Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge

Book rating: 05 Hardback

By (author) Elizabeth Strout

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  • Publisher: Random House Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 270 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 241mm x 30mm | 476g
  • Publication date: 25 March 2008
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 140006208X
  • ISBN 13: 9781400062089
  • Edition: 1
  • Sales rank: 108,729

Product description

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE - NOW AN HBO MINISERIES In a voice more powerful and compassionate than ever before, "New York Times" bestselling author Elizabeth Strout binds together thirteen rich, luminous narratives into a book with the heft of a novel, through the presence of one larger-than-life, unforgettable character: Olive Kitteridge. At the edge of the continent, Crosby, Maine, may seem like nowhere, but seen through this brilliant writer's eyes, it's in essence the whole world, and the lives that are lived there are filled with all of the grand human drama-desire, despair, jealousy, hope, and love. 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. "Olive Kitteridge" offers profound insights into the human condition-its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

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Author information

Elizabeth Strout is the author of "Abide with Me," a national bestseller and Book Sense pick, and "Amy and Isabelle," which won the "Los Angeles Times "Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including "The New Yorker "and "O: The Oprah Magazine." She is on the faculty of the MFA program at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina, and lives in New York City.

Customer reviews

By Claudia Rispoli 25 Feb 2010 5

As in a cubist painting, we observe Olive Kitteridge from lots of subjective points of view and different distances, as if we were taking a picture of her zooming with a powerful camera. However hateful and sullen we may find her at the beginning, sometimes almost rude and disrespectful of the fellow man, at the end Olive will be one of us, and her microcosm will look like ours, with our neighbours, friends, relatives, acquaintances, colleagues or simple local residents.
In the calm and rural Maine, Olive was a maths teacher, more feared than respected, just for her apparently detached and standoffish attitude. She is the wife of a good man, friendly and beloved, the chemist Henry, who often bears in silence his wife's outbursts even in front of their son, Christopher, a silent, introvert and not very loving boy who will become a distant son, more interested in his own businesses than in keeping in contact with his elderly parents.
Under different aspects and with dramatic depths and features probably only hinted, but very real and tangible, the events of Olive's family bring to our mind the Lamberts of The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. The relationships, moulded in reciprocal silence and detachment, and nourished by years of low head and carelessness, become chronic when age proceeds, parents become fragile and stubborn elderly people and their children turn into selfish adults, too busy and probably still hurt by past incommunicability.
The same happens among Olive, her husband and her son, while around them the small community of Crosby lives, shaken by what Olive herself defines big explosions (marriages, children, illnesses and so on) and little explosions (a smiling salesman, an unexpected kindness).
Elizabeth Strout writes well. She depicts in few traits people, stories, places, gestures, all with a great skill. The tales which compose this book are all like pearls in a necklace, they all have their own identity, a completeness and a meaning that few authors can give to this short literary genre, and they leave the reader satisfied and without the usual disappointment caused by the unfinished state or the superficiality of what they read. All the tales, all the characters (among them sooner or later Olive's stout figure shows off) are permeated by a sort of wrong-footed melancholy for passing time, for the feelings - which are never sugary, even when they are deep and sincere - and for daily routine made of tulip bulbs to plant, shopping to do and dogs to take out.
Olive is a bit like all of us, when we are rude and don't want to but we fear to let ourselves go; when we would like that the affection we feel could be perceived under our surface; when a teardrop or a smile escape and we turn aside to hide ourselves from the world.

Review quote

NAMED A BEST BOOK" "OF 2008 BY": People USA Today The Atlantic The Washington Post Book World Seattle Post-Intelligencer Entertainment Weekly The Christian Science Monitor San Francisco Chronicle Salon San Antonio Express-News Chicago Tribune The Wall Street Journal " "From the Trade Paperback edition."