finch917, January 23, 2015 (view all comments by finch917)
Strout does not paint in the big, broad strokes of a large-scale canvas, but in the minute, deftly chosen and intimate details that make each character -- no matter how seemingly inconsequential to the whole of the book -- breathing, real and fantastically flawed human beings. And to see a character like Olive Kitteridge not through the lens of her own first-person narrative, but through the eyes of those who love her, hate her, fear her, misunderstand her, or pity her, seems to transcend the boundaries we experience in most fiction. Olive doesn't feel like a character; she feels like a neighbor. And one you're not likely to think highly of...until you truly understand her. The writing is exquisite, and Strout's ability to present her reader with such an acerbic, even downright unpleasant character, and send the two on a journey through which that character becomes sympathetic to the point of breaking your heart, is deserving of every accolade Olive Kitteridge has brought her.
Danielle Mosier, October 17, 2010 (view all comments by Danielle Mosier)
This novel is told through a series of short stories or vignettes, some featuring, and some only mentioning the title character, Olive Kitteridge. The shifting perspectives, and web of relationships depicted remind the reader that we are who we are based on the relationships we keep, how we treat each other, how we interact. Sometimes we're blind to the way our actions affect others, even when we're acutely aware of how others' actions affect us.
As ornery and harsh as she is sometimes depicted, the reader gets glimpses of Olive's tenderness... but more than that, we see that Olive is what most people are not: unabashedly honest. She is real in a way that exudes a sense of being alive and present, even if it is not always pleasant. It made me want to be like her, in that way... not that I want to do and say the things she says and does, but that I want to be more genuine.
I also appreciated the very real historical backdrop of the novel. Olive lives in OUR world and time, and recent events impact her, and she has opinions about them (how could she not?).
I'd recommend this book to anyone going through or who has gone through major life events, or as Olive would say, "big bursts."
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z-girl44, March 1, 2010 (view all comments by z-girl44)
I did not feel like this book lived up to the ratings and reviews. It was a hauntingly depressing book to read. I do like how Elizabeth Stout set up each chapter as if they were a book of their own, and I like her writing style, But I did not fall in love with any of the characters and felt that each chapter left to many unanswered questions about the secondary characters.
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L J Rod, January 22, 2010 (view all comments by L J Rod)
In Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout opens our hearts to a complicated woman and to stories of truth, ugliness, and beauty. Do we love Olive or do we hate Olive?
John Gardner held that fiction has value not just because it entertains and distracts us from out troubles, and not only because it widens our scope and increases our knowledge of people and places, but because it helps us know what we believe, affirms what is noble in us, and leads us to feel uneasy about our limitations.
One thing I'm sure of, the reader won't be the same after reading Olive Kitteridge.
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Roseamber R., October 31, 2009 (view all comments by Roseamber R.)
I knew right away I was reading that rare gem of an adult book that sticks with you for a long time afterwards. Olive Kitteridge is a character one can empathize with while seriously questioning. She proves our humanity, she distills our griefs and losses, she endures while she shows us her weaknesses. I love her, not always liking her. She reminds me of my mother and myself. The other characters woven into these short stories are just as compelling and make me want to follow their threads beyond the book's patterns. I finished the book reluctantly with a large sigh and breathed a private message to Elizabeth Strout~ "Bravo!"
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Random House (NY) -
Set on the coast of Maine, this fantastic Pulitzer Prize winner (2009) is a terrific character study. Olive is an irascible, crabby old lady who is difficult to like. Yet, as her life, marriage, and story play out, her character changes in ways that are wholly believable. This novel runs the gamut of human emotion and delicately exposes the secret inner workings of the human condition. Beautifully written, Olive Kitteridge is a book I didn't much expect to like but how wrong I was.
by Library Journal,
"With the deft, piercing shorthand that is her short storytelling trademark, [Strout] takes readers below the surface of deceptive small-town ordinariness to expose the human condition in all its suffering and sadness."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"A perfectly balanced portrait of the human condition, encompassing plenty of anger, cruelty and loss without ever losing sight of the equally powerful presences of tenderness, shared pursuits and lifelong loyalty."
New York Times bestselling author Strout binds together 13 rich, luminous narratives through the presence of one larger-than-life, unforgettable character: Olive Kitteridge, who offers profound insights into the human condition.
A wise and entertaining novel about a woman who has lived life on her own terms for seventy-five defiant and determined years, only to find herself suddenly thrust to the center of her family's various catastrophes.
A wise and entertaining novel about a woman who has lived life on her own terms for seventy-five defiant and determined years, only to find herself suddenly thrust to the center of her familys various catastrophes Meet Florence Gordon: blunt, brilliant, cantankerous and passionate, feminist icon to young women, invisible to almost everyone else. At seventy-five, Florence has earned her right to set down the burdens of family and work and shape her legacy at long last. But just as she is beginning to write her long-deferred memoir, her son Daniel returns to New York from Seattle with his wife and daughter, and they embroil Florence in their dramas, clouding the clarity of her days and threatening her well-defended solitude. And then there is her left foot, which is starting to drag….
With searing wit, sophisticated intelligence, and a tender respect for humanity in all its flaws, Brian Morton introduces a constellation of unforgettable characters. Chief among them, Florence, who can humble the fools surrounding her with one barbed line, but who eventually finds there are realities even she cannot outwit.
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
In a voice more powerful and compassionate than ever before, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Strout binds together thirteen rich, luminous narratives into a book with the heft of a novel, through the presence of one larger-than-life, unforgettable character: Olive Kitteridge.
At the edge of the continent, Crosby, Maine, may seem like nowhere, but seen through this brilliant writer’s eyes, it’s in essence the whole world, and the lives that are lived there are filled with all of the grand human drama–desire, despair, jealousy, hope, and love.
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.
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