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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
5,498418790 (3.92)280
  1. 50
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  6. 10
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    CurrerBell: Maine regionalism can often be at its best when written as a collection of short stories, character studies, or vignettes all united around a single character, as in the case of Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge, Mary Ellen Chase's The Edge of Darkness, and Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs.… (more)
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» See also 280 mentions

English (408)  Catalan (2)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (415)
Showing 1-5 of 408 (next | show all)
This book took really long for me to finish. The novel is actually a collection of short stories of people somehow connected to Olive Kitteridge. It was a very depressing read, none of the stories really caught my interest, and the way some of the characters were connected with Olive was tangential at best. ( )
  artikaur | Jul 22, 2014 |
The titular heroine of this novel-as-a-series-of-short-stories only appears glancingly toward the end of the opening quietly powerful story, “Pharmacy.” That story focuses instead on Henry Kitteridge, who is sensitive, forgiving, and somewhat stunted emotionally. It is a beautiful tale that covers a few decades and gently paints a picture of a man and a locale, a small town on the coast of Maine. Sadness abounds. As does death, conflicted emotions, a certain kind of fatalism, and a regimented isolation of one individual from the next. These motifs populate most of the stories in this collection which collectively chip away at the outline of Olive Kitteridge.

The best of the stories share the obliqueness of “Pharmacy”. I would single out“Incoming Tide,” “The Piano Player,” and “Starving.” At some point, Strout must have felt the need for a bit more directness and linearity. Thus we find a few stories with Olive front and centre. But these can have a forced quality. Not merely because in many respects Olive is unlikable. Rather because, having taken up this interesting method of telling her tale, the reader might feel as though the author has abandoned her promise, or lost her nerve. I would have preferred even more obliqueness, keeping Olive Kitteridge at the furthest reaches. But perhaps that is just a personal preference.

Certainly all of the stories here are competently written. But inevitably there will be some unevenness. Some short stories will simply work better than others, even for the best of writers. And that is part of what makes this a risky strategy for a novelist. After all, Strout never relinquishes the synoptic view. The reader will feel from the first through to the last story that the author has had this all worked out in advance. But that itself somewhat undermines the point of the partial view that the short story insists upon. And so I’m torn. The result is very good but you may come away thinking it could have been even better.

Gently recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Jun 30, 2014 |
Collection of short stories with a strand of continuity of characters. Follows a women's life in a small town. A variety of characters intertwine the stories with interesting and very true life's. ( )
  mechristie54 | Jun 18, 2014 |
Olive Kitteridge is one of many slow-moving, but interesting characters in the Northeastern town of Crosby, Maine. The book is made up of singular storylines where you meet new characters and get detailed glimpses into their depressing personal situations. The only common denominator linking the stories is Olive, who despite her rough manner, seems to have a saving effect on people - accept for that of her own family.

I think Elizabeth Strout writes extremely well. And while I didn't really understand what message she was trying to convey in her story, I was pulled into it nevertheless. I liked the book because of Strout's writing, but I wouldn't say I loved the story. ( )
  SuzanneML | May 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 408 (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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
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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