Amy and Isabelle: A novel (Vintage Contemporaries) (Paperback)

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Amy and Isabelle: A novel (Vintage Contemporaries) By Elizabeth Strout Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

A really absorbing and well written novel about the intricacies and rivalries between a mother and daughter. Coming of age versus coming to terms with a past. — Barbara Morrow

Elizabeth Strout's first novel, like Olive Kitteridge, is set in a small town where a woman and her daughter lead a tenuous existence, both with the world around them and with each other. Isabelle works as a secretary in a local mill. Amy, withering under the close and judgmental scrutiny of her parent, has become infatuated with her high school math teacher, who begins to reciprocate the affection and manipulate the girl. Although she doesn't realize it, Amy is setting the stage to repeat the tragedy of her mother's life. This is a moving examination of both the painful constrictions and the comforting rewards of ordinariness: of dreams devoutly wished and never realized. There is a touch of Amanda Wingfield in Isabelle, but, unlike Tennessee Williams' doomed character in The Glass Menagerie, her journey here is towards a final acceptance of things as they are.

— Alden Graves


Before there was Olive Kitteridge, there was Amy and Isabelle

“A novel of shining integrity and humor, about the bravery and hard choices of what is called ordinary life.”—Alice Munro

Pulitzer Prize winning author Elizabeth Strout’s bestselling and award winning debut, Amy and Isabelle—adapted for television by Oprah Winfrey— 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. That they eat, sleep, and work side by side in the gossip-ridden mill town of Shirley Falls—a location fans of Strout will recognize from her critically acclaimed novel, The Burgess Boys—only increases the tension. And just when it appears things can't get any worse, Amy's sexuality begins to unfold, causing a vast and icy rift between mother and daughter that will remain unbridgeable unless Isabelle examines her own secretive and shameful past.
A Reader's Guide is included in the paperback edition of this powerful first novel by the author who brought Olive Kitteridge to millions of readers.

About the Author

Elizabeth Strout is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Olive Kitteridge, winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Olive, Again, an Oprah’s Book Club pick; Anything Is Possible, winner of the Story Prize; My Name Is Lucy Barton, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize; The Burgess Boys, named one of the best books of the year byThe Washington Post and NPR; Abide with Me, a national bestseller; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the International Dublin Literary Award, and the Orange Prize. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker and O: The Oprah Magazine. Elizabeth Strout lives in New York City.

Praise For…

"One of those rare, invigorating books that take an apparently familiar world and peer into it with ruthless intimacy, revealing a strange and startling place." -- The New York Times Book Review

"Strout's insights into the complex psychology bewteen [mother and daughter] result in a poignant tale about two coming of age." --Time

"Impressive....Strout writes with abundant warmth." --People

"Poignant...sensitively imagined...[Amy and Isabelle] recalls the elgegiac charm of Our Town." --The Christian Science Monitor

"Stunning....Every once in a while, a novel comes along that plunges deep into your psyche, leaving you breathless....This year that novel is Amy and Isabelle." --San Francisco Chronicle

"A novel of shining integrity and humor, about the bravery and hard choices of what is called ordinary life." --Alice Munro

"Excellent....Strout's collective portrait...remains unflaggingly engaging....[W]hat a pleasure to gain entry into the world of this book." --The New Yorker

"Lovely, powerful...a kind if modern 'Rapunzel.'" --Newsweek

"Amy and Isabelle is an impressive debut....with an expansiveness and inventiveness that is the mark of a true storyteller." --The Philadelphia Inquirer

Product Details
ISBN: 9780375705199
ISBN-10: 0375705198
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: February 1st, 2000
Pages: 320
Language: English
Series: Vintage Contemporaries