A novel with an interesting tale to tell, “Stern Men” by Elizabeth Gilbert is a book for those who enjoy reading as much for the style as for the tale. Despite this fact, this is not a story for those who enjoy an easy-to-read novel that one cannot bear to put down. Far from the light and breezy style of a Harlequin romance novel, “Stern Men” offers a sedate story that winds through several generations of the heroine’s family. If one can hang in there for the finish, it is worth the wait.
Although I did indeed find myself laughing out loud at times, I also found myself wishing that these moments were more frequent. Perhaps I’ve changed in my likes and dislikes as far as reading goes because this is exactly the type of novel that I used to enjoy thoroughly and completely. Unfortunately, I cannot say this is true anymore. If you want to read a book of substance, then this is a book that you should pick up. If you want a quick read, visit the corner store.
Set off the coast of Maine, the novel traverses the lives of strong women who must undergo discrimination, recrimination, and the lot that befalls them simply because of birth. The tale takes one along the lives of women who suffer much while trying to find a few moments of happiness. It involves the lives of people who live separately on two remote islands. Despite the separate nature of these lives, they become intertwined in a not-so-happy manner.
The heroine of “Stern Men” has a mind of her own and finds a way to combat the idiosyncrasies of island living. Embracing her heritage and doping with the provincial minds of men set in their ways, she breaks out of the mold and uses her wits and intelligence to forge a life for herself on the islands that have been so dominated by men all of these years.
One of the facets to this book that I did thoroughly enjoy are the little tidbits of lobster lore at the beginning of each chapter that were culled from various sources including “The Lobster Fishery of Maine,” “The American Lobster: A Study of Its Habits and Development,” and “Crab, Shrimp, and Lobster Lore.” Each of these tidbits is interesting and educational at the same time.
For readers who can smell the salt of the sea almost upon command or taste the flesh of expertly cooked lobster at will, “Stern Men” is the read they are looking to enjoy. In fact, for readers who enjoy seeing women get the best of men, this is a story that is sure to please.