Elizabeth Strout is known for her compassionate explorations of true-to-life characters. Set in the late 1950’s, Abide with Me explores the states of mind of Tyler Caskey, a troubled minister, and his congregation.
Tyler is in mourning for his wife, who passed away from cancer. His mother has insisted on caring for his youngest daughter, Jeanne, while his five-year-old daughter, Katherine, lives with him.
Tyler is afraid he has lost his relationship with God. He is performing his duties without joy or inspiration. Katherine is having troubles in Kindergarten, because her teacher can’t understand that she is grieving. Aside from this, Tyler only feels comfortable talking to his housekeeper, Connie, and rumors are beginning to go around.
Misunderstandings divide the minister from his congregation. Strout builds tension as the pressures upon the minister build.
This is another insightful and touching novel by Strout. In some ways, it reminded me of Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, except that it doesn’t require as much erudition to understand it.