Abide with Me

Cover of Abide with Me
A review of Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout

 Tyler Caskey is the new minister in the small town of West Annett, Maine who recently lost his young wife.  A year after her death he continues to suffer other losses.  He’s already lost one of his daughters to his mother who took the child after his wife died.  He’s losing his older daughter Katherine to a silence and peculiar behavior he doesn’t understand.  He’s lost his housekeeper Connie who was a source of stability in his downward spiral of grief.  And finally he’s losing his congregation, unable to muster the words and strength needed to command the Sunday sermons he once so enjoyed.  A congregation that welcomed him when he was new to the community and now because of petty behaviors and small town gossip begin to doubt he’s the minister they had thought.  A congregation that isn’t very likeable, yet when needed the most comes through to help heal not only Tyler but themselves.

I can’t decide whether I liked this book or not.  But I do keep thinking about it, which says something.  It had an overall dreariness to it both in setting and people and the “redemptive ending” seemed a little rushed. Nevertheless if you liked Elizabeth Strout's first novel Amy and Isabelle you will most likely enjoy Abide with Me.  The messages are similar, and the prose is beautiful.