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Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge (2008)

by Elizabeth Strout

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,144506761 (3.92)505
  1. 71
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  2. 60
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  4. 72
    Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave (sarah-e)
  5. 51
    Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (gust, ainsleytewce)
    gust: Ook een verhalenbundel met terugkerende personages in de verschillende verhalen
  6. 30
    Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (chrisharpe)
  7. 20
    Moral Disorder and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Both tell the life story of a woman in short story form, with compassion and an unflinching eye.
  8. 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)
  9. 10
    Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters (ainsleytewce)
  10. 10
    Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro (ainsleytewce)
  11. 10
    The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld (thelittlematchgirl)
    thelittlematchgirl: both are stories about women some people will find unlikeable and some will want to be friends with.
  12. 10
    Tunu by Kim Leine (2810michael)
    2810michael: Mest pga opbygningen med novelleagtige kapitler, der portrætterer en by og dens personer
  13. 10
    The Way to the Cats by Yehoshua Kenaz (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: another crotchety old woman - about whom it's fun to read
  14. 10
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  15. 10
    Cool Water by Dianne Warren (lkernagh, mymia)
  16. 10
    The Evening Star by Larry McMurtry (Ciruelo)
    Ciruelo: A strong willed and contrary woman is the foundation of each book.
  17. 00
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    akblanchard: Short stories set in small-town New England
  18. 11
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  19. 00
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    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)
  20. 23
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(see all 20 recommendations)


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» See also 505 mentions

English (499)  Catalan (4)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (509)
Showing 1-5 of 499 (next | show all)
Beautifully done. She showed, she didn't tell, and the process of the reader making judgments about the characters felt like the point of the book. Thank goodness Olive redeemed herself in the last few pages, and I was able to yet again change my mind about her. ( )
  karolynslowsky | Jul 22, 2018 |
Wonderful writing... ( )
  LadyVivace | Jul 13, 2018 |
When I began this book, I was unsure how I was going to like it. The first story was interesting and I felt I had gotten to know Henry, but then it was over and the second story seemed to have little to do with the first. However, as the book progressed, I found myself loving the depth of the characters in the vignettes and the recurring characters of Olive and Henry that popped in and out, sometimes as full players and sometimes as sidebars.

Olive is one of those characters we hate to have anything in common with. We don’t want to recognize her, or relate to her, or think she mirrors us in any way, but we do. I did not like Olive, but I understood her far better than I like to admit. I wanted to ask her to look in the mirror and try to see what others saw when they looked at her. She lived in denial, it was her survival mechanism, and she paid a penalty that was painful at times to behold.

Strout is an excellent writer and beneath her eloquent prose are important messages and insights.

"...after all, life was a gift--that one of those things about getting older was knowing that so many moments weren't just moments, they were gifts. And how nice, really, that people should celebrate with such earnestness this time of year. No matter what people's lives might hold (some of these houses they were passing would have to hold some woeful tribulations), still and all, people were compelled to celebrate because they knew somehow, in their different ways, that life was a thing to celebrate."

She understands the dynamics between people, how complex relationships are, how hurtful just living can be, and how lonely it is sometimes, even in the company of others. In the end, I thought the style in which the story was presented was inspired. It allowed us to see so many characters up-close, to get a sense of the community at large, and still to feel we had made the trip with Olive alone.
( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
I couldn't finish this. Boring book about a boring woman that is doomed to make it into future English lit class required reading lists. ( )
  Thebrownbookloft | Jun 29, 2018 |
How can a critical, ornery, self-absorbed character, totally lacking in empathy and manners, become the latest rage in fiction? Well, however it can happen, the popularity of Olive Kitteridge was clearly evident in our group discussion with nearly everyone giving high scores and great praise to Strout for her writing style and character depth.

Without exception there was praise for the short story style and how the whole community was introduced through Olive. A sense of place was quickly created and moving stories of the human condition found a spot in our hearts … just as the author intended, we are sure.

While not a page turner, the readability of Olive was also commented on, ‘ … happy to pick it up’ , and ‘ … couldn’t wait to read on’, were some of the remarks. Others suggested that the writing was pleasant to read because it was ‘not over the top’ or pretentious, and would not hesitate to recommended it as a ‘really good read’.

Quite often a concurring opinion can lead to a somewhat stilted conversation, but in this case we had a lively and completely satisfying discussion with plenty of laughs and recollecting of characters and narratives. In the end the only disagreement came from the likability of Olive. Some grew to like, or at least feel sorry for her, while others continued to loathe her. Which ever the case, we all agreed that Olive Kitteridge, as unlikeable as she might be, was a most interesting character to read about.

Dapto Tuesday Book Club

Fundamentally, a reader looks for positives with a novel’s protagonist. Relating to a character’s situation, emotions and circumstances is what commonly keeps us interested in a character led story.

And then along comes Olive Kitteridge. Her cantankerous and eccentric ways work well to push, not only those around her away, but also the reader. But as a group we found that if you stick with it, Olive becomes a little more transparent and the vulnerable and even sensitive woman begins to appear. So needless to say, most of us took a while to get into the novel, but the eventual enjoyment value was a good pay off and backed with a quality HBO series, thought to be a great little story.

Although the series (thankfully) did not stray too far from the story line, it was not able to expand the other characters to the degree the book did, which certainly goes a long way to building on and emphasising Olive’s character.

We were able to have a good discussion on personalities, relationships and family dynamics. Someone commented that Olive got a little too relatable … ‘what if my kids see me like that …’ and ‘what we show on the outside determines how others see us’.

As uncomfortable as some of these issues can be, it was a positive lesson on not always taking someone at face value. If we had closed the book after Olive’s first bad-tempered act, we never would have discovered the more caring and good-natured side of Olive Kitteridge. Which would have been a real shame.

Dapto Monday Night Book Club ( )
  jody12 | Jun 18, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 499 (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 (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Stroutprimary authorall editionscalculated
Burr, SandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Castoldi, SilviaTranslatorsecondary 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.
He wanted to put his arms around her, but she had a darkness that seemed to stand beside her like an acquaintance that would not go away. - "Pharmacy"
Angie... felt she had figured something out too late, and that must be the way of life, to get something figured out when it was too late. - "The Piano Player"
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

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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