"Empire Falls (Vintage Contemporaries)" by Richard Russo

Russo's novel is wonderful! The characters, even the minor charactersare real, tangible, quirky, heartwarming and heartbreaking. His writingstyle is rich and engaging; his style reminds me of John Cheever, orJohn Updike, John somebody anyway.

EmpireFalls,a small mill town in Maine, has seen the last of the good times. MilesRoby grew up in Empire Falls, had a brief chance of escape while incollege, but was drawn back because of his mother's failing health. Now,middle aged and struggling to make ends meet, Miles runs the EmpireGrill.

Miles' destiny is not always his own. He is working through a divorcehis wife wants, trying to raise his daughter to a better life, andalways crossing swords with the rich women who owns most of the town,including the Empire Grill.

There is much to like about Miles. He faces adversity head on and seemsto enjoy a balance in life.

The story is very well told, at times humorous, and at timesgut-wrenching; but through it all, Russo weaves a tale of wonderfullyrich and entertaining characters.

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