Any Bitter Thing: A Novel Paperback – 25 April 2006
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“Wood illuminates the grace in the average and the everyday, the miracles that lie within the ordinary life. . . . [An] intimate exploration of love and faith, betrayal and penance.”
–San Francisco Chronicle
“Deserves a place on the shelf with modern classics such as John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany and Richard Russo’s Empire Falls . . . the story is full of suspense and surprise.”
–Maine Sunday Telegram
“Here, as in [David Mitchell’s] Cloud Atlas, the forgotten, undersold virtue of good sound plotting proves its worth.”
–David Kipen, National Public Radio
“[An] exquisite, soul-satisfying novel of hearts broken seemingly beyond repair and healed in the utter unlikeliness of grace.”
–Tim Farrington, author of The Monk Downstairs
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- Publisher : Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (25 April 2006)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0345477685
- ISBN-13 : 978-0345477682
- Item Weight : 272 g
- Dimensions : 13.21 x 2.29 x 20.07 cm
- Country of Origin : USA
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from other countries
Being a Catholic myself, I am well versed with church dogma and spent many years in the company of priests and nuns. This was a first time read for me by this author, so I had none of her other works to use as a comparison.
Although the beginning drew me in, for some reason the novel did not keep riveted.
I am not sure why. Perhaps it was the author's style of writing, it just seemed to me, that it took a long time to tell a simple story.
This is a story filled with love, loss, forgiveness and the tenacity of family.
Although the author spent lots of time developing Lizzie's character, I wish she had spent more time developing Father Mike's and Vivienne's. I wanted more about them and never really got it. I had questions for which I never got answers; what happens to Lizzie's and Father Mike's relationship? Andrea Harmon? Why no scene between Father Mike and Vivienne?...and a few others.
I appreciated the plot twists in the later chapters, I didn't see all of them coming. This was an unexpected treat which woke me up long enough to finish the story.
The story had lots of potential but I think the way it was written it never quite reached it.
All in all, a sad tale with no real winners. All the characters were left hurt and broken.
Wood tells the story by alternating point of views between Lizzy and Father Mike. She takes readers into a maelstrom of right and wrong as the story unfolds. Father Mike is as devoted to his church as any priest. Yet he is tempted. This dilemma coupled with Lizzy's recollections of her childhood build into a gripping story.
With a cast of interesting characters, each one developed with the care of a precise writer, Wood crafts a story with masterful prose. The writing never falters as in this passage, "I spent seven years as Father Mike's child, a time delicate and fossilized, sweet as a paw print encased in amber, telling as a line on a cave wall."
This book is worth reading not just for the superb prose and story telling, but because Wood forces readers to examine their understanding of right and wrong. A great novel demands your attention long after you have finished it. That is exactly what Wood has accomplished in this fine novel.
Father Mike's capacity for self-sacrifice and care is no surprise, seeing as how he's a priest and all, but what is a surprise is his complete delight in fatherhood. Any Bitter Thing is that rare book, a portrait of a man as a devoted, loving, self-sacrificing single parent. Crow Lake is one of these books, Silas Marner is another. What's interesting to me is that the men in these books are not the biological fathers, they take on children who have lost their parents. Parenthood is a transformative event, but I wonder if there are books about biological fatherhood that offer this same spellbinding vision of its power.
It's not easy to say what this novel is about: abuse scandals within the Catholic church, the ubiquity of loneliness, the hard work that a marriage demands, the punishments of secrecy, the joys and terrors of love?
Wood holds all these themes together in the interwoven voices and characters of Lizzy, a young woman recovering from a near fatal hit-and-run accident, and Father Mike, the Catholic priest and uncle who raised her when her parents died.
The story is one that readers will both want to rush through and savor, lingering over lovely phrasings such as "Telling felt like resting" or "Bad news usually arrives ugly."
A thoroughly satisfying read.