Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Burgess Boys

by Elizabeth Strout 

This is a story of Bob and Susan Burgess, who as youngsters were known within their family as The Twins, and their older brother Jim. It is really a family like so many, perhaps most others, where things do not work out quite as expected.

First of all, an accident that occurred when they were all children, they had been left in the car for a moment, while their father did a quick errand. As children will do, one of them pretended to be driving, and suddenly the car rolled backward killing their father. This of course had a profund effect on the entire family.

The family lived in a town called Shirley Falls in the state of Maine, a state known for its no nonsense approach to most things. Their mother, who was left to raise her children alone, did the best she could. But as all parents know, this is very often, not enough.

Jim and Bob Burgess were both attorneys. They had both left Maine as soon as they possibly could and settled in New York. Through a quirk of fate, as well as a bit of talent Jim found himself the more successful of the two brothers, working in a prestigious firm. Bob was a legal aid attorney who idolized his brother. They both did their best to stay away from Maine, and their sister, who still lived their with her son Zach.

Jim and his wife Helen were scheduled to leave for a trip with another couple. Bob was the one to step up and try to help, even though even he doubted that his help would be sufficient under the circumstances. He was so used to feeling inferior to his brother, Jim that he always compared his life and his decisions to those of his brother and found himself lacking.

Yes, life can turn on a dime, and throughout this story there are many turns, many twists and not a few surprises. I felt that this was an engrossing and interesting read. I also felt that the ending was one of the surprises.

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