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Olive Kitteridge

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  98,758 Ratings  ·  13,455 Reviews
At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to ...more
Paperback, 270 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Random House Trade Paperbacks
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Tracey Ayres I saw the mini-series first and found it done so excellently that I could think of none other than Frances McDormand as I subsequently read the book.…moreI saw the mini-series first and found it done so excellently that I could think of none other than Frances McDormand as I subsequently read the book. She was perfect and the mini-series was exquisite.

The book haunted me with its stellar writing (and yes, I too, unfortunately, recognized parts of myself in the title character). I cannot wait to read something else from this author. (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Lesley
Jul 25, 2009 Lesley rated it did not like it
first and foremost, i would like to congratulate myself for finishing this. for what i thought would take no more than two days to get through; it took about a week. A WEEK! i read the same paragraphs over and over, thinking that perhaps i was missing something. something elegant, ruminating, and unforgettable that the pulitzer board saw, which clearly i couldn't. but no, i wasn't missing anything (except for maybe hours of my life). ooh, i feel like old ladies will see this and hate me ... but ...more
Nancy
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

This is a collection of stories about a group of ordinary people living in a small town in Maine, their joys, sorrows, tragedies and grief, all centered around the main character, Olive Kitteridge. Normally, this is the kind of fiction I stay away from. I was afraid it would be an overwrought melodrama about provincial people living in a boring town. Yet, I was so absorbed by the lives of these people and had a difficult time putting the book down.

The characters were ver
...more
Scott Axsom
May 26, 2013 Scott Axsom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and I’ve struggled since to find the reasons why Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge struck me so deeply. So let me start by just saying; this book was awesome. The reasons why, however, required from me considerable introspection. The subtlety of its beauty is indeed the mark of a great novel.

I came to this book reluctantly and I’m not sure why - anything with a Pulitzer usually draws me like a bear to honey - but perhaps it was due to the structure. I
...more
jo
Mar 24, 2009 jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: linda, wilhelmina
Recommended to jo by: jean
don't know if it was me being meditative or moody or under the sobering influence of the recession, but i found this absolutely gorgeous book SO DAMN SAD. there are, let's see, at least two suicides but it might be three, three deaths but it might be more (one the death of a very young person), intolerably sad aging folks, a myriad broken relationships, and a ton of god-awful loneliness. how can a town as sweet and stably populated as crosby, maine, foster so much loneliness? aren't small towns ...more
Will Byrnes
Nov 05, 2014 Will Byrnes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Olive Kitteridge is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning collection of stories that constitute a novel. They are not as closely woven together as the multi-generational tales in works by Louise Erdrich, another writer who likes to collect small parts into a larger whole, but Strout has put together a compelling portrait of a small town. I was reminded of Spoon River, as we learn some of the secrets each of the main characters protects. Lake Wobegon came to mind, as well. It most resembles Winesburg, Ohio, S ...more
Tatiana
I've listened to 4 stories out of 13 and I think I've had enough. This book should come with a Depressed Senior Citizen Characters warning. I am sure my impression of this book is colored by the awful narrator/actor who read every character, regardless of the age and gender, as a 80-year old screeching and bleating elderly person (no offense to elderly), but the fact is the majority (if not all) of characters are old and/or miserable.

1/4th of the book is over, and I have encountered: an elderly
...more
Dolors
Apr 29, 2015 Dolors rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who stay afloat, regardless of life
Shelves: read-in-2014
“She didn’t like to be alone. Even more, she didn’t like being with people.”

Olive Kitterigde is much more than a retired teacher, intransigent mother, exasperating wife or whimsical neighbor. She is the common thread that interweaves the prosaic lives, everyday tragedies and asphyxiating Zeitgeist of the townspeople of Crosby, a small town located in Maine, a place where the lives of others collide with the adjacent frontiers of oneself.
Olive Kitteridge is the result of a finely threaded gossam
...more
Teresa
Nov 11, 2014 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 and 1/2 stars

We all have known an Olive -- or at least, we think we know her. Strout shows us the parts we don't know, what's behind the prickliness and the 'attitude.' Through fiction, we now have a better understanding of such a person.

It's a rare writer who can embody a character so well. And the minor characters too -- they are all living, breathing people. More than one of these 'minor' characters are so well-drawn and intriguing that I wouldn't have minded knowing more about them.

Not all
...more
Joe Valdez
Jun 05, 2016 Joe Valdez rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-general
The best novel I've read since joining Goodreads is East of Eden by John Steinbeck. The second best is Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Published in 2008 and winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, this collection of thirteen stories all feature or focus on a retired seventh grade math teacher in the fictional seaside town of Crosby, Maine as she enters the winter of her life, still in possession of the vinegar her former students or fellow townsfolk have tasted for years. Like Stein ...more
·Karen·
WOW!
How appropriate that Olive should be large: she is larger than life, human but more so. She's angrier, more unrepentant, and far less tolerant, of herself as much as of others, but at the same time she's also more feeling, more compassionate, more sensitive than the average member of the human race. She's raw, as if an insulating layer had been stripped away, leaving her to feel and see more than most. The magical thing is that you feel and see too, you develop a kind of preternatural sensit
...more
Sparrow
If I could use one word to describe this book, it would probably be “boring.” “Awkward” is a close runner-up. I think Elizabeth Strout must be the type of person who is less of the entertainment school of writing and more of the vitamins school of writing. But, I am left wondering what nutritional value I got out of this. Mostly, it just seemed like a bunch of people sitting around being petty, judging other people’s Issues, and thinking about cheating on each other. Like, whoa, deep.

The struct
...more
Cheryl
May 30, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it
Whenever I read a Pulitzer-prize-winning book (or nominee), I'm tempted to look for the chutzpah. For there is no way a book wins this honorable prize without doing something that has not been done before, or without taking something that has been done before and doing it better. This chutzpah is usually in the form, the style, or the story arc.

With this novel, it is the way in which short stories are interwoven using one subject: the idiosyncratic, Olive Kitteridge. Never mind that Olive is no
...more
Fabian
Sep 22, 2016 Fabian rated it it was amazing
It is incredibly difficult to find substance in the ordinary. This novel in episodes, all revolving around the enigmatic Olive, do something extraordinary: they are so rich with description, so tangible (I believe I breathed in the saltiness of the Maine coast, practically) that they ...transcend. There is actually nothing innovatory in Elizabeth Strout's fantastic short story collection but she knows perfectly well how to orchestrate a fabulous and gut-wrenching short story: every single one of ...more
Camie
Jan 10, 2016 Camie rated it it was amazing
This Pulitzer Prize winning book has mostly good but mixed reviews, and I can understand that It wouldn't appeal to everyone. Since next month I will be one more year ( alarmingly !!!) closer to 60 and have been married 34 years, I'm guessing I'm the perfect demographic for this book. Though titled Olive Kitterigde after the matronly, retired math teacher with a rather brusque side , quite a few of the 13 interrelated stories are about other folks who share the same hometown of Crosby, Maine ...more
Tom
Sep 01, 2014 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, set in coastal Maine. It is really a creative novel, composed of 13 short stories that share the common protagonist, Olive Kitteridge.
Olivve is all of these: retired middle school teacher, sourpuss of a human, opinionated nasty, wounded human, wounding human, know-it-all, and in the end a genuine person.
The dialogue is genuine, terse, and minimized. There are some stunning portrayals here. The first and the last chapters are the best. I have not been moved by a book in quite
...more
M
Apr 23, 2008 M rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eh.
Strout is such a good writer that when I heard she had a new one out I went to buy it without even knowing the title, let alone the plot. And while she is still a wonderful writer, she seems to have reduced herself (prematurely, I would hope) to the pre retirment plan of Maeve Binchy; the incredibly unpleasant world of the multiple narrative novel.
Her characters are sketched very well and her use of language pulls you in, but I really hate these snippets that aren't short stories, aren't nove
...more
Julie
You know, it really was a coincidence that I picked this up at the library the day after the HBO miniseries won something at the Emmy awards. I'm late to the Olive Kitteridge party because I never intended to go in the first place. But there I was, in-between reads, waiting for all the books I'd requested to arrive at the library (which they nearly all did in a single day, three days later) and here was Olive Kitteridge, sitting on a rotating rack of paperbacks that you can borrow on the honor s ...more
Barbara
May 05, 2010 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: DEBBY,KELLY,GAIL
Elizabeth Strout has penned a beautiful book, which has left me deeply pensive and tearful. I am not generally attracted to the short story, but this is not truly of that genre. It is a series of vignettes, many of which have Olive Kitteridge as the main character. Each story is about the inhabitants of Crosby, Maine, a small seaside village, all with complicated tales of their own. Olive is ever present, even fleetingly,to tie the people to her in some manner.

When I first started reading, my th
...more
BrokenTune
Aug 21, 2016 BrokenTune rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Olive Kitteridge is an extraordinary book.
I had to read the first story quite a few times to get into the characters and the get what Strout wanted to do here. The writing is gorgeous. It must have required considerable effort and discipline to compile the selection of related and yet unrelated stories - all of which involve either Olive Kitteridge or people in her community in a small town in Maine - and yet keep the tone of the stories so even, so understated.

There were two aspects of Olive K
...more
Lisa
Dec 08, 2009 Lisa rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that literally changed the way I think and feel and respond to others. Elizabeth Strout brings much wisdom and insight to common themes like family dynamics, love, marriage, aging, death, grief, loneliness and betrayal without ever coming off as sentimental or seeming to arrive at an obvious conclusion. The messages of Olive Kitteridge are honest and real: that we need to love and be loved, that we need compassion and understanding both for and from the people in our ...more
Justin
Oct 21, 2015 Justin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is told in a series of short stories that sometimes feature Olive, but most of the time she appears briefly in a conversation or in the background somewhere. I love the story because it made me think about my relationship with my family and my friends, my acquaintances, people I see every day that I really don't know at all. It made me think about our connectedness and how important those relationships are, and how sometimes people have this perception about us or we have a perception ...more
Rilla
Apr 30, 2008 Rilla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Strout has come back strongly after the disappointing Abide with Me to fashion a novel of small town life from interlinked short stories. Put yourself in coastal Maine--smell the pine needles and the salty air. The sense of place and strong characters reminded me of the best of Lee Smith's portraits of life in Appalachia. Olive Kitteridge figures in major and minor ways in most if not all of the stories, but she is far from the only "main" character. A former 7th grade math teacher (a ...more
Carol
Apr 20, 2015 Carol rated it liked it
Shelves: donate
It was hard for me to rate this Pulitzer Prize winning novel. The way these thirteen stories relating to Olive were written were so "different". Some of them I loved, especially those relating to Olive's husband Henry. (he deserved better from her!) On the other hand, some of the stories barely even mentioned Olive and were not that enjoyable for me to the point of being confusing with characters I did not care about. Oh well...ended well for Olive though!

UPDATE: 11-04-14

I am so confused.....jus

...more
Lucy
Jun 17, 2009 Lucy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have never liked the idiom, "You can't have your cake and eat it too," because it doesn't make sense. What are you talking about? I have cake and eat it all the time. Too frequently, in fact. But that isn't my point.

I do understand its intended meaning, however. I've seen it written instead, "You can't eat your cake and have it too," which really clears things up (the two desires are mutually exclusive. Choice and sacrifice are obligatory), but, I doubt the saying will ever change. And if I sa
...more
Noeleen
Apr 30, 2013 Noeleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Olive Kitteridge, in essence, is a collection of thirteen short stories (although substantial in length) revolving around the lives, experiences and thoughts of the inhabitants of a small town in Maine. Olive herself is central to all tales within, whether directly or indirectly and whether you decide to like or dislike her character....she is indeed a formidable and essential ingredient to the stories.

I adored this book from the very first page. It is so well written, structured and immensely t
...more
Chris
When I saw this as the #3 book of 2008 in "Entertainment Weekly," the review intrigued me. So much so, I went to the library yesterday afternoon, took it out, and finished it this morning!

There are 13 stories interwoven together in this small town in Maine, with the one character, Olive Kitteridge, playing a part (sometimes small) in each one of the stories. Olive is a somewhat larger than life character, physically and emotionally, sometimes is crass and rude to people, but she definitely lives
...more
Roxanne
Jul 02, 2009 Roxanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women
I finished this book 10 days ago and had to think about it. In short, I would say that this book gives us a new female heroine. Not meant to be liked, not meant to be revered, not meant to fit in, but totally and absolutely real. This is not a fantasy. Thus, many may not like the book. It does not tie up into a neat bundle. And for the first time I see and appreciate the value in this style of literature and film. It is more representative of reality to me. This book changed me as a reader and a ...more
Dem
Jan 04, 2014 Dem rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars

Having never read any of Elizabeth Stout Novels I was delighted to get the chance to read Olive Kitteridge.

Olive Kitteridge is a combination of 13 stories all set in rural Maine. I was a little concerned that each chapter read as a different story with Olive being the connection between the stories. I found for me my concerns proved right as all the stories read like short stories and I am just not a fan of short stories. I found once again I am just getting into the story and connect
...more
Elaine
Dec 20, 2007 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007, december
Olive Kitteridge is subtitled a "novel in stories". Reading this book is like looking through a family photo album. Each short story is a snapshot portraying life in small town Maine. Strout expertly constructs each snapshot for us with her beautiful prose, adding layer upon layer, and often adding a slight twist at the end of the story which completely changes the picture we thought we were seeing into something we weren’t quite expecting at all.
Olive is of course our title character but she is
...more
Bam
When I joined a readers' roundtable group at the library five years ago, I soon learned that they had all read Olive Kitteridge before I became a member because they often referred to it as a book that some loved and some hated. Of course I added it to my should-read list but never seemed to get around to it. Now that this same group has picked Elizabeth Strout's latest book, The Burgess Boys, to read for this month's selection, it was definitely time to catch up with my reading because they are ...more
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ELIZABETH STROUT is the author of several novels, including: Abide with Me, a national bestseller and BookSense pick, and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. In 2009 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her book Olive Kitteri ...more
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“You couldn't make yourself stop feeling a certain way, no matter what the other person did. You had to just wait. Eventually the feeling went away because others came along. Or sometimes it didn't go away but got squeezed into something tiny, and hung like a piece of tinsel in the back of your mind.” 110 likes
“What young people didn't know, she thought, lying down beside this man, his hand on her shoulder, her arm; oh, what young people did not know. They did not know that lumpy, aged, and wrinkled bodies were as needy as their own young, firm ones, that love was not to be tossed away carelessly . . . No, if love was available, one chose it, or didn't chose it. And if her platter had been full with the goodness of Henry and she had found it burdensome, had flicked it off crumbs at a time, it was because she had not know what one should know: that day after day was unconsciously squandered. . . . But here they were, and Olive pictured two slices of Swiss cheese pressed together, such holes they brought to this union--what pieces life took out of you.” 74 likes
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