Book Club: Olive Kitteridge By Elizabeth Strout

November 9, 2009

olive-kitteridge-194x300Gush, gush, gush, gush, gush! I LOVED this book. Go read it, now!

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I’ll tell you a little about it: Olive Kitteridge is a retired schoolteacher in her early seventies living in the small coastal town of Crosby, Maine. She is sometimes harsh and sarcastic, sometimes witty, sometimes feisty and possessive, sometimes strangely compassionate and intuitive. She is deeply flawed, and yet I loved her.

Each chapter in this novel is a story unto itself. In many of them, Olive is the main character, but in some she just passes through, or is briefly mentioned. We learn about her husband Henry and her grown son Christopher, as well as a host of other townspeople. There wasn’t a single story that I didn’t like. I must have marked a dozen passages that I want to go back and read over and over again because they are so perfectly described, so poignant, so true, so inspiring.

This book is supremely well-written. It’s easy to see how it won the Pulitzer Prize. I didn’t breeze through it, but took the entire month to read it. After each story I wanted to decompress, to take it all in. The main thing I liked about it was that it made me appreciate life. It made me not want to take anything for granted, which seems to be a theme with me lately. I kind of feel like I’m an elderly person stuck in a 27-year-old body, for all the premature nostalgia I experience on a daily basis.

Five out of five stars, no question. I’d like to read it again someday.



Next month’s book will be The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel and Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. As always, you’re welcome to read along!

Posted in: books & reading, book reviews, books & reading, personal, goals

Comments on Book Club: Olive Kitteridge By Elizabeth Strout

  1. 1

    From Just Fine Just Dandy:

    Sounds like a great book! I’ll have to put that on my list of books to read…

  2. 2

    From Scott:

    So I’m really late on this, but I just finished a couple days ago, and I didn’t want to read what you wrote until I had a chance to finish the book.

    I’m pretty much agree on all counts. I love how, in spite of all of Olive’s flaws, you couldn’t help but sympathize with her. I think the use of short stories, in which she is not the main focus, only served to enhance this, as well. It made her seem more real, and it felt like the townspeople were being more honest about her since she wasn’t there to affect their comments.

    It was quite beautiful and I’m glad you recommended it to me and let me borrow it.. Here’s my full database entry, but I don’t know if I said much else that would be surprising or insightful.

  3. 3

    From Olive Kitteridge:

    […] Kitteridge before reading it except that it was a Pulitzer Prize winner and that my sister-in-law enjoyed it when she read it for her book club.  I enjoy going into books blind this way, and try to do it […]

  4. 4

    From Best Book of 2009:

    […] for fiction, the winner goes to Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Since I just reviewed it recently, I don’t need to say much more. This book moved my soul. I laughed and I cried. It made me […]

  5. 5

    From nicole:

    Kat, I just read this book, and I wanted to go back and see what you said. Yes to everything!! I LOVED it. I, however, couldn’t put it down, so I think it would be really enjoyable to go back and re-read the stories slowly. So good!

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