Strout, Elizabeth 1956–
Strout, Elizabeth 1956–
PERSONAL: Born January 6, 1956, in Portland, ME; daughter of Richard (a science professor) and Beverly (a teacher; maiden name, Bean) Strout; married Martin Feinman, August 14, 1982; children: Zarina. Education: Bates College, Lewiston, ME, B.A., 1977; Syracuse University, J.D., 1982. Hobbies and other interests: Roller-blading.
CAREER: Writer and educator. English and literature teacher, Manhattan College and the New School, New York, NY, and Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Former pub worker, house cleaner, secretary, cocktail waitress, artist's model, and Elderly Abuse project worker; former staff attorney, Legal Services, Syracuse, NY.
MEMBER: National Writers Union, Authors Guild.
AWARDS, HONORS: Heartland Award, Chicago Tribune, 1999; Los Angeles Times Book Award for First Fiction, 1999, for Amy and Isabelle.
Amy and Isabelle (novel), Random House (New York, NY), 1999.
Abide with Me: A Novel, Random House (New York, NY), 2006.
Also author of screenplay for television movie Amy and Isabelle, based on the author's novel; fiction has appeared in numerous periodicals, including the New Yorker.
ADAPTATIONS: Amy and Isabelle has been made into an audiobook, Chivers Audiobooks, 2000.
SIDELIGHTS: In her first novel, Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout tells the story of Amy Goodrow, a high school student in the 1970s who has a strained relationship with her mother Isabelle since being found in a compromising situation with her math teacher. For her part, Isabelle also has secrets from her past concerning her husband and family. In the meantime, Isabelle seeks a quiet life in contrast to the burgeoning women's movement of the day and hopes to one day fall in love with a "good" man. Carol Anshaw, writing in the Women's Review of Books, noted: "The novel, like Isabelle, is old-fashioned in form, told by an omniscient narrator privileged not only to every character's innermost thoughts and hidden pasts, but also to futures they can't yet see." Anshaw went on to write that "the novel surprises with the familiar." A Publishers Weekly contributor called the story "beautifully nuanced."
Abide with Me: A Novel takes place in the 1950s and focuses on a recently widowed minister, Tyler Caskey, who struggles with life and his faith as he deals with his parishioners' numerous problems, foibles, and hidden vices. To complicate matters, Tyler, who is also coping with a troubled daughter, becomes the object of town gossip concerning an affair he may be having with his housekeeper. "Strout's deadpan, melancholy prose powerfully conveys Tyler's sense of internal confinement," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the novel "a melancholy tale of faith lost and found."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 1999, Bonnie Smothers and Brad Hooper, review of Amy and Isabelle, p. 602.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2006, review of Abide with Me: A Novel, p. 14.
Library Journal, October 1, 2005, Susanne Wells, review of Abide with Me, p. 69.
Publishers Weekly, October 17, 2005, review of Abide with Me, p. 37.
Women's Review of Books, June, 1999, Carol Anshaw, review of Amy and Isabelle, p. 11.
Chelsea Forum, http://www.chelseaforum.com/ (April 4, 2006), brief biography of author.