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Amy and Isabelle

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  14,892 Ratings  ·  1,677 Reviews
In her stunning first novel Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout evokes a teenager's alienation from her distant mother—and a parent's rage at the discovery of her daughter's sexual secrets. In most ways, Isabelle and Amy are like any mother and her 16-year-old daughter, a fierce mix of love and loathing exchanged in their every glance. And eating, sleeping, and working side ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 1st 2000 by Vintage (first published 1998)
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Orsodimondo
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
UN GUSTO SUPERIORE
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.

description
Elisabeth Shue (Isabelle) e Hanna Hall (Amy) nel TV movie omonimo d
...more
Alena
Jan 18, 2016 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
...more
Elyse
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's an excruciatingly hot summer.....so 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 ...one that will jeopardize a smooth free-flowing relationship with her
...more
Caroline
***NO SPOILERS***

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
...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Elizabeth
Jan 31, 2016 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.

Recommended.

Peter Boyle
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was Elizabeth Strout's debut novel, and it's remarkable to see how assured her voice already is. Her trademark ability to document the trials and tribulations of ordinary people is in full flight here, marking her out as a singular talent, long before she went on to win a Pulitzer.

This story focuses on Isabelle, a single mother in the small American town of Shirley Falls, and her sixteen-year-old daughter Amy. Isabelle is self-conscious and lonely, isolating herself from her co-workers at t
...more
Gabril
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ancora una volta accendo cinque stelle per Elizabeth Strout.
Questa è la sua prima pubblicazione, incredibilmente esemplare, assolutamente matura.
Intorno alla storia di una madre (Isabelle) e una figlia adolescente (Amy) si muove un mondo di personaggi minori ma necessari, descritti con perizia sullo sfondo di una piccola città americana di provincia, un ambiente tratteggiato con pennellate sicure. L’attenzione ai particolari apparentemente irrilevanti, ma sui quali si condensano distillati di
...more
Dolors
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Joanna
Nov 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
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,
...more
Heather
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
flaminia
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
caldo, tanto e soffocante.
donne, di varie età; possono starti più o meno simpatiche, puoi sentirtele più o meno affini o vicine, ma anche quella più defilata e ai margini della storia ha un suo perché.
uomini, anche loro di varie età, tutti - tranne il bidello - facenti parte della categoria 71, o omm 'e mmerd che dir si voglia.
e poi perbenismo di facciata, inquietudini, bugie, illusioni, solitudini, conflitti.
così come la dico io pare una telenovela di quelle col doppiaggio fuori sincrono; così
...more
Natalie Richards
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-book
4.5 stars. Another great read from this wonderful writer.
Arwen56
Feb 18, 2017 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.
Marica
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americani
Guscio di cemento
E’ un libro che ho apprezzato di più dopo un po’ di tempo, dopo aver dimenticato che durante la lettura si soffre abbastanza, pensando alla vita sprecata di Isabelle e alla solitudine di entrambe.
Vita in cittadina americana di provincia, dove disinvoltura e mondanità sono molto più lontane di Los Angeles e New York. Il successo di una ragazza è dettato dall’essere “popolare” a scuola, definizione fuorviante, dato che popolare significa essere ricercata, bella, probabilmente ric
...more
piperitapitta
«Un altro splendido giorno è passato»

In un'estate torrida e soffocante scorrono a Shirley Falls, immaginaria cittadina della provincia del New England, lente e monotone le vite di Isabelle e Amy, una madre sola e una figlia adolescente.
Sembrano immobili le vite a Shirley Falls, sembrano seguire ognuna un proprio corso predestinato, un cammino che assomiglia più ad un volo, come quello che tante farfalle fanno ciascuna intorno ad un suo punto immaginario.
Vola intorno a se stessa Isabelle, una don
...more
Laura
This was Elizabeth Strout's first novel. I think if I had started off by reading this, instead of Olive Kitteridge, I may have liked it more. I'm not sure, though. Maybe I'd have been turned off and never given this author another try. That would have been a mistake. Olive was wonderful; I loved it. Her second novel, Abide with Me was also very good, and I highly recommend it.

I think the reason this one missed the mark for me is that: 1) My expectations were really high, because of those two no
...more
Sandra
Aug 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
H.A. Leuschel
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an excellent and extremely thought-provoking book about the difficult topic of pedophilia, difficult here because the man's actions as well as Amy's (who is sixteen, a child in an adult's body and eager to break out of a stale and suffocating mother-daughter relationship) manage to cleverly blur the overall picture regarding what is right and wrong in their involvement with each other. I don't want to spoil the story by saying too much but I thought it was a powerful portrayal about why ...more
Imi
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
Lauren
May 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Irene
Aug 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Miya
Nov 15, 2007 rated it did not like it
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...
cristina c
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bella lettura e bella rappresentazione del mondo femminile nelle sue 3 età , come in un quadro di Klimt.
L'adolescenza di Amy con l'insofferenza, qui ben giustificata, verso il modello materno, l'amicizia esclusiva col proprio sesso, la sensazione di inadeguatezza verso il mondo, il timido interesse per l'altro sesso che all'improvviso divampa.
L'età intermedia di Isabelle, con le insicurezze che l'età non ha mitigato, accentuate dallo sguardo impietoso della figlia adolescente. E la voglia di p
...more
Sandra
Sep 11, 2012 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
Celeste Ng
One of the best books I've ever read--beautifully composed and executed. My husband hesitated when I told him to read it. "Are you sure this isn't a women's book?" he asked. I assured him it wasn't, he did read it, and he saw what I meant. Though nearly all the characters are women, and a mother-daughter relationship is at the heart of the novel, the book touches on the universal instead: the relationships between parents and children, the difficulties of communicating with those we love best. A ...more
Bruno
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
...more
Sara
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La tecnica del Kintsugi

In Giappone, quando un oggetto di ceramica si rompe lo si ripara con dell'oro. Questa tecnica si chiama "Kintsugi", letteralmente "riparare con l'oro". La pratica nasce dall'idea che dall'imperfezione e da una ferita possa nascere una forma ancora maggiore di perfezione estetica e interiore (grazie Wikipedia).
Quella crepa, che potrebbe essere considerata la rovina di tutto, viene esaltata, a tal punto che è ciò che rende l'oggetto riparato unico e bellissimo.
Questa immagin
...more
Cheri
Aug 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
“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
...more
Erika
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
...more
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3,600 followers
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
“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.” 31 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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