Bowlaway

Bowlaway

A Novel

Large Print - 2019
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Elizabeth McCracken presents an epic family saga about three generations of an unconventional New England family who own and operate a candlepin bowling alley.
Publisher: New York, NY :, HarperLuxe,, [2019]
Edition: First HarperLuxe large print edition
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9780062888273
0062888277
Branch Call Number: FIC McCra
Characteristics: 504 pages

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Gigi76
Oct 10, 2019

Goodreads reviews of this book are differing citing both its excellent writing and haphazard jumble of characters and lack of plot. I especially liked the first part with the main character Bertha Truitt, a buxom, brash, stranger who arrives unconsciously and mysteriously in the Salford Cemetery in the 1800’s and quickly brings her chutzpah and candlepin bowling to town. The book radiates out from her and those whose lives she touches. As in life, some of these characters are more interesting than others and the book plods along, for me especially in the last third. Thematically, I appreciated its looking at the role of family history, ancestry, what it means to have parents and a family or to be an orphan. In this book, neither provides an inoculation against the vicissitudes of life. There is a spiritual component around talk of nature, religion, ghosts, and a replica Bertha doll that leaves the last scene with a fellow, now an old man, who as a young man first found her those many decades before.

Some favourite passages:

Pg.44 “In the mornings he would walk. He was a man of nature, he could go miles along the river...At the start of a walk, alone and moving, the sun at his back or cold rain down his collar, he was more himself than under any other circumstance, until he had walked so far he was not himself, not a self, but joined to the world. Invisibly joined. Had a religion been founded on this, purely this, he would have converted...Proof of God? Proof was in the world, and the way you visited the world was on foot...Your walking was a devotion.

Pg.65 “Margaret did not want to strive to understand the world. She wanted the world to simplify, so that she might understand it.

Pg.219 “She’d worn her most ostentatious clothes because she knew that the best camouflage was a kind of flagrancy: you didn’t have to worry how people took you so much if the first thing they noticed was that you were rich.”

Pg.243 “She believed in God for the same reason anybody does: it is unbearable to think that our private thoughts are truly private.”

Pg.306 “Gin was the soup of the day. He drank it. He had been so good.
Now he said it to his mother, weeping. ‘I’ve been so good.’
She answered bitterly, ‘Well, it surely doesn’t seem like you enjoy it.’
What good was goodness if you did it miserably, they both thought, but in different ways.”

Pg.363 “The moment Ethan had died...Joe’s inclination had been to join the army, though he was eighty years old and a pacifist. There must be some way to be shipped far away from home and killed, for a good reason, in another country.”

j
jeffreyochsner
Jun 02, 2019

I read the first 72 pages of Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken. It was a Peak Pick at the library, and I picked it up on a whim. It did not appeal to me. Both the characters and the story are quirky. With so many books on my list to read, I hate to waste my precious reading time on a book I don’t especially like.

g
GummiGirl
Apr 23, 2019

Entertaining, and it taught me about a whole new sport.

m
marynhile
Mar 15, 2019

Heard this author on the news hour and I liked what she had to say about life

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