304 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.75 in
May 15, 2000
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0395836220
ISBN - 13: 9780395836224
Read from the Book
1 Unlike some crustaceans, who are coldly indifferent to the welfare of their offspring, the mamma lobster keeps her little brood about her until the youthful lobsterkins are big enough to start in life for themselves. -Crab, Shrimp, and Lobster Lore William B. Lord 1867
The birth of Ruth Thomas was not the easiest on record. She was born during a week of legendary, terrible storms. The last week of May 1958 did not quite bring a hurricane, but it was not calm out there, either, and Fort Niles Island got whipped. Stan Thomas's wife, Mary, in the middle of this storm, endured an unusually hard labor. This was her first child. She was not a big woman, and the baby was stubborn in coming. Mary Thomas should have been moved to a hospital on the mainland and put under the care of a doctor, but this was no weather for boating around a woman in hard labor. There was no doctor on Fort Niles, nor were there nurses. The laboring woman, in distress, was without any medical attention. She just had to do it on her own.
Mary whimpered and screamed during labor, while her female neighbors, acting as a collective of amateur midwives, administered comfort and suggestions, and left her side only to spread word of her condition across the island. The fact was, things didn't look good. The oldest and smartest women were convinced from early on that Stan's wife was not going to make it. Mary Thomas wasn't from the island, anyway, and the women didn't have great faith in her streng
From the Publisher
In this big, wise, funny first novel from a PEN/Hemingway Award finalist, a resilient young woman brings an end to an age-old fishing feud. Elizabeth Gilbert's debut collection, PILGRIMS, was hailed as "a superior collection of stories about women who are as tough as they look, though perhaps not quite as tough as they think they are" (Glamour). Stern Men brings us Gilbert's toughest, smartest, most lovable heroine yet.
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 prenatural gift for catching lobsters. Their passion is fast, furious, and forbidden. Their only hope is an unlikely truce.
For readers 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. This is a large-canvas novel with a heroine destined for greatness in spite of herself.
About the Author
Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of the story collection PILGRIMS, a finalist for the 1998 PEN/Hemingway Award. It was a New York Times Notable Book and was listed as one of the Most Intriguing Books of 1997 by GLAMOUR magazine. PILGRIMS also won best first fiction awards from the PARIS REVIEW, the SOUTHERN REVIEW, and Ploughshares. Her fiction has been published in ESQUIRE, STORY, GQ, THE PARIS REVIEW, PLOUGHSHARES, and the MISSISSIPPI REVIEW. She is also a Pushcart Prize winner, and her nonfiction writing has earned her a 1999 National Magazine Award nomination. Annie Proulx called Gilbert a "young writer of incandescent talent." Currently a writer-at-large for GQ, Gilbert lives in New York's Hudson Valley.
From Our Editors
war is waging in Maine that has gone on for generations. For years, the local
lobstermen have fought to save their fishing rights from the men of Courne
Haven. When 17-year-old Ruth returns from boarding school, she decides to join
the fight against Courne Haven. What Ruth doesn’t count on is falling for Owney
Wishnell, a young Courne Haven man. Their affair is passionate and dangerous
and the only way they can stay together is to resolve this lobster conflict. In
Men, Ruth must find a way to make this happen.
[Gilbert's] gift for lively, authentic dialogue and atmospheric
setting lights up this entertaining, and surprisingly