- Fizzy Thoughts: Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Olive Kitteridge
Elizabeth Strout
October 2008
286 pages

This book was nothing like what I expected, and I think I loved it even more than I would have had it been the book I was expecting. I thought I was going to read about the title character, Olive, who I believed would be a bitter, crotchety old woman. What I ended up reading was a collection of subtle short stories. The stories ranged from those that focused completely on Olive, to those that only referenced her in passing. Okay, yes, this is a novel. But the chapters really felt like short stories to me.

Together these stories hint at the life of a complex woman. We only get a glimpse of Olive. There are things in her past that are touched on, yet never quite revealed. And there are sides to her that are alluded to, yet never explained. Yes, Olive is abrasive and blunt. Yet, some people perceive her as incredibly empathetic and understanding.

Olive Kitteridge is also the story of a town, as many of the chapters focus on other people living in or visiting Crosby, a small, fictional town in Maine.

I tried really hard to explain this book to my uncle at Christmas. I did about as good as a job then as I’m doing now. It’s a simple book, yet it’s still difficult to describe why I actually enjoyed it so much. I guess I’d just sum it up with:

Beautifully done, Ms. Strout.

11 comment(s):

literatehousewife said...

I am so excited about your review. I downloaded this from Audible earlier this month. I haven't read anything else by this author, but it was one of Entertainment Weekly's best of 2008. Since The Lace Reader and The Gargoyle were on their worst list (and I loved TG), I figured that it could go either way.

Bogsider said...

Just wanted to pop by and wish you a happy new year. I have much to be thankful for, but cannot wait for 2008 to be over. Had an annus horribilis this year where things which were beyond my control happened and I am looking so much forward to 2009 which I am determined shall be better. I will definitely work for it to be a better year than 2008.



bermudaonion said...

I've had this on my wish list for a while. Glad to see it's a good one.

Eva said...

I love connected short story collections! This one sounds good. :)

cali said...

Sounds like another one for the towering TBR stack!

Have you read "Dewey - The Small-Town Library Cat?" It's also about a town/city in Iowa. It's also about the steady empowerment of the woman who wrote it. Anyway, it's about much more than a ginger tabby with old soul eyes and a great capacity for love despite a rocky kittenhood. I enjoy books that provide and satisfying sense of place.

anne said...

Just wanted to wish you and hamburger Happy New Year!! Look forward to reading more of your interesting posts in 2009!

Pam said...

I think the best books are those that are hard to describe as to why they are so good!

Charley said...

This sounds interesting. Sometimes it's nice when a book turns out to be different than you originally thought.

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

I saw Elizabeth Strout at an author's breakfast in October; in fact, she read from *Olive Kitteridge* that morning.

I should have picked up the book then, as my book group is discussing it next week on the 6th, and I don't have a copy ... off to the bookstore!

Thanks for the review; I'm glad the book worked out for you (beyond words :) )

Wendy said...

Glad to see you liked this one as I did, Jill!

Joanne said...

I must be a complete moron - the other day at the bookstore I searched high and low for a book written by Olive Kitteridge. Then again the 10 or so employees who had no idea what I was looking for must be worse than moronic (right?):P

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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