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The Rope Walk

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  948 ratings  ·  193 reviews
The Rope Walk brings us the dazzling story of a pivotal summer in the life of Alice, a redheaded tomboy and motherless girl who is beloved and protected by her five older brothers and her widower father, a professor of Shakespeare. On Memorial Day, at her tenth birthday party in the garden of her Vermont village home, Alice meets two people unlike any she’s known before. T ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Pantheon
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Book on CD narrated by Elaina Erica Davis.

This coming-of-age novel opens on Memorial Day. Alice McCauley is the youngest child, having five older brothers who dote on and protect her. Her father is a Shakespeare scholar at the local college; her mother died when Alice was a baby. On the morning of her tenth birthday, she senses that her world is about the change. At her party Alice meets two people unlike any she’s known to date. Theo is the bi-racial, New York City kid who has come to this smal
Jun 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
So I know that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but to profit from that is pretty corrupt. This book tries to knock off To Kill a Mockingbird so blantly that I cannot believe it was published. The plot mimics TKAM well. A quirky, tall tale telling boy comes to visit for the summer in a small quaint town where the main character's family shun phones and tv and they get into mischief. The mischief is notoriously bland and leaves you feeling like you just ate a dry cracker when you had be ...more
Jun 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carrie Brown is such a fabulous writer. Every sentence is so perfected. And the story as a whole is--as I try to think of what to say here, I am actually forming my hands into the shape of a snow globe--as if I were carefully holding a beautiful, fragile thing. That is what Carrie Brown's story is. 10-yr. old Alice's inner life is so real and recognizable. It is to Brown's credit that she can remember (for she must) and recapture that in a novel. Alice's summer friend, Theo, is a wonderful chara ...more
May 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Finished this one awhile back. It's a slow start but a good read. As the main character (whose name is now totally forgotten to me) turns ten, she experiences a summer that changes her life and brings her out of innocence and into a painful understanding of the complexities of the world.

Two strangers come to town: Theo (I don't know why I remember his name but not hers) ends up living with the girl and her family after his grandmother, a close friend and neighbor, suffers a stroke. Theo is hal
Jul 04, 2011 rated it liked it
An "assigned" book for me, as our book club is to discuss this later in the month. Because most of the action takes place during the summer, this is a good season in which to read it. In the small Vermont town of Grange, Alice, the protagonist, is celebrating her 10th birthday as the book opens. And suddenly nothing is quite like it has been before.... her five older brothers are about to take off again for the summer (most already are out of the house, in college, anyway) but at her party, Alic ...more
It wasn't until my book group discussed this book that I realized why I liked it so much. It is really To Kill A Mockingbird in many ways. Yes, I know there is not so much about race relations and Archie is certainly no Atticus, but Brown really has written an homage to Scout and her story.

This is not a bad thing. Many authors have been influenced by Harper Lee and her amazing book. Many authors have written wonderful coming of age stories. And we need to add Carrie Brown to that list of writers
Iowa City Public Library
The Rope Walk by Carrie Brown is a wonderful journey with two ten-year-olds, Alice and Theo, during their summer break in New England. Left alone for many hours, they begin a friendship with a cosmopolitan neighbor, Kenneth, who has returned home to convalesce. Alice and Theo’s affection for Kenneth lead them to create a rope walk for his enjoyment of the nearby woods where Kenneth spent a lot of time as a child. But just as rope sometimes unravels, good intentions lead to unexpected consequence ...more
Jul 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Ellen
No one writes descriptions like Carrie Brown. When I read her books, I have to pause and think about how beautifully she has described the trees after a rain, or the way the sunlight comes through a window or any number of things. The Rope Walk abounds with such descriptions and I reveled in reading them.

Reading about Alice and Theo, I was reminded of those long summers of childhood that I had consigned to the back of my mind. Playing outside all day, getting dirty and sweaty, waking up in the m
Apr 08, 2009 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Spare yourselves !
Shelves: fiction
This is one of those books you either really like or really dislike - personally , I really disliked it . The story was lacking depth. It was hidden behind never-ending sentences and flowery discriptions that lost my attention . I wanted to sharpie marker through all of the author's " like ..." 's and " as if ...." 's !
Patrick Barry
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Two motherless 11 year olds are at the center of this novel. Shortly after Alice was born, her mother died in a horse riding accident. Alice is beloved by her five brothers and her father Archie, but the world of her childhood is disappearing and she is slowly getting drawn into the more dangerous world of adults. Theo is biracial and comes to Alice's Vermont town because his mother has been hospitalized with depression. He is staying at his grandparents who are good friends with Archie. When Th ...more
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book grew on me. As one reviewer wrote Every sentence is so perfected. That was my initial problem with the book. The author was trying too hard to come up with the perfect analogy, description, narrative. But once I got over that I could not put the book down.
The story begins with Alice, living with her father and five brothers in a big farmhouse in Vermont on her tenth Birthday. She has led a kind of sheltered life in that she is vaguely aware of events in the world at large but mostly he
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book out of curiosity, mainly owing to the fact that the author is one of my English professors at college and a wonderful woman. I wasn't sure what to expect from the book, but I was excited to see more of the author side of Carrie Brown than what she showed in the classroom. The Rope Walk is a summer novel in the most pure and undiluted sense of the phrase. It transports you into Alice's life handles a growing up and loss of innocence with the naiveté and candor of a young chi ...more
Jun 10, 2020 rated it liked it
It's really hard for me to decide between 3 and 4 stars for this book. I loved the gorgeous language, and the descriptions were incredibly vivid. I could smell exactly how the world smelled in this story. But Alice, whose life we experience over a summer, could not possibly have had all these deep and meaningful insights. She was only 10! There were other things I loved: the way here brothers treated her and helped her, and how they helped at the Fitzgerald home. And the way Archie could quote S ...more
Carolyn S
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wonderful Vermont writer who shows you the compassion of two ten year old kids that help a man with aids live and die. Lots of feels in this book. The unfairness of being good looking and having a sister that is not good looking. Being half Black and getting shunned by your White grandparents. Going through a divorce along with your mom and dad. Losing a mom you never really met. But regardless of the unhappiness two kids make a miracle happen and share a lot in one summer. Plus is your life tha ...more
Mariah Hanson
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This author has the talent to write lyrical prose but it’s overdone throughout the nook so for me it was distracting from the story until the end when her prose became infused with mastery. The end was as. Good a read as any master I’ve read — not the story — just the writing. The story didn’t work for me at all. Hard to believe ten year olds feel the stirrings of romantic love in the way the author described. It just felt like she was trying to heal with s lot of themes and so didn’t deal with ...more
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
My only complaint was that it ended very abruptly and kind of left you just hanging there...ugh!! My first book by this author who captivated me instantly from the first page with her vivid descriptions of persons and places, I couldn't hardly put it down! Centers around a motherless little girl named Alice, her best friend Theo, her less than loving Dad Archie, and her five older brothers. Her dear friend Kenneth had a special love and care for her also. It took me on wonderful journeys-highly ...more
Aug 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I usually don't care for coming of age stories, but this is an exception, I think because it did not involve romance, trauma/abuse, or triangulation. I appreciated the inter-generational friendship, the evocative narration, and sense of self developed by the main character. I did find the technological disconnect confusing and unbelievable and at times times the fictional Grange was too idyllic, like a Stars Hollow without the commentary and sarcasm of the Gilmores.
Isaak Brown
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, but generous to 4. Really beautiful writing, some stunning lines. But the author seemed a little enamored with her skill - way too many tangents that didn't enrich the story, and the detailed writing got bogged down by the 3/4 mark. That said, some really gems in the pile, just wish it had less pile.
Edie Light
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Audio - I loved this book. It was hard to get into at first but the author captured the coming of age of two 10 year olds. I had forgotten what it felt like until she wrote about it. The story is about Alice and Theo and their reading Lewis and Clark to Kenneth, a man with Aids. Excellent, excellent book.
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked this book more and more as I got into it. The writing is lovely, but you'll need to enjoy hearing in great detail a child's view of her world. The characters are great, but I must say I don't think that the way Alice's dad acted during a pivotal moment fit with his character.
Robbi Portela
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, very thoughtfully written! I hope to read more Carrie Brown creations soon!
Jess DiGregorio
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Throughly captures the magic of a childhood while exposing the dark sides of modern adulthood
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
I never saw the point
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a wonderfully written coming of age book. Though not listed as YA, this would be a great book for middle school kids.
Jun 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I liked it, but didn’t love it and I’m not sure why. The characters are very rich and sympathetic. I will continue thinking of that little girl for quite some time!
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Her device of story telling at first put me off. There would be a sentence advancing the plot, followed by memories and impressions and associations in Alice’s mind. The omniscient author constantly told us what Alice thought and felt. The descriptions and imagery were beautiful but at first struck me as excessive. I came to enjoy it more.
Cricket Muse
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Despite the obvious parallels to Kill a Mockingbird, tomboy motherless child, enigmatic Atticus father type, an odd Dill of a playmate, and a benign neighbor whose illness is an elephant in the room, the book undeniably stands among novels that celebrate the joy of language.

Carrie Brown is able to capture that heady celebratory aspect of childhood, that embracing of wonder before it dips into the busyness and unfortunate jaded outlook of the teen years.
Alice is oddly caught in a web of protecti
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: novel readers
Recommended to Therese by: book club
Read for book club (11/2010) at Crystal Lake Public Library. I found this book to be touching, sweet, and introspective. I really enjoyed it!

The main character is Alice, and the novel takes place around Memorial day, her 10th birthday. She is the lone girl in a house with her father, a Shakespeare professor, and 5 older brothers. She is a bit of a tomboy but quite smart and kind. During the summer she meets and becomes friends with a few special people. The first is Theo, a mixed-race boy from N
Jan 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in the large print edition, and the larger print seemed quite fitting for the age of the main character.
It bothered me some that Alice did not have more supervision and that the housekeeping at her own home was less than desirable; but if she had had more supervision and a home that had more stringent housekeeping rules, Alice could not have had all the adventures she did have.
After reading about another house Alice visited, I wanted to put the book down until I had cleaned
Feb 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the All Iowa Reads book for 2009. According to the website: "the purpose of All Iowa Reads is to encourage Iowans statewide to read and talk about a single title in the same year. Libraries and other local organizations are encouraged to sponsor discussions of the title." I'm not sure why this would be a good thing, but it is a good book--I actually would have given 4 1/2 stars if it were an option, but thought the scale tipped closer to five that down to four.

I thought the book started
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Carrie Brown is the author of five novels – her most recent novel is The Rope Walk (Pantheon, 2007) – and a collection of short stories, The House on Belle Isle. Her other novels include Rose’s Garden, Lamb in Love, The Hatbox Baby and Confinement.

She has won many awards for her work, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, the Janet Heidinger K

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