Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout
(Random House, 2006, 304 pages)
I’m a huge fan of author Elizabeth Strout and while I’m not sure what got me started on her backlist I’m glad I got a chance to read Abide with Me. Set in the small town of West Annett in 1950s Maine we are introduced to Tyler Caskey, a young preacher who suffered a difficult loss in the death of his wife. Now he’s responsible for his young daughter who is suffering through the loss of her mother in the only way she knows how. This leads to many in the small town seeing her as “different” and judging her father accordingly.
Caskey himself has had a hard time returning to “normal” since becoming a widower and this comes through in his sermons and his interactions with his churchgoers. His congregation has been patient but it seems that while Caskey is trying to stay afloat and keep from flailing in his faith the town has come to the decision that they’ve cut him enough slack for a while.
Abide with Me is incredibly well written, as can be expected from Strout, and it speaks to a number of issues from love to faith to what it means to be a part of a community. I really enjoyed the book and would certainly recommend Strout’s books to anyone (my favorite is Olive Kitteridge, a collection of connected short stories). Next up, Amy and Isabelle.