out to read everything Monica Wood has written. "Any Bitter Thing" is her third novel, published in 2005, which includes many of the same themes of love, loss, regret, and hope.

Lizzy Mitchell was raised from the age of two by her uncle, Father Mike, a beloved Catholic priest in a small town in Maine, after her parents were killed in a plane crash. Their life together is filled with warmth and love, her delight in simple pleasures, a
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
This is another excellent story by the author of “The One-in-a-Million Boy,” Monica Wood, who is probably my new favorite author for now.

The novel’s beginning plunges us right into action as the main character, Lizzy Mitchell, describes a hit-and-run auto accident she was involved in after an argument with her husband. Lying near death in the hospital, she believes she hears the voice of her beloved late uncle, a Catholic priest she calls Father Mike.

In the subsequent chapters, we learn that F
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the second book I've read by Monica Wood and she is a beautiful writer. Her characters become someone you would recognize if you bumped into them at the local. Interesting twists as well as many thought provoking questions as to where is the line of helping, of hurting, of law, of intentions to be helpful, of the many times we assume something when it just isn't true. A thought provoker...
Linda Johnson
Apr 10, 2010 rated it did not like it
I love a good descriptive sentence or two, but throughout this book I felt like I was in a flurry of words, like a heavy snowfall, and had to search for the story line. Often, a new chapter would be about a different person, in a different time, without letting you know that something had changed. It was confusing. I felt like I was dragging myself through this book. On top of all that, it was a depressing story.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like Monica wood's writing style. It's almost prose-like, but rarely feels too flowery. I can tell she fights to choose the perfect word in every sentence. Why say "walked" when you can say "ambled"?

I started with The One-in-a-Million Boy, her most recent book, and after reading this, one of her earlier works, I see how she has grown and developed as a writer. This book seemed to take a bit too long to get to and from various plot developments, but every character was well-constructed i
Marsha Dawson
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting story, but a bit long and too convoluted. I almost gave up on it, not compelling.
Sheri Ward
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent novel, beautifully written!
Barbara Hawley
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very memorable; reads like poetry. I loved it.
3 1/2 because it had a good ending.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Period. Picked it up on a recommendation from a used book store...never would have read it otherwise. Great book!!
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Monica Wood is the author of four works of fiction, most recently The One-in-a-Million-Boy, which won a 2017 Nautilus Award (Gold) and the 2017 fiction prize from the New England Society in the City of New York. She also is the author of 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 fictio ...more
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“because I know the difference between preaching and anesthesia.” 2 likes
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