“Stern Men”

  • Elizabeth’s first novel originally published in 2000
  • Released by Penguin in 2009

Set on two small islands off the coast of Maine, “Stern Men” chronicles the coming-of-age of Ruth Thomas. Just back from boarding school, Ruth helps out with work on the boats, brushes up on her profanity, and falls for Owney Wishnell, a handsome young lobsterman.


Reviews & Profiles:

 Jonathan Miles, Salon Books

“In this breezily appealing first novel, Elizabeth Gilbert presents us a heroine as smart, sly, plucky and altogether winning as her own prose; it’s difficult, in fact, not to develop a knee-weakening crush on both.”


“Finding an Austin heroine in a lobster boat — an irreverent and observant young woman, reeking of bait — is one of the many delights to be delivered by Elizabeth Gilbert in Stern Men, her beautifully wrought and very funny first novel.”

 LA Times

“Ruth loves her island with a heroine’s passionate wisdom, but she falls in love with a boy from the enemy clan…there’s Romeo and Juliet in the drama of the young lovers.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“A howlingly funny first novel”

New York Times Book Review

“While Elizabeth Gilbert is not the first writer to suggest that smart women have much to teach stern men, she puts the idea forward with rugged power.”

 USA Today

“Rich as drawn butter and as comical as the crawly crustacean itself, Stern Men is high entertainment. Elizabeth Gilbert has penned a Dickensian tale; one wishes it ran in two volumes.”

 Denver Post

“A wonderful novel that will have you laughing out loud, Stern Men is an admirable debut from a writer obviously destined for literary longevity.”

“Stern Men”


“Thank God. Elizabeth Gilbert has written a novel.”


“Gilbert’s storytelling brio and keen intelligence prove irresistible.”

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