Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Beautiful book. I don't always like books that win big awards, they tend to be too heavy or artsy and just go right over my head, but this winner of the 2009 Pulitzer is a real gem. Heartwarming, familiar, deep - it's not exactly a page turner and yet I couldn't put it down.

Olive Kitteridge is a 'novel in stories', a collection of 13 stories of a community in Maine. Each is about a different person in the town but Olive Kitteridge appears in all. Through the stories where she's the central character we come to see (and sometimes understand) how she views the world and how she's coping with getting older and the associated changes to her life. Through the other storied, the comments of the townspeople, we have a glimpse of how she looks to others, what others think of her. Often, I'd read about Olive in another person's story and I'd think she was horrible. Then when I read a chapter specifically about her, I suddenly understood and forgave her. If only we had such insight into the souls of those around us!

It made me think about the adjustments that we all need to make as we get older and then old. It made me think of my Grandma for example in a different light. It also made me think of my own future, about the kind of old person I would like to be.

Elizabeth Strout is seriously going onto my list of favorite authors ever. Her writing here was amazing. Actually alive. Beautifully chosen words, yet it didn't read like she was trying too hard. It all described life and people's inner life wonderfully. I really felt like I knew the characters, like I understood the very basis of them. It was a nice feeling.

Have you read anything else by this author?

If you haven't read this, go do so right now, you won't regret it!

Challenges: 2010 Countdown Challenge

13 comments:

Nymeth said...

I really need to read this! It sounds like such a beautiful book :)

joanna said...

I think you'd love the language and the character depth Nymeth, looking forward to your thoughts on it!

Kristi said...

It's gone on my TBR list, too. It sounds terrific. Thanks for the review.

raidergirl3 said...

I haven't read any other books by her, but I'd like to.
I really liked this book too, for all the reasons you listed. I also really liked this line in your review - If only we had such insight into the souls of those around us!
Great review!

joanna said...

Kristi - I hope you like it!

Raidergirl - Thanks! :-) I guess we'll both have to check out some of her other books...

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

I have this book, but haven't gotten around to reading yet. Your review has given me something to really look forward to!

joanna said...

Michele - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Rolodexter said...

I'm sorry. I know this is supposed to be a great collection of short stories, as it's recognized well, but the shorts are boring. I think I might have just picked this one up at the wrong time. I'm going through this thing, where I don't really like fiction in the third person. I'm finding the third person narrative to be irritating, corny, trite. The leaves did this, and the sun did this to the building. It's trite. It's exhausted. We all don't have very much time these days, and save for the awful reason to just stop and smell the shitty roses, I really am finding that fiction has to say something; come out with it already. I'm impatient. I'll try it again in a month.

Iliana said...

This is one I've been meaning to read forever! Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

joanna said...

Rolodexter - try it again, maybe you'll be in the mood for it some other time!

Iliana - I think you'd really appreciate it, can't wait to read your thoughts!

anothercookiecrumbles said...

One of my friends has been trying to get me to read this forever. Well, maybe not forever, but about a year and a bit! Thanks for the review - I keep meaning to read it, and hopefully, i will someday "soon"...

Charley said...

I've read only a few stories from this, but I'd like to read the whole thing. My favorite line so far is in The Piano Player (I think) when Olive says, "Too damn bad. I like the cold." I'm looking for a reason to say that to someone in my everyday life.

joanna said...

anothercookie - it really is worth making time for.

Charley - there are so many great one-liners, the language Strout uses really is great!