Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge
Elizabeth Strout
3 / 5

Published 2007

First Sentence
"For many years, Henry Kitteridge was a pharmacist in the next town over, driving every morning on snowy roads, or rainy roads, or summertime roads, when the wild raspberries shot their new growth in brambles along the last section of town before he turned off to where the wider road led to the pharmacy."
Publisher's Description:
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 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 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 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. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition--its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

Dear Reader, 

Yeesh. This book should have been called “Everybody Cheats, Sometime” (with a nod to R.E.M., of course). I couldn’t get past how every single character in the book seemed to either be cheating on their spouse or wanting to. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m the biggest cynic I know, so I don’t think it’s necessarily unrealistic! I just would get my hopes up with each story that it would finally be one with a solid couple for once, and then: nope! Foiled each time. This didn’t influence my rating very much, but it was definitely the thing that stuck out the most!

I have had this book on my Audible account forever; I wish I recall why I had added it, specifically. I did finally pick it up though because of the many comparisons to Kitchens of the Great Midwest, and I understand the connections people made: both books tell the story of one woman through the eyes of many others. 

I did love the weaving of the stories of the people who reside in a small town in Maine, each interacting in some way with Olive Kitteridge. It was certainly a New England book. And there were some memorable characters and situations. Olive wasn’t my favorite, by a long shot - she was cranky and ornery 99% of the time. But she was definitely a strong character! And it makes sense why the book ultimately revolves around her - the ending sentence really does tie it all up nicely. 

This book had the feel of a collection of stories, with the neat added bonus that they often subtly referred to one another. Despite some of the difficult subjects it tackled, t felt cozy and the perfect thing for a snowy day in front of the fireplace.


Olive Kitteridge

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