Bowlaway

Bowlaway Review

A sweeping and enchanting new novel from the widely beloved, award-winning author Elizabeth McCracken about three generations of an unconventional New England family who own and operate a candlepin bowling alley

From the day she is discovered unconscious in a New England cemetery at the turn of the twentieth century—nothing but a bowling ball, a candlepin, and fifteen pounds of gold on her person—Bertha Truitt is an enigma to everyone in Salford, Massachusetts. She has no past to speak of, or at least none she is willing to reveal, and her mysterious origin scandalizes and intrigues the townspeople, as does her choice to marry and start a family with Leviticus Sprague, the doctor who revived her. But Bertha is plucky, tenacious, and entrepreneurial, and the bowling alley she opens quickly becomes Salford’s most defining landmark—with Bertha its most notable resident.

When Bertha dies in a freak accident, her past resurfaces in the form of a heretofore-unheard-of son, who arrives in Salford claiming he is heir apparent to Truitt Alleys. Soon it becomes clear that, even in her death, Bertha’s defining spirit and the implications of her obfuscations live on, infecting and affecting future generations through inheritance battles, murky paternities, and hidden wills.

In a voice laced with insight and her signature sharp humor, Elizabeth McCracken has written an epic family saga set against the backdrop of twentieth-century America. Bowlaway is both a stunning feat of language and a brilliant unraveling of a family’s myths and secrets, its passions and betrayals, and the ties that bind and the rifts that divide. 

Title:Bowlaway

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Ron Charles

    Who could walk away from this opening line?“They found a body in the Salford Cemetery, but aboveground and alive.”It sounds like the start of some gruesome murder mystery, but then the wackiness w...

  • Constance

    A sprawling delight. Like reading John Irving circa Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire, but written by a woman....

  • Brenda Ayala

    My first novel from McCracken, and probably my last if the others are like this. “Sprawling” is the best word for this book. It spans like 15 different lives, all stemming from one bowling alley i...

  • Tyler Goodson

    What a big, sprawling novel this is. It reads like an anecdotal history of a bowling alley, and the family who starts it, grows with it, and feels trapped by it. It’s about the farthest branches of ...

  • lisa

    This was an ARC I received from a publisher. I had loved one of Elizabeth McCracken's short story collections (Thunderstruck) so I thought I would enjoy this book. However, it turned into one of those...

  • Louise Miller

    I loved this book a million reasons—the language, the characters, the storytelling, but most of all, for the way it expresses a love for Massachusetts—the candlepin bowling, the Peggy Lawton cooki...

  • Kalen

    **** 1/2Love, love, love Elizabeth McCracken and have been waiting for this one. Solid read but I wanted more Bertha. ...

  • Sandra

    2.5 stars. I wanted to like this book. But it was just *too* quirky for me, in a way that made it feel like it was trying to be.There were moments of real feeling, and where it managed to convey deep ...

  • Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    Book buzz spread like fire when the release of Bowlaway was announced. I hate to admit that I hadn't read a single word from Elizabeth McCracken before but appreciated the fervor readers have for the ...

  • Carol Peters

    Very engaging until the molasses factory explosion, all downhill after that....