Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout is a book of short stories- well maybe not short stories but chapters which are separate but which link back to Olive Kitteridge in some way. I wasn’t expecting this. For some reason I thought it was a full length novel about Olive Kitteridge. Now anyone who reads my blog knows that I’m not a fan of short stories but I will say I enjoyed this book although not as much as I would have had it been a full length story. I read it for my book club, The Page Turners, as our November read.
The story takes place in the small town of Crosby, Maine. Some of the stories are about the people in the town and some are about Olive herself, a retired school teacher, but all the stories do relate to Olive in some way or another whether it be something she said or something she did to the person in the story being related.
At first I really didn’t like Olive. I found her rude and quite mean to her husband Henry who seemed kind of sweet to me. Yet as the novel wore on I came to feel more sympathy towards Olive and even liked her. I think Olive used this hard exterior as a way to protect herself. Underneath it all I think she was a very vulnerable person who had a lot to give; she just didn’t know how.
This book really is quite simple yet not simple at all. It’s about people – the good and the bad. Some of the stories are depressing but still when you finish reading them, you find yourself sitting there and thinking about the story and the people it’s about, especially Olive. It’s about a town and all the little and big things that may happen there. It’s about life and getting older and all that goes with that and realizing that all the small moments in life end up being huge ones when the people you shared them with are no longer there.
This book deals with a lot of issues including marriage, infidelity, children and aging. There is definitely a lot to talk about in terms of choosing this book for your book club. For myself, I did enjoy the book but I think that I probably didn’t get all that it has to offer out of it. It could be the time I read it or just the fact that it’s portrayed in the short story type format which I’m not fond of. I’m glad I read it and will say that it kept my attention throughout and even a week or so after I finished it, I’m still thinking about Olive and her life so I’d say that says a lot about her character and Elizabeth Strout’s writing.
For another much better review than mine of Olive Kitteridge, take a look at my fellow book club member Toni’s review coming from A Circle of Books.
My Thanks…to myself. I purchased this book and it came off my very own bookshelf.