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Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge (2008)

by Elizabeth Strout

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,911437707 (3.92)351
  1. 50
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» See also 351 mentions

English (432)  Catalan (2)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (438)
Showing 1-5 of 432 (next | show all)
I am not sure I really like Olive Kitteridge. The book, I liked. The character...well. She is not a woman to be taken lightly, or ignored. She is a bore, a bully, an emotional bag of wind and well you get the picture. At least I think she is. Then again...

Let me try to explain.

This is one of those books that I had to keep asking myself if I really liked. There are TONS of characters and it doesn't seem to really fit together until you are way into the book. And each chapter has a cameo at least of Olive..she is the glue, or the peanut butter or at least the sticky jam that makes it hang together.

The book is a little like window peeking. As the reader, you are walking down the street in small town Maine (or Vermont ) and pausing at each house to listen in to what is really happening behind the doors. This is not the glitzy, sweet small town glimpse that idolizes the drugstore and the quaint seaside village with it's church steeples and odd characters. Instead, it's more like what people look like first thing in the morning without makeup or brushed teeth. It's a bit raw and uncomfortable...and that's precisely when Olive seems to appear.

But, there is a part of Olive, buried deeply in the rolls of her ample body, that is able to pause with her hand on the spiked haired head of an anorexic girl. This Olive tears up without wanting to, meaning to, or hardly even realizing as she talks to her dear husband Henry on the phone after his stroke. She is a bundle of opposites. She hates to be at home alone, but she also hates the jobs and people that are out there...

Life isn't what she expected...but she didn't really have any expectations...

I really liked the complicated pictures of the people in this book. I liked that I was often a bit confused. I liked that I didn't like Olive and then she took me totally by surprise. I liked that New England was not perfect and Norman Rockwellish. I liked that even when Olive took a step forward - like reconciling with her son - she still messed up and panicked and ended up right back where she started. I liked that the story just ended.

So - I guess it's ok not to love the main character, not to even like her most of the time, and end up with a book that makes me wonder and ponder and revisit. ( )
  kebets | Sep 14, 2015 |
This is a novel created from linked short stories. Olive Kitteridge, a large, angry woman, makes an appearance in all of the stories and ends up being the focus of the book. Each story is sad in some way, and the sum total of the book is depressing except that Strout injects a dark humor.

I found the writing well-done, but my confession is that I really didn't like this book that everybody seems to love. I found the format of linked stories maddening. In so many of them you don't even get the whole story of what is going on and then it's on to the next sad life. There is some linking between the stories and a few answers, but I would have rather just read a straight ahead novel about Olive. I think that linking them so that you see the same characters over and over but don't get any development was just torture. Ok, you get some subtle development, but it could have been so much more in a different format!

This just wasn't for me. ( )
  japaul22 | Sep 6, 2015 |
Series of tales revolving around an overbearing math teacher in Maine. I'm usually not a fan of this episodic type of story-telling, but Strout connects her stories seamlessly and develops the characters with great skill,. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her efforts. ( )
  VashonJim | Sep 5, 2015 |
In Crosby, Maine, Olive Kitteridge lives and interacts with her neighbors, family and acquaintances. Snippets of their lives are revealed in a series of vignettes, with Olive emerging over and over again as a key player. Don't expect to fall in love with the protagonist in this novel. She is stubborn, salty and contentious. But the probing exploration of the complexities of character, the difficulties of living, the unending effort to "get it right" and the inevitable failure we all experience, make this book a very satisfying and thought provoking read. ( )
  turtlesleap | Aug 19, 2015 |
Six stars. Remarkable. If you only ever read one collection of short stories, chose this one. These are all connected around one central, ferocious and funny character: Olive Kitteridge. ( )
  KristinAkerHowell | Aug 15, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 432 (next | show all)
Each of the 13 tales serves as an individual microcosm of small-town life, with its gossip, small kindnesses, and everyday tragedies. Not all the minor characters stand out the way Henry and Olive do, and there are a pile of them to keep straight by the end. I also couldn’t quite place how one story, “Ship in a Bottle,” meshed with the rest. But those are small flaws far outweighed by the book’s compassion and intelligence.
The pleasure in reading “Olive Kitteridge” comes from an intense identification with complicated, not always admirable, characters. And there are moments in which slipping into a character’s viewpoint seems to involve the revelation of an emotion more powerful and interesting than simple fellow feeling—a complex, sometimes dark, sometimes life-sustaining dependency on others.

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Stroutprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burr, SandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my mother who can make life magical and is the best storyteller I know.
First words
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.
Olive had sat in her bedroom and wept like a baby, not so much for this country but for the city itself, which had seemed to her to become suddenly no longer a foreign, hardened place, but as fragile as a class of kindergarten children, brave in their terror.
She showed him the library built the year before Henry's stroke, with its cathedral ceilng and skylights. He looked at the books, and she wanted to say, "Stop that," as though he were reading her diary.
Who, who, does not have their basket of trips.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book 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 into a deeper understanding of herself and her life - sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty.

Incoming Tide
The Piano Player
A Little Burst
A Different Road
Winter Concert
Basket of Trips
Ship in a Bottle
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

At the edge of the continent, in the small town of Crosby, Maine, lives Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher who deplores the changes in her town and in the world at large but doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her.

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