Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Published: 2001

Genre: fiction

Length: 483 pages

Setting: Empire Falls, Maine, recent past

Interest: It’s a Pulitzer Prize winner, and I’m making my way through the list.

Summary: Empire Falls is an old mill town that is controlled and owned by the Whiting family. C.B. Whiting would much rather bum around Mexico than take up the family business, but he does his duty when asked. The story is mostly about Miles Roby and his family. Miles runs the Empire Grills that is owned by the Whitings. With the help of his brother, they’re starting to turn the business around, but Mrs. Whiting doesn’t seem pleased. At the same time, Miles is getting divorced from his wife and his kid is at the bottom of the social ladder at school. Everything comes to a head in the end – Miles confronts Mrs. Whiting and there’s a shooting at school.

Final thoughts: A very enjoyable book. It really showed life in an old industrial town where the industry has left, but the dreams haven’t. There was a complex cast of characters that I would alternately feel sorry for and root for to achieve their dreams. I totally bought into the family and small-town dynamics in the story. So often I read a fiction book, and nothing really happens and I don’t really care about the characters. Starting this book, I was worried it would fall into that category, but there was definitely a good story arc and character development to be drawn into.

Title comes from: The setting of the story.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 64/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge, 10/12 in the Award Winning Book Challenge


Filed under Book review

3 responses to “Empire Falls by Richard Russo

  1. You should try The Risk Pool if you liked this. His small town narratives are excellent

  2. Pingback: The Risk Pool by Richard Russo | Fill Your Bookshelf

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