The Burgess Boys | Elizabeth Strout #USfiction

I’ve been wanting to read Olive Kitteridge for some time now.

It’s still sitting in my TBR pile, but it’s moved up to the top now that I’ve finished The Burgess Boys.

A tale of two brothers, a sister, a small country town in Maine and a pig’s head. Relationships explored, exposed and analysed in the style of Anne Tyler or Alice Munro.

Issues of belonging, responsibility, truth and lies wrapped up in such a personal, compassionate package that you find yourself connecting to characters that initially repelled you.

Strout highlights how prejudice, love and duty affects individual, families and communities.

I really enjoyed the relationship between the three siblings in the end. Naturally, I had a favourite, but the other two were drawn with such empathy that I eventually came around to seeing their perspectives.

I think what appealed to me most though, was Strout’s ability to see the good side of people and situations. She didn’t ignore or gloss over the bad stuff, she simply chose to see everything and everyone with kindness and goodwill. It was a heartening experience.

Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan—the Burgess sibling who stayed behind—urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.

5 thoughts on “The Burgess Boys | Elizabeth Strout #USfiction

  1. Strout is such a good writer! I recently read this one (haven't posted a review yet though) and really enjoyed it. You're in for a treat with Olive Kitteridge… I think it's even better!


  2. This one is on my To Read list, and I think it may soon be moving up to the top. Your last paragraph here sums up exactly what I like about the way she handles the title character in Olive Kitteridge.


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