Thursday 29 October 2009

Amy & Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout

Pages - 304

Published by Simon & Schuster in 1999. This edition published in 2006

Challenges - Fall Into Reading and 100 books.

I picked this book up from the library a couple of months ago and it has taken me such a long to get around to reading it. I am so glad my library allows you to keep renewing books as I hate to take them back unread.

Amy & Isabelle is one of those books that progresses really quietly until the ending where all is revealed. It looks at the relationship between Isabelle, a struggling single mother secretly in love with her boss and Amy, a shy young girl, who embarks on an affair with her maths teacher. The book details the breakdown of their relationship over one summer as the affair comes to light. By the end of the book, their relationship has moved to a new level and you witness the journey they had to travel to reach it.

This book is about real life and real relationships and how people deal with the blows that life throws at them. The relationship between mother and daughter is such a difficult one and probably mirrors thousands of similar relationships around the world where the parent and child have such differing views of life.

I loved the character of Amy, as this book witnesses her coming of age. She goes from being a very shy girl who blossoms into a woman and realises what she wants out of life. Amy ends up doing some things that I felt she wouldn't be proud of, but I feel they were part of her journey in growing up and finding herself.

Isabelle learns a lot from Amy as the book progresses. When Amy's affair with her teacher is discovered and time passes, Isabelle begins to see parallels between Amy's life and her own. Isabelle changes her attitude towards the people around her and finally lets people into her life. The book follows the journey of two lonely people who learn to embrace life and the people around them.

I really enjoyed this book, as I found I could relate to both characters. Through Amy, I could understand the difficulty of those teenage years and dealing with the strong emotional feelings that occur within us all during that time period. Through Isabelle, I could see why she kept so many secrets hidden from pubic view,but they made her appear stuck up and aloof. I preferred it when she became more open with the people around her. I have always viewed myself as quite an open book and I have always thought that too many secrets can fester. Better out than in!

The minor characters within the book are interesting too. It is made very clear within the pages of the book that the grass is not really greener on the other side. Barbara Riley appears as the epitome of everything Isabelle would like to be. Yet as the book progresses, you find that Barbara's life is not an easy one and just like everyone else, she has her own problems to deal with.

If you like books that look at the relationship between mothers and daughters,then this one is for you. You will witness both mother and daughter finally coming of age.

Other reviews of this book

The Magic Lasso


  1. Nice review.
    Sounds like an interesting book

  2. very well written review. I read this book a couple years ago and really did enjoy it. She reminds me of Joyce Carrol Oates in her writing style.

  3. Good review Viv. I know I owned this book at one time, but I think I must have donated it unread as it's no longer on my list of books owned???

  4. I love books about women's relationships no matter if they're mother and daughter or not. This one sounds so good!

  5. Interesting review. I think its always fascinating to read relationship based books - about the relationships between mother & daughter, mother & son, brothers, sisters, whatever.

  6. This sounds like an interesting book, I might have to look into it. Mother / daughter relationships have always fascinated me and I love a good coming of age story.

  7. Also, I left you a little award at my blog this morning. Make sure you come pick it up. :O)

  8. I read this a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Great review!

  9. Blodeuedd - thankyou.

    Kathy - I shall Joyce Carol Oates.

    Diane - oh no! You missed out.

    Bermudaonion - it was fabulous. You must read it.

    Petty Witter - I like relationship books when they are real and not sugar coated.

    Jen - you will love it. It will prepare for the future.LOL. Thanks for the award.

    Missy - glad you liked it too.

  10. I just found ur blog! I'm a follower now!

  11. Great review! I really enjoy books about mothers and daughters. This one sounds like one I would enjoy.

  12. sounds a bit scandalous--the teacher/student angle! i also enjoy mother/daughter dynamics and this sounds like one for the TBR pile!

  13. I love mother/daughter books. Great review, Viv!

  14. For me, mother/daughter books are really great. I enjoy looking at the relationship from a different angle ad seeing some of the things that I take for granted in my own relationship with my mother. Even more, I just find human relationships in general to be interesting and there is something special about the bond between mother and daughter. This sounds like a really interesting read. Great review.

  15. This does sound very good, great review. I haven't read many mother/daughter books. I have to add this to my TBR.


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