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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  56 ratings  ·  27 reviews
A sweeping and enchanting new novel from the widely beloved, award-winning author Elizabeth McCracken about three generations of an unconventional New England family who own and operate a candlepin bowling alley

From the day she is discovered unconscious in a New England cemetery at the turn of the twentieth century—nothing but a bowling ball, a candlepin, and fifteen pound
ebook, 384 pages
Expected publication: February 5th 2019 by Ecco
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Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A sprawling delight. Like reading John Irving circa Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire, but written by a woman.
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
**** 1/2

Love, love, love Elizabeth McCracken and have been waiting for this one. Solid read but I wanted more Bertha.
Tyler Goodson
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
What a big, sprawling novel this is. It reads like an anecdotal history of a bowling alley, and the family who starts it, grows with it, and feels trapped by it. It’s about the farthest branches of a family tree and the stories we tell about them. But the best part is McCracken’s writing—every few pages a line or a passage will sneak up on you and knock your socks off.
Ericka Seidemann
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
Spoon River Anthology meets Cold Comfort Farm in this quirky story of a family-owned candlepin bowling alley that spans generations. There is a whisper of magical realism with a hefty dose of down-to-earth wisdom. 

At the turn of the 20th century, Bertha Truitt, described as matronly and jowly,  wearing a split skirt, is found lying face down in the local cemetery. She sits up and explains that she's the inventor of candlepin bowling. The townspeople are perplexed and mesmerized by Bertha Truitt
Becky Spratford
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I reviewed this for my ALA Annual 2018 Booklist Read ’N’ Rave Panel. Details:
Brenda Ayala
Jan 13, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shelf-awareness
My first novel from McCracken, and probably my last if the others are like this.

“Sprawling” is the best word for this book. It spans like 15 different lives, all stemming from one bowling alley in Massachusetts in the late 1800s. It’s weirdly untethered despite everyone being related in some way to each other, and I found myself getting more and more bored as the book went on.

There just isn’t a point. I’ve had this same reaction to books like this before and had I known that Bowlaway wouldn’t
Nov 27, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was an ARC I received from a publisher. I had loved one of Elizabeth McCracken's short story collections (Thunderstruck) so I thought I would enjoy this book. However, it turned into one of those slogs that I ended up forcing myself to power through.

I don't know how to describe this novel because it made no sense to me, but the story mostly revolves around a bowling alley in a small New England town. The bowling alley is founded by the mysterious Bertha Truitt. Eventually it is run by her s
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth McCracken can make a sentence sing, and this book is a chorus. This is a big book, full of vibrant characters and moments of stunning insight.
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Super quirky page turner. Really enjoyed it. Someone else said it's not for everyone, which is true, but, if you like quirky stories, this is a great one.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bertha Truitt is discovered in a wintry graveyard in a small town in Massachusetts. She seemed to have been dropped there with a Gladstone bag containing a bowling ball, a candlepin, and some gold. Was she dead or alive thought the young groundskeeper? A passing, well-dressed but foreign looking man, who happens to be a doctor, ascertains that Bertha is indeed alive. From this strange beginning a story of a bowling family dynasty unfolds. Each character is more peculiar than the last and all hav ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction

I've been desperately waiting for a new novel from Elizabeth McCracken for 16 years, and I'm thrilled to report it was well worth the wait. I always hesitate to call her books charming--though this is always the first word that comes to mind--because they are also utterly lacking in the cloying sentimentality typical of so-called charming books. Some writers you read for plot, others for their characters, others for their beautifully crafted sentences. McCracken is astonishingly good at all thre
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: x-read-in-2018
In this epic, multi-generational saga of a family that owns a candlepin bowling alley, the reader can see Elizabeth McCracken at her best. From quirky characters to humorous turns of phrase we are carried along through the years and the various owners of this business around which the community turns. Bertha Truitt, the founder and family matriarch is one of the greatest characters ever! I wish she could have stayed a little longer.

I had no idea where this book was going and there were lots of
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. I wanted to like this book. But it was just *too* quirky for me, in a way that made it feel like it was trying to be.

There were moments of real feeling, and where it managed to convey deep unsettling emotions of the realities of life. It had decently portrayed characters. And the story, or the very intertwined stories, was/were overall good.

And yet...there was somehow both too much and too little at the same time. I almost stopped reading several times, and while I'm glad I didn't, I
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Like all of McCraken's novels - the characters in "Bowlaway" are fresh, eclectic and curiously likeable. This book spans two generations of related and unrelated folks and their connection to local icon Bertha Truitt - a unique lady who mysteriousl arrives in a small town in Massachusetts and brings candlepin bowling to the community.

One odd turn after another and decades pass slowly to reveal the stories of all the remaining folks in town.
Maggie Holmes
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: didn-t-finish, prepub
The language in this book is exquisite. I highlighted several sentences and read aloud several more. However, the characters were not fully developed and did not show much growth. As a reader who values the characters, this was disappointing. I'm not sure who I would recommend this to. I liked the Molasses Flood reference, but it was just sort of thrown in there.
James Beggarly
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A big, humorous novel, by a writer who always writes with loads of joy. A hundred years in a bowling alley in a small town outside of Boston. An amazing array of characters find their way into the pages in this always amusing and fascinating book.
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book in a giveaway.

3.5 In early 1900s Massachusetts, a woman mysteriously appears in a cemetery, brings candlepin bowling to town by opening a bowling alley, and affects various lives over many years. Odd, funny, historical, modern, drags a bit at times.
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Received an ARC of this book, to be published in 2019. Quirky (my favorite word), sometimes jumbled up, as most family histories are.
Carol Ann
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
The adventures of the unconventional Truitt family set forth here is one heck of a ride. McCracken is such a wonderful writer, try The Giant's House and Thunderstruck, I'm a fan.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read the ARC of Bowlaway and enjoyed the quirky characters and Truitt saga. Bertha Truitt was fascinating as were those her life touched. I wanted to see the octagon house for myself and, who knows, bowling might be in my future.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it
A strange story of secrets and dysfunction. They always go together.
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
Strange and wonderful and full of larger-than-life characters. It’s almost like someone dared the author to come up with an epic about bowling, and she succeeded with aplomb. I don’t think it’s for everyone, but readers who appreciate quirkiness—and bowling—will love it.
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Cute abd quirky but it meanders a bit too much at times.
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quirky and totally original, BOWLAWAY is an entertaining read that will have you itching to go to your local bowling alley, even if you can’t try candlestick bowling. At the sentence level, this novel is a pure delight. Elizabeth McCracken’s vocabulary and style had me wanting to underline sections every few pages. Fiction writers will especially appreciate this story.
Wendy Cosin
I received a free Advance Reader Copy of this novel, which will be published in February 2019. Bowlaway is a whimsical story with quirky characters. It is enjoyable, but I was much more engaged with the beginning stories about Bertha Truitt than I was with characters that came later in the book. It is mostly about white, working class people beginning in the early 1900's. I appreciate that the novel included an African-American doctor as an important character and a gay man. This is not a novel ...more
Emily McDonald
rated it it was amazing
Oct 11, 2018
Karen Reinowski
rated it it was ok
Nov 17, 2018
Angie Johnson
Aug 11, 2018 marked it as to-read
Shelves: arcs
ARC provided by the publisher Ecco/Harper Collins, via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Diane Payne
rated it liked it
Dec 08, 2018
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the Goodreads database.

Elizabeth McCracken (born 1966) is an American author. She is married to the novelist Edward Carey, with whom she has two children - August George Carey Harvey and Matilda Libby Mary Harvey. An earlier child died before birth, an experience which formed the basis for McCracken's memoir, An Exact Replica of a Figme
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“What a thing, to marry into a family! What could be more perilous? And yet people did it all the time. They married and had children, every child a portmanteau, a mythical beast, a montage.” 0 likes
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