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Any Bitter Thing
     

Any Bitter Thing

4.0 28
by Monica Wood, Chronicle Books, D.E. Ed. Wood
 

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Richard Russo has celebrated Monica Wood's fiction as "thoroughly captivatingwarm and wise and beautifully written," and Andre Dubus III praised it as "luminous and gracefulentertaining yet transcendent." Any Bitter Thing, Wood's brilliant new novel, is her breakout book, a timely, gripping, and compassionate tale of family, faith, and deeply hidden truths.

Overview

Richard Russo has celebrated Monica Wood's fiction as "thoroughly captivatingwarm and wise and beautifully written," and Andre Dubus III praised it as "luminous and gracefulentertaining yet transcendent." Any Bitter Thing, Wood's brilliant new novel, is her breakout book, a timely, gripping, and compassionate tale of family, faith, and deeply hidden truths. One of its greatest strengths is its continuous ability to defy expectations. It's not what you think. It is worse. Lizzy Mitchell was raised from the age of two by her uncle, a Catholic priest. When she was nine, he was falsely accused of improprieties with her and dismissed from his church, and she was sent away to boarding school. Now thirty years old and in a failing marriage, she is nearly killed in a traffic accident. What she discovers when she sets out to find the truths surrounding the accidentand about the accusations that led to her uncle's deathdoes more than change her life. With deft insight into the snares of the human heart, Monica Wood has written an intimate and emotionally expansive novel full of understanding and hope.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A near-fatal accident in the dark of night 30-year-old Lizzy is struck in a hit-and-run sets in motion a complicated, surprising story of love, loss and sacrifice. When Lizzy was two, her parents were killed in a plane crash, and she was sent to live with her beloved Uncle Mike, a Catholic priest. In prose as fresh and lovely as a Maine summer evening, Lizzy tells of seven halcyon years with her uncle. But when a bitter housekeeper falsely accuses Mike of sexually abusing Lizzy, her cozy world is shattered. Sent to live with relatives, Lizzy is told that Mike succumbed to the weak family heart and died. So how has he visited her in her hospital room after the hit-and-run? This, as well as the mystery of why Father Mike meekly accepted the accusations leveled against him, begins to come clear when Lizzy's accident and rehabilitation dredge up questions of another tragic event, long hidden. Following the structure of the Liturgy of the Hours from Invitatory to Matins, Wood (My Only Story) employs a sophisticated, layered architecture, circling from present to past to reveal shocking truths. Interspersed with Lizzy's first-person narration are sections told from Uncle Mike's third-person perspective, which provide mesmerizing insight into what is known and what is remembered. Wood's story unassumingly builds in power, right up to its moving final page. -Publishers Weekly

A catastrophic accident forces a young Catholic wife to question the good intentions of those around her, in Wood's polished second outing (after My Only Story, 2003), set in small-town Maine.

Incredibly, the abandonment of Lizzy Mitchell on the side of the road after she's hit by a car one March night becomes the third traumatic desertion of her life: the first occurred when her parents died in an airplane crash, leaving her orphaned at age two; the second from the vanishing of her caretaker uncle, Father Mike, when she was nine. Nobody believes that Lizzy remembers a visitation when she was in the hospital after the accident not even her husband, Drew, who is trying to repair their marriage after suspicions of his infidelity drove Lizzy out the night of the accident. Yet Lizzy swears that her beloved Father Mike was there, although she has always been told that he died shortly after the dubious child molestation charges wrested the priest away from her. A 30-year-old counselor in a high school, Lizzy suddenly receives word from the so-called Bad Samaritan who moved her body after she was struck by another car and then left her on the side of the road after calling 911: this aged broken-hearted alcoholic, Harry Griggs, desperately seeks her forgiveness but then doesn't have the strength to use her confidence in turning his life around. After an opening bang, Wood gradually works her way back in time, using alternating points of view and time periods to unravel the soulful mystery of these deeply scarred and intensely human characters. The trials visited upon Lizzy both as a child and adult seem brutally unendurable, and yet her vulnerability becomes her strength. Overall, Wood keeps a firm control, even when testing poor Father Mike with every temptation imaginable. Quotes from The Liturgy of the Hours delicately weave a Christian message throughout. A quiet tale with epic repercussions. -Kirkus Reviews

Andrew Ervin
‰ the cleverly blurred timelines allow us to see -- even better than Lizzy can -- how the different acts of violence in her life continue to define her.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
A near-fatal accident in the dark of night-30-year-old Lizzy is struck in a hit-and-run-sets in motion a complicated, surprising story of love, loss and sacrifice. When Lizzy was two, her parents were killed in a plane crash, and she was sent to live with her beloved Uncle Mike, a Catholic priest. In prose as fresh and lovely as a Maine summer evening, Lizzy tells of seven halcyon years with her uncle. But when a bitter housekeeper falsely accuses Mike of sexually abusing Lizzy, her cozy world is shattered. Sent to live with relatives, Lizzy is told that Mike succumbed to the weak family heart and died. So how has he visited her in her hospital room after the hit-and-run? This, as well as the mystery of why Father Mike meekly accepted the accusations leveled against him, begins to come clear when Lizzy's accident and rehabilitation dredge up questions of another tragic event, long hidden. Following the structure of the Liturgy of the Hours from Invitatory to Matins, Wood (My Only Story) employs a sophisticated, layered architecture, circling from present to past to reveal shocking truths. Interspersed with Lizzy's first-person narration are sections told from Uncle Mike's third-person perspective, which provide mesmerizing insight into what is known and what is remembered. Wood's story unassumingly builds in power, right up to its moving final page. Agent, Gail Hochman. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
While running on a rainy night, trying to escape the marital difficulties awaiting her at home, Lizzy is struck from behind and left near death. In and out of consciousness, she receives a "visitation" from her Uncle Mike, who she believes is dead. Her experience "beyond the grave" causes her to examine her childhood and confront the grief she has suppressed for so long. Any Bitter Thing is Lizzy's recollection of being orphaned, not once but twice. She lost her parents when she was just two years old. Then she went to live with her Uncle Mike, a Catholic priest, only to be removed from his loving care when she was nine years old amid false sexual misconduct allegations. Lizzy was told Father Mike died shortly after their separation. "I tell this with the authority of memory..." begins Lizzy's retrospective as she recalls the happy times with Father Mike, her innocent childhood, and the inescapable grief of losing the only father she has ever known. The reader, however, quickly comes to understand that Lizzy's memory is one-dimensional: the mysteries that unfold bring both surprise and suspense. The author structures the novel within the parts of The Liturgy of Hours, the daily devotional that was a vital part of Father Mike's spirituality and Lizzy's family life. Monica Wood's prose is poignant and touching, and its many layers will provoke thought and compel discussion. This novel of loss, family, forgiveness and redemption will stay with the reader long after it is finished. Recommended for senior high and advanced readers. High school readers, in particular, will appreciate the wry scenes of guidance counselor Lizzy guiding the lost teenage souls in small-town Maine. KLIATT Codes:SA*--Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2005, Random House, Ballantine, 351p., $13.95.. Ages 15 to adult.
—Lorie Paldino
Kirkus Reviews
A catastrophic accident forces a young Catholic wife to question the good intentions of those around her, in Wood's polished second outing (after My Only Story, 2003), set in small-town Maine. Incredibly, the abandonment of Lizzy Mitchell on the side of the road after she's hit by a car one March night becomes the third traumatic desertion of her life: the first occurred when her parents died in an airplane crash, leaving her orphaned at age two; the second from the vanishing of her caretaker uncle, Father Mike, when she was nine. Nobody believes that Lizzy remembers a visitation when she was in the hospital after the accident-not even her husband, Drew, who is trying to repair their marriage after suspicions of his infidelity drove Lizzy out the night of the accident. Yet Lizzy swears that her beloved Father Mike was there, although she has always been told that he died shortly after the dubious child molestation charges wrested the priest away from her. A 30-year-old counselor in a high school, Lizzy suddenly receives word from the so-called Bad Samaritan who moved her body after she was struck by another car and then left her on the side of the road after calling 911: this aged broken-hearted alcoholic, Harry Griggs, desperately seeks her forgiveness but then doesn't have the strength to use her confidence in turning his life around. After an opening bang, Wood gradually works her way back in time, using alternating points of view and time periods to unravel the soulful mystery of these deeply scarred and intensely human characters. The trials visited upon Lizzy both as a child and adult seem brutally unendurable, and yet her vulnerability becomes her strength. Overall, Wood keeps afirm control, even when testing poor Father Mike with every temptation imaginable. Quotes from The Liturgy of the Hours delicately weave a Christian message throughout. A quiet tale with epic repercussions.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811846042
Publisher:
Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
05/28/2005
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
8.25(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.25(d)
Age Range:
13 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Monica Wood is also the author of Ernie's Ark, a collection of stories, and My Only Story, a novel. Her fiction, book reviews, and articles appear in numerous magazines and literary journals. She was born and still lives in Maine, which is also where her fiction takes place.

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Any Bitter Thing 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
girlsnp More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully written epiphany as a woman learns the bitter and better truths of her haunted past. The debth of the story and character devopment is riveting and kept me longing for a satisfying conclusion for all. The author delivers by weaving the time lines and multiple plot undercurrents seamlessly. Can't wait for book club to dicuss this great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author, Monica Woods, can write! Very refreshing style, I loved it. Characters were developed well and we learn more about each one as the book flows on. It was thought provoking and stimulated a conversation with a friend who had read it. It has been a while since I read it but it lingers on--highly recommended
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book because someone selected it as our next book club read and I have to say that I was not looking forward to reading anything about child molestation. However, I am so glad that I read it! Once I started I couldn't put it down and I read it in one day. It is not at all what I anticipated and Monica Wood writes with such stunning and thought provoking imagery that there were several paragraphs that I slowed down and re-read savoring the words like poetry. The plot was completely unexpected and flowed smoothly from one shocking revelation to the next. I highly recommend this book and I will be looking into reading anything else written by this talented author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got completely wrapped up in this book with the detailed way that Mainards describe something but still keep the story moving. The second half of the book really picks up the pace with a few surprises.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this beautiful, thought provoking, heart-centered story of people at their best, in their deepest needs, and at their worst. Belonging and redemption are at the heart of this beautifully written story. I believe others of all faiths in a 'God' of their own particular belief system will see a universality about the people in this story, and their struggles to live within the bounds of their 'institutional' beliefs, and their own personal needs and failings. 'God' being a God who cares/loves but does not necessarily respond at our 'beck and call' to save all our struggles as we might want Him to do. The struggle to belong, be seen, be heard, and be loved for ourselves is handled with great care by Monica Woods in a surprisingly absorbing book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was one that I paced myself reading, although I wanted to read all day and night to find out what the truth was. The suspense and wonderfully detailed memories urged me to take this book with me everywhere I went just to read how Lizzy dealt with the troubles she experienced in her young life. I am so happy that I took the time to read this mystery, I never would have guessed the truth in a million years, Monica Wood is very skilled in her works, she fooled me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of human relationships, vows, sin and atonement, this author delivers a powerful story, each word deliciously crafted like fine chocolate
Guest More than 1 year ago
Last year,my daughter gave me Monica Wood's book 'Ernie's Ark' . I loved it so much, that I presented eight copies of it to my book group. They all agreed. After reading it,I knew I had to read everything Ms. Wood wrote. 'Any Bitter Thing' surpassed my expections. I adored this book. She writes with such a passion for her characters. Please don't make this into a movie, the beauty of your words will get lost.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my first book by this author. The book caught my attention right away and held it to the end. I cared about the characters and loved the imagery, the authors use of language, and the story line. In short, I really loved this book and could not put it down! I will definately be looking for more books by this author.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For me this book was slow to get into. I had to force myself to read it at times. Then the truth and secrets stated coming out and it became very intriguing. I just woulda liked for the relatinship with Frannie to have been more developed. And the profanity left out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Started out a little confusing while I got used to the chaging POV. But quicly captivated me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Boring, no personality, lots of errors which was weird. It was impossible to connect to the characters or the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down. Characters so real I felt like I knew their history as I know my own. Even thought the story centers around a young woman, the real story to me was about a truly good man who selflessly loved the women in his life as he loved his God.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the most heartwarming book I have read in a very long time. I couldn't put it down. Neither could my friends that read it.