The basics: Olive Kitteridge is a set of somewhat interconnected stories (some are more connected than others). Olive Kitteridge is an old, large curmudgeon of a woman who lives on the coast of Maine. She taught math before she retired.Some stories are about Olive, some she plays a supporting role in, and some her name is only mentioned in passing.
The verdict: The six of us were relatively split on the book, and it made for wonderful discussion. I admire Elizabeth Strout, but I didn't love Olive Kitteridge. I'm glad she won the Pulitzer Prize for it because I love the idea of the book, and I think it's an interesting departure for literature. I loved her writing. Her words have a simplicity and an elegance, and she uses sparse language to convey so much action, emotion and observation. I'm certainly glad I read it, and I would recommend it to bibliophiles, but I would not recommend it to irregular readers. It was not always an easy book to read. I am not a big fan of short stories in general, but I loved some stories, liked others and could have done without a few. What I loved most was Olive herself. She is such a dynamic character, and I missed her when the stories veered away from her. As some character names came up more than once, I found myself having trouble remembering if I had met these characters before. (Side note: I have never been more grateful for my Kindle's ability to search within a book. Also, the Wikipedia page on the novel has a wonderful listing of characters, but it does include spoilers.) Mostly it didn't matter, but when the stories started to feel more like a novel, I felt like I was missing something. Overall: it's brilliant, but I didn't love it.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Publication: March 25, 2008 by Random House
Source: I bought it for my Kindle (it's only $5.50)
I do look forward to reading more of Elizabeth Strout's work. Have you read Olive Kitteridge? What did you think? Have you read other Strout books? Would you recommend Abide With Me or Amy and Isabelle?
Next month: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
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