Boss reads for boss moms: Abide With Me

Relatable struggles, cool tempuratures, and a dark secret are what this month's pick for moms has is store for us. Katie brings us her latest pick from Pulitzer Prize winning author, Elizabeth Strout, and we can't wait to grab a copy.

By Katie Frawley



Holy moly, moms. This one is a doozy.

I am a big fan of Elizabeth Strout’s work. The first Strout novel I read was OLIVE KITTERIDGE. It was funny, poignant, and deeply vivid. I knew I needed more of her prose in my life. From there I read MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON, OH, WILLIAM!, and OLIVE, AGAIN. So I knew when I decided to pick up a new-to-me Elizabeth Strout book, I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Now, I’m going to let you all in on a little secret. I have been frequently disappointed since I’ve started writing this column.

I like to push myself to read outside my comfort zone. There are so many different moms who love all kinds of different books, and I like to try to find something for everyone. So I’ve gone down various literary paths I would not ordinarily tread. When I’m been pleasantly surprised, I share the title with you. But often, I find myself wading through 40-50 pages of inky sludge before I decide I can’t recommend a title and move on. See how I suffer in the name of literature for you? I hope you are sufficiently grateful.

So after surviving the season plague at my house (shout out to all the moms wrapping gifts with 101 fevers!), I decided to treat myself to a big fat slice of literary cake. And not just some sugary, rot-your-teeth, hate-yourself-in-the-morning cake. This cake is silky, surprising, darkly rich, and good for the soul.

The jacket copy explains,

In the late 1950s, in the small town of West Annett, Maine, a minister struggles to regain his calling, his family, and his happiness in the wake of profound loss. At the same time, the community he has served so charismatically must come to terms with its own strengths and failings — faith and hypocrisy, loyalty and abandonment — when a dark secret is revealed.

What Strout does so stunningly in this and all her books is render the ordinary sublime. She takes the quotidian struggles of everyday life, with which we can all identify, and breathes into them an ethereal beauty. Needing a new shirt for work, the anxious fear of bumping into someone you know at the drugstore, parent/teacher conferences, gossip. There are no explosions, shipwrecks, or torrid love affairs to keeping the pages turning (though the “dark secret” mentioned in the jacket copy certainly shocked and terrified me). But the pages still manage to fly by. I hope the depth of emotion and unflinching honesty of this book will entrance you as it did me.

One word of warning to those readers out there in frostier climes: this book might best be saved until spring.

The grim winter scenery might be more than you can take. Living beneath blue skies and palm trees myself, I found the oppressive gray skies of West Annett, Maine a mysterious and engaging place to spend a few days.

If you’re in the mood for a slice of truly gorgeous writing, grab your fork and dig in. Unlike that second piece of fruitcake, you’ll have no regrets.

If you liked this one, be sure to check out Katie’s other boss reads just for you!

Blonde: A Novel Blonde: A Novel
$19.99 $13.49
This is an affiliate link, meaning we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase. Commission is paid to us at no additional charge to you.
03/27/2023 09:48 am GMT

like & follow