Olive Kitteridge

Elizabeth Strout 2008  Simon & Schuster

A 5 star read and safe to say I am officially now an Elizabeth Strout fan, so I am struggling to grasp that this superb book was first published in 2008 and I only discovered this author in May 17!  I had no idea….needless to say I am now working through her back catalogue, future reviews will appear hear…

Olive Kitteridge is similar to Anything is Possible insofar as it details the lives of townsfolk living locally to the central character – in this case Olive Kitteridge.  I liked Olive and, ‘was on her side’, a retired Maths teacher known by everybody, liked by few.  Cantankerous, stubborn, cold and blunt are words that come to mind, married to her opposite in Henry warm, kind, agreeable and popular.  This book offers an insight into Olive’s life over the years, generally not a cheerful tale, with some heartbreak and drama along the way, but told in a steadfast manner suited to Olive’s character.  Stories of others in the town overlap and provide a view of Olive, from her own and others perspectives.  I like this aspect of Strout’s writing, it makes the reader feel included, part of the story an occupant of the town.  As such we don’t know everything about anyone, just what we hear, what people are saying, snippets picked up along the way, adding to the story.

Stories about life and death, about love and loss and families, the joy and the hurt they bring.  All told in a matter of fact manner that personally I love.

I was interested to see in this book that several of the chapters had been published elsewhere as short stories, in The New Yorker and The Oprah Magazine for example.  Reminiscent for me of some of Salinger’s short stories separate but linked, read together or not and told, dare I say it, in a similar, slightly edgy acerbic fashion.

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