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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
7,156508765 (3.92)509
  1. 71
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    Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave (sarah-e)
  5. 51
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  7. 20
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  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)
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    thelittlematchgirl: both are stories about women some people will find unlikeable and some will want to be friends with.
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    SqueakyChu: another crotchety old woman - about whom it's fun to read
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» See also 509 mentions

English (500)  Catalan (4)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (510)
Showing 1-5 of 500 (next | show all)
I usually wholeheartedly agree that a book won the Pulitzer Prize or I wholeheartedly disagree. This one I'm on the fence. I don't love it, I don't hate it. And that is quite odd for a Pulitzer winner for me. These are connected stories that somehow mention Olive Kitteridge in them, even if for only a sentence. I can see why the author thought the reader would need breaks from Olive to visit other characters, and I think that was a good choice. The variety of characters is interesting and gave a portrait of a small town in Maine. I was going to say a lovely portrait, but these are some characters who are going through some things. Very miserable things, left and right. I think the book made a tear spring to my eye about four times. Though the book is about the struggles that any human being can and will go through in life, I'm not sure it was enough to win the Pulitzer. Some of the connections to Olive seemed thrown together to make it a running theme in the book. Sometimes the writing is too straightforward for me to consider it award worthy. But this easily could have been a wistful, cheesy sort of book and this certainly isn't that. Maybe it needed a little less misery, but it remains realistic. ( )
  booklove2 | Aug 29, 2018 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 500 (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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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.
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.

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.

» see all 8 descriptions

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