Ayelet Waldman

Books that take their inspiration from the forbidding Maine coastline and the people who populate it.

Ayelet Waldman Long before Ayelet Waldman began spending her summers in Maine, she came to know the state’s gritty beauty through the works of writers like Stephen King and Carolyn Chute. Like its predecessors, Waldman’s Red Hook Road takes inspiration from the forbidding Maine coastline and its taciturn people with their quiet, acerbic senses of humor.

Books by Ayelet Waldman

Olive Kitteridge

By Elizabeth Strout

“Olive Kitteridge is one of my favorite literary characters. Although she at first lacks insight into what she has done to drive her husband and son away, she’s not simply or even a cold-hearted, angry woman. She’s complex and deeply lonely, a woman whose life has made her harder than she has to be. In typically searing, gorgeous prose, Strout writes about Olive, “[S]he had a darkness that seemed to stand beside her like an acquaintance that would not go away.” This novel in stories is set in a small town in Maine, and Strout does a remarkable job of making us feel just what life is like in a place that is narrow and constricting, yet also wildly beautiful.”

Stern Men

By Elizabeth Gilbert

“Before Elizabeth Gilbert inspired millions of us to abandon our prosaic lives in search of mindfulness, emotional fulfillment, and pasta (or at least made us wish we could), she wrote this starkly beautiful novel about two islands off the coast of Maine, and the complicated, taciturn people who populate them. Ruth Thomas, just back from boarding school, is a marvelous character with a mordant wit, through whom we learn about everything from lobstering to love. “

Empire Falls

By Richard Russo

“What is it about grim and crumbling Maine mill towns that attracts me so much? In other hands, a novel set amidst this much bleakness might be depressing, but Russo manages to make us laugh, even as we cry. Miles Roby, who runs the local diner, officiates as a kind of master of ceremonies to the town’s collections of misfits and neer-do-wells, many of whom are related to him. He has the same sly sense of humor as Gilbert’s Ruth Thomas, the same accurate sense of being just a little bit smarter than the people around him, whom he loves nonetheless.”