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Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
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Olive Kitteridge (2008)

by Elizabeth Strout

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,815427728 (3.92)340
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» See also 340 mentions

English (422)  Catalan (2)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (428)
Showing 1-5 of 422 (next | show all)
Just a perfect example, to me, of how much you can love a book without loving the central character. I don't want to say "main character" or "protagonist" because of the unique style of book. This is a collection of short stories that introduces us and gives us insight into Olive, each in it's own way. Either by being directly about her or her family - or just an interaction between her and the protagnoist of the story, or even just a sighting giving us a tiny piece of her habits or her life. Just fascinating! Loved everything about it...and identified, uncomfortably closely, with Olive. ( )
1 vote tnociti | May 1, 2015 |
Really liked this book, though it wasn't at all what I thought it was going to be when I first started reading it. Did not expect it to have some of the darkness and the depth that it did. I was particularly intrigued by the relationship between Olive and her son - at first not being able to make any sense out of his rejection of her and then experiencing the dawning awareness that the author intended. Not sure that I ever made the level of sense out of the relationship between Olive and her husband that I hoped to. Overall, the writing is quite good. Have not read any of her other works but now thinking that perhaps I will. ( )
  franklinki | Feb 14, 2015 |
Not a novel in the traditional sense with one story arc, instead Strout uses the interconnected vignette to show the life and effect that Olive Kitteridge has in her small town. She is a woman who has many sides to her personality and almost all of them unattractive. My first note about the book is how on earth does Henry stand her? She’s judgemental, paranoid and suffers the hubris that many with low self-esteem have. She hates anyone she feels threatened by (Dr. Sue) and condemns anyone who she thinks is below her. It’s hard to think well of her and few people do. I wondered how differently this book might have been received if Strout had made her a man instead. We tend to forgive these same traits in a man that we revile in a woman. Olive is flawed, as are we all, but she means well. Not exactly a loving curmudgeon, but there are glimmers. You have to wait for them though.

It’s through other people that we see Olive more fully. Sometimes there are moments of kindness and tenderness amid the judgement and manipulation. Any feelings of sympathy, empathy or compassion are reserved for those other people, most of whom have thoughts of, or actually commit, suicide. I guess a life lived too close to Olive Kitteridge makes that seem like a good idea. The most sympathy goes to Henry, who must see something worthwhile in his wife and in the end, when he’s in the nursing home, she does well by him. She also reveals some startling depths of feeling and how much of what she does seems against her will. I think she’d like to act better in some circumstances, and over time I think she bit her tongue more often.

Not all of the stories are equally interesting or feature Olive prominently and some of them I just skimmed. I did like how some introduced entirely new things and others elaborated on previous stories. The time seemed to jump around a lot though and could have used some date stamping along with the chapter titles. I doubt I’ll revisit the book, but I don’t regret the time I spent with it. ( )
1 vote Bookmarque | Feb 8, 2015 |
I am sure that I have read this book before, but I couldn't find the record of it.
'Olive is a little of each of us'.
This novel is about human nature. It is not a direct narrative, but episodic with related short stories.
I read it a couple of times in preparation for leading the discussion and I enjoyed it more each time. There is a lot of talk of suicide and infidelity as well as other very sad situations in life. But it is an interesting look at many of life's situations. It points out that we are all flawed and searching for love and connection. ( )
  bettyroche | Jan 30, 2015 |
Another book that made me exceedingly cranky. My first thought was: Here is an author who doesn't trust her material. I want to send her back to read her Chekhov again, to learn that a good short story does NOT need a character who commits suicide, runs off, endures a tragic stroke, commits disconcerting adulteries, falls off a cliff, is held hostage while nearly naked, or dies of starvation. I have forgotten some. I was numb trying to figure out who and how many people had shot their brains out or otherwise killed themselves with abnormal aplomb. Every one of these stories has some sort of a ridiculous, spiteful, implausibly violent event in it.

My second thought was that the author seems to have never been to Maine. The down-east caricatures in this novel-in-stories became more and more confusingly drawn and unpleasant as the book progressed. ( )
  poingu | Jan 29, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 422 (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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Epigraph
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

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.

Stories:
Pharmacy
Incoming Tide
The Piano Player
A Little Burst
Starving
A Different Road
Winter Concert
Tulips
Basket of Trips
Ship in a Bottle
Security
Criminal
River
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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