Abide with Me – Elizabeth Strout

Another Kidle read from my holidaying, that now seems so far away. And unfortunately, another book that I didn’t like too much. Which is probably why I kept postponing writing the review for so many months.

Let me fall back on Goodreads again, when it comes to the plot:

Katherine is only five-years-old. Struck dumb with grief at her mother’s death, it is down to her father, the heartbroken minister Tyler Caskey, to bring his daughter out of silence she has observed in the wake of the family’s tragedy.
But Tyler Caskey is barely surviving himself. His cold, church-assigned home is colder still since Lauren’s death, and he struggles to find the right words for his sermons; struggles to be a leader to his congregation when he himself is lost.
When Katherine’s schoolteacher calls to discuss his daughter’s anti-social behaviour, it sparks a chain of events that begins to tear down Tyler’s defences. The small-town rumour-mill has much to make of Katherine’s odd behaviour, and even more to say about Tyler’s relationship with his housekeeper, Connie Hatch. And in Tyler’s darkest hour, a startling discovery will test his congregation’s humanity – and his own will to endure the kinds of trials that sooner or later test us all.

For me, it means something that even reading the description of the plot I can barely remember it. What I do remember is that this book felt like a slow meditation on sadness and loss. This does not sound bad, but what didn’t work for me was that I could not care less for Tyler Caskey. Yes, he was broken and his life was unraveling, I felt some pity for him, but I never really cared what would happen to him.

It is a book about loss, grief, life-changing mistakes, and living in a small town. About the power of secrets and our defencelessness against the hostile community. I think it may have worked better for me if I read it in the fall, it feels like an autumn book. But I read it on the beach in Crete, so it probably jarred with my surroundings too much.

Whatever the reason I will not be recommending this book. But that is not to say that I would not continue reading Elizabeth Strout’s books, so far I still liked more than I didn’t.

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Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska @vkphotospace.com

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