Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Paperback: 304 pages Publisher: Random House (September 30, 2008)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance: a former student who has lost the will to live: Olive's own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse. As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life -- sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty.
I received Olive Kitteridge a while back from LibraryThing Early Reviewers. I put the book off because I was a bit intimidated by it being a Pulitzer Prize winner. I was afraid the book was one that I would struggle through, and I am happy to say these fears were completely unfounded. Olive Kitteridge was very readable, very enjoyable and one book I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to others.
Olive is a fascinating character. I love how you get to know her through stories that feature her, as well as those where she plays a very small part. Olive isn't the most likeable character, but she is one that I got. I understood her motivations and her reactions, and I think most people can find a little of themselves in her. I was a little surprised at how small a role Olive played in some of the stories, but each glimpse and mention of her added a little more to her character.
I loved the format of Olive Kitteridge. The novel told in stories worked wonderfully. Olive was the force holding all the pieces together, but the stories of Olive's neighbors were beautiful too. I loved the small town feel, where everyone knew each other and their paths often overlapped. I have Strout's other books and can't wait to dig them out now. 4.5 stars