Mikki's Reviews > Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
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Oct 03, 11

bookshelves: baaaaa
Read from September 29 to October 02, 2011, read count: Buddy Read With Sharyl

In Winter Concert, one of the thirteen linking short stories forming the novel Olive Kitteridge, Jane Houlton peers through her car window at the many passing houses strewn with holiday lights and muses to her husband, "All these lives. All the stories we never know."

And in most novels, this is the case as we, the reader, are usually only privy to the thoughts and actions of the main characters while those in supporting roles do just that…support. We never really know them or even consider their lives outside that of the protagonist's. However, here we practically have the opposite -- it's the residents of a small coastal town and the snapshots into their everyday lives which make up the bulk of the story, with Olive Kitteridge (a retired schoolteacher) being the common thread. Sometimes having a major presence and many times not, but always overlapping to some degree.

Simple tales and a great example of how we as individuals really do make up the whole.
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Comments (showing 1-11)




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Sharyl Great review! Olive definitely grew on me, despite her occasional mean streak:)


Mikki Thanks Sharyl! Yeah, she really grew on me too and toward the end I found myself snidely laughing with her. Some beautiful descriptive and original writing.


Tajma Mikki, what a great review. Makes me want to read the novel again but we both know I have no idea where it is! LOL


Mikki Thanks, Taj. The best thing about the book for me was how credible the characters were -- unique characteristics yet just like a neighbor that could live next door (even that crazy parrot).


Tajma Absolutely. I loved the ending also. Even books that I really enjoy sometimes disappoint me at the ending. Not this one.


message 6: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne I'm sold.


Mikki Thank you, Anne. I put off reading this book for the longest time (not sure why) and then my friend, Sharyl, and I decided to read it together. So glad that we did.


message 4: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne So many of my friends seem to have liked it. I was turned off by the sort of short-story thing. But, I think I'm over that now, thanks to you. D)


Jeanette I like your perspective on this, Mikki. When I read it I was sort of wishing it was a novel instead, but the way you've said it I can see the appeal in playing up the supporting roles.


Mikki Thanks, Jeanette, I can understand people's uncertainty about this because it's like a hybrid -- not quite novel and not quite full short stories. I, too, was hesitant and kept putting the reading of off for years.


Leisa The one chapter I didn't understand was the one about the girl who ordered her boyfriend a shirt, talked too much to get a job and liked to burn things, preferably in her sink. How did this relate to Olive's family?


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