July 11, 2009

Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout


I had read many good things about Olive Kitteridge around the blogging world (please forgive me if you have written one of the reviews that tempted me to read this one - I cannot remember all of them now!) so when I saw a copy available at my library I grabbed it.

Olive Kitteridge is a book made up of 13 short stories all interconnected in some way by the character of Olive herself or the community in which she lives in small-town Maine.

Not that I am in any ways an expert in the awarding of literature prizes but it does not surprise me that this book was the winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize - it is an amazing collection of stories - each one simple in construct but complex in emotion and character development.

As the book begins we hear from Olive's husband, Henry, about what his life is like living with such a strong-willed woman as Olive. I didn't exactly warm to Olive to begin with - she makes it tough for people to like her but it is clear that Henry loves and adores this woman.

The other stories all provide perspectives on Olive from her son, Christopher, her varied students from the local high school, other community members and Olive herself.

Each story in this collection is divine - you want each one to keep going and yet at the same time I think the author has timed and paced them perfectly.

If you enjoy brilliantly written books centred on character development and introspection than this is novel for you - just wonderful. I will be thinking about Olive for a long time to come.

10 comments:

Paperback Reader said...

I have this book on my summer reading list and I have heard only one bad review (from a friend and I can tell from your description that it's not his thing). It was lovely to read your glowing review and I look forward to reading all about Olive.

JoAnn said...

I'm so glad you loved Olive, too! She is certainly a character that will stay with me for a long, long time. It's one of my favorites of the year so far.

farmlanebooks said...

I loved this one too! It is so well constructed. I am pleased it won the Pulitzer prize.

mattviews said...

Olive has high expectations although sometimes she comes off too blunt and intimidating. She does have a good heart and it shows when she coaxed the anorexic girl to eating again. She is unforgettable.

Karen said...

Hi Paperback Reader - I think this is definitely a book that some people will love and others will go "what the??"! I hope you enjoy reading all about Olive as much as I did.

Hi JoAnn - I think this one will remain one of my favourites for this year too. Have you read any of the author's other books?

Hi Jackie - It is brilliantly done isn't it? She's obviously a very clever and thoughtful author - my favourite kind!

Hi Matt - She is a very human character isn't she? Not all sweetness and light at all - just like real people!

JoAnn said...

Hi Karen,
Several years ago I read her first novel, Amy and Isabelle, with my book group. I really liked it and plan to read Abide With Me at some point, too.

Karen said...

Hi JoAnn - that's great to hear. I will look out for these ones too.

Diane said...

I really loved the audio version of this book. Have a nice day.

Tamara said...

Hi Karen, This might be one I could do during my 'forced' break. Might look it up. Thanks for the review...

Samantha said...

I pounced on this one at the library too but had to give it back before I had finished it :-( I have since bought a copy and am looking forward to getting back to it!