Author: Elizabeth Strout
Rating: 4 out of 5
Challenges: Take Another Chance (#4: Pulitzer Prize); Rainbow (O); and my book group
FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money
Summary (from the back of the book): AT times stern, at other times patient, at time perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a pst romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive's own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, 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.
Review: Ok, like everyone else, I don't really like Olive, the person/character. But, like everyone else, that's ok. She is ornery, nasty, unhappy, and sometimes mean, but she makes the book interesting. Unlike everyone else, I didn't love this book. I liked it a lot and enjoyed reading it, but it isn't one of my top books.
Each time a chapter or story ended, I wanted more of those characters. I guess I am just someone who wants a longer version of each of these stories. However, I did like the way that Olive was the connecting piece among the characters. I thought that was interesting and clever: showing us Olive through 13 different sets of people.
Here's what I did like about the book:
- The characters are believable! I felt as if I really knew them very quickly and had a good idea of what their town was like. I feel like if I went there I would see the people Strout wrote about and know (and I mean know) them, perhaps even understand them. I also liked Olive a lot more by the end, and especially because of the last chapter (I won't give anything away). We finally see a slightly softer side and I had hopes that she might find happiness. I also really liked Henry; there was just something safe and secure about him. And, he truly cared about Olive.
- The setting. I've been to Maine and could picture this small town along a rocky coast. As a teacher one really gets to know so many of a small town's occupants and Olive had that connection through her past career.
- The writing is fluid, easy, interesting, and full of...stuff. It really is good.
The copy I have of this book also had a "Conversation with Elizabeth Strout and Olive Kitteridge" in the back. I really liked this a lot! It was very clever how Olive was included in the interview; it gave me even more insight into the character, which I liked.
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