Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Published November 19, 2019

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Book info

  • Title Olive Kitteridge
  • Author Elizabeth Strout
  • Year 2008
  • Genres Short Stories, Literary Fiction

Olive Kitteridge: indomitable, compassionate and often unpredictable. A retired schoolteacher in a small coastal town in Maine, as she grows older she struggles to make sense of the changes in her life. She is a woman who sees into the hearts of those around her, their triumphs and tragedies. We meet her stoic husband, bound to her in a marriage both broken and strong, and a young man who aches for the mother he lost - and whom Olive comforts by her mere presence, while her own son feels overwhelmed by her complex sensitivities. A penetrating, vibrant exploration of the human soul, the story of Olive Kitteridge will make you laugh, nod in recognition, wince in pain, and shed a tear or two.


Oprah’s latest book pick is the sequel to this, the original adventures of one Olive Kitteridge. I’m always one to start at the beginning so I dived headfirst into this and I loved it. It’s a series of stories from a small coastal town in Maine, that are standalone but intertwine and gradually tell the story of Olive and those who interact with her.

There’s a general feeling of melancholy throughout the book. People are dealing with the death of loved ones, or tragic things that have happened in their past, or the breakdown of marriages, or just the simple fact of getting older and dealing with loneliness. It’s moving and tender but it grabs you and thrusts you into the heart of each scene.

I felt like I was there, in that pharmacy, as we learned about Henry’s friendship (and more?) with Denise. I was walking along that path when Olive stumbled across a man lying in her path. It’s an impressive feat for a book to sweep you along with the minutiae of a variety of lives, to plunk you down in the middle of someone’s crisis and expect you to catch up and get with it, without too much hand-holding.

Oh, I loved it and I can’t wait to read the second one.

Rating: 5 / 5

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