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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
5,591421769 (3.91)301
  1. 50
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    Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (chrisharpe)
  6. 10
    The Edge of Darkness by Mary Ellen Chase (CurrerBell)
    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)
  7. 10
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  11. 10
    The Way to the Cats by Yehoshua Kenaz (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: another crotchety old woman - about whom it's fun to read
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    thelittlematchgirl: both are stories about women some people will find unlikeable and some will want to be friends with.
  15. 00
    The Civilized World by Susi Wyss (ShortStoryLover)
    ShortStoryLover: While the settings in these books are very different, both are collections of linked stories in which the main characters are revealed through a kind of multi-faceted prism, as the reader experiences them not just through the main characters' points view but also through the points of view of the other characters.… (more)
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» See also 301 mentions

English (414)  Catalan (2)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (420)
Showing 1-5 of 414 (next | show all)
Not really sure whether this should be classed as a short story collection or novel, but I did very much enjoy it. One disclaimer: the title character was my least favorite -- a bitter, angry fusspot who reminded me way too much of myself for comfort. However, the other characters were interesting, esp. Olive's long-suffering husband Henry, and that made up for Olive, who would have been completely unbearable if she'd been more in the forefront. ( )
  BooksCatsEtc | Oct 26, 2014 |
Each selection in this "novel in short stories" is wonderfully written and sharply observed, but to me, they didn't add up to a compelling whole. Each story introduced new plots, thematic concerns and characters, and, by the time I got to the later stories I had already forgotten the details of the earlier ones. So, while I liked the core story of prickly Olive, her gentle husband Henry, and her not-so-lovable son Christopher, the rest of the denizens of Crosby, Maine struck me as superfluous. I would have preferred a novel about the Kitteridge family instead. ( )
  akblanchard | Oct 19, 2014 |
"A scared old woman is what she is; all she knows these days is that when the sun goes down, it is time to go to bed. People manage. She is not so sure. The tide is still out on that one, she thinks." (174)

From the Publisher:
"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."

My Review:
An unapologetic atheist, prone to dramatic mood swings, Olive is ferocious, complicated, kind, and sometimes cruel – she is the human in all of us, and, interestingly, the character who Strout reveals was the easiest to write: "Whenever she walked through a door, took a ride in her car, or walked along the river, I felt lucky to follow her." (275)

It’s certainly not difficult to understand how Strout won won the Pulitzer Prize for [Olive Kitteridge], or how the novel made so many Best of 2013 lists. The small town of Crosby, Maine came easily come to life under her guidance, as did its numerous and fabulously real characters – all remarkably unremarkable in and of themselves. Olive herself is unforgettable! Highly, highly recommended.

"... oh, what young people did not know. They did not know that lumpy, aged, and wrinkled bodies were as needy as their own young, firm ones, that love was not to be tossed away carelessly ... she had not known what one should know: that day after day was unconsciously squandered." (270) ( )
4 vote lit_chick | Sep 7, 2014 |
This book starts out like a glass of lemonade sitting on a porch swing on a lazy summer day. It ends like a mug of hot chocolate on Christmas evening with the satisfaction of the gifts and the feast behind you. Somewhere in the middle, though, there's that shot of bourbon that tore its way down your esophagus after your most grisly heartbreak. ( )
  KRaySaulis | Aug 13, 2014 |
Called by Oprah Magazine a novel of stories, Olive Kitteridge does read like a novel, or a collection of short stories, or both. Olive appears in each chapter, sometimes as a central character and sometimes just as a passing reference. Chapter one (or the first story) begins sometime in the 1960s with young Henry, Olive's kind and somewhat henpecked husband, as the central character. The book ends post 9/11 with Henry dead of a stroke and Olive in her mid 70s, a depressed widow, but still finding reason to live and new possibilities. The stories span everything in between and as a collection, you have a very strong impression of Olive, irascible and flawed, but ultimately likeable or at least understandable as all too human. Strout also paints a clear picture of Crosby, Maine and her evocation of place, as well as the hidden, emotional and psychological lives of its inhabitants, reminds me of Alice Monroe's similarly evocative and penetrating fiction. Olive Kitteridge as a person is complex and not always admirable. Olive Kitteridge as a book is sometimes downright depressing. But I could not put it down. ( )
  OccassionalRead | Jul 28, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 414 (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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