On two remote islands off the coast of Maine, the local lobstermen have fought savagely for generations over the fishing rights to the ocean waters between them. Young Ruth Thomas is born into this feud, a daughter of Fort Niles destined to be at war with the men of Courne Haven. Eighteen years old, smart as a whip, irredeemably unromantic, Ruth returns home from boarding school determined to throw her education overboard and join the "stern men" who work the lobster boats. She is certain of one thing: she will not surrender control of her life to the wealthy Ellis family, which has always had a sinister hold over the island. On her side are Fort Niles's eccentric residents: the lovable Mrs. Pommeroy and her various deadbeat sons; sweet old Senator Simon, on a mission to dig up shipwreck treasure; and Simon's twin brother, Angus Addams, the most ruthless lobsterman alive. The feud between the islands escalates daily-until Ruth gets a glimpse of Owney Wishnell, a silent young Courne Haven Adonis with a preternatural gift for catching lobsters. Their passion is fast, furious, and forbidden. Their only hope is an unlikely truce. For those who love the work of John Irving, STERN MEN is a comedy that is as smart and finely crafted as it is entertaining. STERN MEN captures a particular American spirit with on-the-mark dialogue and a fine funny touch that pierces our notions of commerce and class. "[Gilbert] has all the hallmarks of a great writer: sympathy, wit, and an amazing ear for dialogue."-Harper's Bazaar
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by Elizabeth Gilbert
by Elizabeth Leiknes
by Elizabeth Berg
by Lisa McMann
by Christine Gilbert
by Gilbert Morris
by Bill Gilbert
"A "stern man" is the second man on a lobster boat, who hauls and baits traps while the captain drives. Ruth Thomas, the endearing young heroine, unfolds the story of her love-hate relationship with Fort Niles Island, Maine, and the rival adjacent island of Courne Haven. A delightful ethnography of lobstering culture, the novel gently probes all that is sweetly compassionate and, conversely, alarmingly competitive and hostile in this austere and isolated world. Ruth's sophistication lends her an outsider's perspective. Narrator Allyson Ryan misses the mark in her attempts at the characters' Maine accents. But these jarring moments of dialogue are softened by her grasp of the narrative. Still, the author's use of humor and irony could have been expressed with more nuance. (Yes, a listener can hear a smile or a stifled laugh.) A.W. (c) AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine"
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