Monday, November 16, 2009

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge is a beautifully written novel about the complexities of perception and human existence. It won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was our November Kewaunee Library Book Club pick.

Olive Kitteridge is made up of thirteen short stories about various people who live in the small town of Crosby, Maine. They are all interlinked by the appearance of Olive Kitteridge. Olive is sometimes a main character, sometimes a strong secondary, and other times just a person that is only briefly seen or mentioned. Overall, this makes a very compelling portrait of Olive Kitteridge. Olive is a wife, mother, and teacher. She is viewed differently from all angles.

I thought it was a very interesting study on perception. You are viewed as someone completely different by those who know you throughout your life in different capacities. The most compelling portrait in the book to me was how Olive viewed her son and the way she raised him as compared to how in turn he viewed her and his upbringing. It was tragic to see Olive’s perceptions shattered in a confrontation with her son.

The descriptions, characters, and writing were wonderful. I at times had a hard time with the character of Olive. She is quite the character and not always a woman you can love. A lot of the stories are rather depressing, but overall I enjoyed the book. I’ve thought about it a lot since I finished reading it on Friday. It is a deep book and rather hard to describe in a review!

I had many favorite quotes, but I picked out two to share.

“God, I love young people, “Harmon said. “They get griped about enough. People like to think the younger generation’s job is to steer the world to hell. But it’s never true, is it? They’re hopeful and good – and that’s how it should be.”

I can agree with that. I get tired of people always thinking the generation younger than them is more evil than before!

“People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it.”

That is certainly true. People, myself included, tend to think about the future and not just enjoy the now. This book also seemed to have a theme of enjoying and living life now and not taking it and your loved ones for granted.

Overall, this book is a must read.

Book Source: The Kewaunee Public Library


  1. This is a great review! I read this not to long ago and thought it was an interesting book. Olive's not that likeable but there are moments when I really felt for her. Especially the one where her son is getting married.

  2. Super review. I tend to see younger people as full of hope and promise. :)

  3. I've wanted to read this book for a while! I rented it form the online audio at my library but lost it when I installed Windows 7 so didn't get the chance to listen to it. Will have to borrow it again!

  4. Thank you for the geat review, Laura. This is one I really hope to read one day. I love the idea of a book told through a series of different perspectives.

  5. Thanks for the review Laura...this one caught my eye quite some time ago, but obviously I need to move it up on my list.

  6. I've heard the same thing about Olive from others who have read the book. Glad that it's worthwhile.

  7. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. It does sound a little complex, but very interesting. Perhaps it would be a good book for my book club.

  8. Excellent review of an excellent book! It may very well end up on my list of favorites for the year.