Monday, 2 May 2016

"The Burgess Boys" by Elizabeth Strout

When I discovered that I had missed reading one of Elizabeth Strout's books, I decided to get right at it.

Once again, Shirley Falls, Maine is the setting for part of the book.  There is an influx of Somalian refugees and the town is divided on their acceptance of these residents.

"About the Somalis, a few townspeople did not speak at all: They were to be born as one bore bad winters or the price of gasoline or a child who turned out badly.  Others were not so silent.  One woman wrote a letter that the newspaper published.  "I finally figured out what it is I don't like about the Somalis being here.  Their language is different and I don't like the sound of it.  I love the Maine accent."

The Burgess Boys, Bob and Jim had long ago left Shirley Falls for New York City- both involved in law.  So their experience was needed when their nephew, Zachary, still living in Shirley Falls, threw a pig's head into a mosque.  Zack was charged with a hate crime.

   I had great difficulty completing this novel.  I feel a connection to Elizabeth Strout because of her beautiful language.  But, this book just could not keep my attention.  There was not enough plot to push my way through, but I persevered.
   The infusion of immigrants could have had real relevance to our lives, but this book was totally lacking.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  "Olive Kitteridge" was obviously the best novel written by this author.  It won a Pulitzer Prize and was made into an HBO miniseries that won an Emmy.  But the last two books have been disappointing.

I have enjoyed Elizabeth Strout's writing in the past because
- her plots are linnear and easy to follow
- I enjoy the small town of Shirley Falls
- the writing is beautiful
- she writes about human nature

Amy and Isabelle               2003
Abide With Me                  2006
Olive Kitteridge                 2008
The Burgess Boys              2013
My Name is Lucy Barton  2016

I will continue to be a fan but hope that future books will return to the standard of the first ones.

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