Friday, October 23, 2009

Review: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Book Info:
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Paperback: 304 pages Publisher: Random House (September 30, 2008)
ISBN-13: 9780812971835
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Rating: 4.5/5

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


Anonymous said...

I loved this book!! A great read.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

glad u liked this one. the audio version was terrific too.

Darlene said...

Glad to see you liked this one. My book club is looking to read it in December.

Tina said...

It's a wonderful glad you liked it. I had a bit of trouble with it the first time I read it, but came back to it in a group read, and now have it on my 'favorites' list.

Jenny said...

I liked this book too. The other book by her I liked was Amy and Isabelle. It's very different from this one, though.

Unknown said...

Olive will probably make it to my top ten reads of 2009 list. I agree with your review completely. I didn't know she had other books out there. Somehow I had the impression that this was her first one. I'll look for Amy and Isabelle.

Zibilee said...

So glad that you enjoyed this book! I just bought it after reading so many good reviews about it. I have read Amy and Isabelle by the same author, and I thought it was a really good read. I definitely recommend it if you haven't read it already.

Marie Cloutier said...

I loved Olive Kitteridge so much. I read it for the Twitter book club over the summer, and it was just such a delight. So glad you liked it too! :-)