Nancy's Reviews > Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
May 22, 15

bookshelves: fiction, made-me-cry, library-books, favorites, shelf-inflicted, i-saw-the-film, award-winners
Read from August 11 to 15, 2009, read count: 1

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 very well developed, the town vividly described, and the emotions raw. Olive Kitteridge left me feeling very unsettled. I admire her quiet strength, her forthrightness, her realistic views of life, and the fact that she controls her emotions. I hate her brusqueness, her self-centeredness, and her difficulty with accepting changes. She was a complex character, definitely not your stereotypical cranky old lady. Each story is presented from different viewpoints and shows Olive’s many sides as she interacts with family, neighbors and friends, as she experiences age, loneliness, grief and love. The characters are realistically drawn with such an emotional depth that I found I could easily identify with them and even see similarities to people I know. Olive Kitteridge makes me hate those qualities in myself that are like hers and makes me look at others with more patience and a less judgmental eye.
155 likes · Likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Olive Kitteridge.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

08/15/2009 page 30
show 3 hidden updates…

Comments (showing 1-43 of 43) (43 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Shayne (new)

Shayne Fab review, Nancy!

message 2: by Daisiemae (new)

Daisiemae Great review, Nancy:)

Nancy Thanks! :) It wasn't a happy story, but it left me thinking a lot about the human condition.

message 4: by Evan (new)

Evan Good review, but still, geez, I dunno...

Nancy This review compares Olive Kitteridge to Winesburg, Ohio and Spoon River Anthology which I remember you enjoyed.

message 6: by Evan (new)

Evan Eh, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And still I haven't read Sinclair Lewis' "Main Street."

message 7: by Cameron (new)

Cameron I remember when hoopla started to build about this novel while I was still working at Borders - it got all the attention from people from whom I normally steer clear of recommendations until a trusted reader friend said it was incredible. Now with your review I suppose 'tis another to add to the get-to-eventually pile.

Nancy This one really surprised me. Hope you enjoy it!

message 9: by Fiona (new) - added it

Fiona Thanks for this review, Nancy. I love your honesty...

message 10: by Mike (new) - added it

Mike Puma This one keeps popping up on my radar, plus I have a thing for 'doing' the Pulitzers. Sooner or later, I'm gonna get to it. Thanks for the review.

Billie Jo Loved it and am looking for another like it or may just need to read it again!

Nancy Hi Billie, see message 5 above. Winesburg, Ohio and Spoon River Anthology may share some similarities though I haven't read either title yet.

message 13: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Short but concise. Well done, Nancy!!!

message 14: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Nailed it, Nancy! By all means give Winesburg and Spoon River a shot. You will find similarities. Both are marvelous reads.

message 15: by Diane (new)

Diane Barnes Great job with this one. I loved Olive's character and really enjoyed seeing her from different viewpoints. This review exactly captures my feelings about the book. Winesburg and Spoon River are favorites of mine as well.

Nancy Thanks for the comments! I will check out Winesburg and Spoon River soon.

Columbus Excellent review, Nancy! Thanks for sharing...I just heard Frances McDormand (w/Bill Murray) will be starring in an HBO miniseries on the book soon.

Nancy Thanks! I hope the miniseries will do justice to the story.

message 19: by Robert (new)

Robert Good review. And congratulations. My like just pushed you into triple digits. :-)

Nancy Thanks! I haven't read any of Rowling's books yet.

message 21: by Roz (new) - rated it 2 stars

Roz It is about provincial people living in a boring Maine town, I don't know how this won a Pulitzer prize, really!

message 22: by Debbie "DJ" (new) - added it

Debbie "DJ" Wilson Thanks Nancy. I've had this book for a long time now and had similar feelings to yours about reading it. Now I can dive in with no worries :)

message 23: by Roz (new) - rated it 2 stars

Roz What I found most annoying about this book is the lack of rhythm (sp). It was like being awakened from a good dream and then abruptly put into another one. To be fair I guess I should give it another chance. My short review was colored by the fact that I live in Maine and find these folks extremely shallow on the whole. Living here makes one cantankerous. They are nosy but give nothing back, take the gossip and run.

Nancy Debbie "DJ" wrote: "Thanks Nancy. I've had this book for a long time now and had similar feelings to yours about reading it. Now I can dive in with no worries :)"

A guy I used to work with recommended this book and brought it in for me to read. He told me his wife loved it, and if I liked it, he'd give it a try too. There was no way I could refuse. :)

message 25: by Nancy (last edited Jan 21, 2015 11:45AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nancy Roz wrote: "What I found most annoying about this book is the lack of rhythm (sp). It was like being awakened from a good dream and then abruptly put into another one. To be fair I guess I should give it ano..."

As a whole, I find New Englanders to be a bit standoffish at first, but once you get to know them they are friendly and generous. I think I'll stay.

Melissa Now that I've read this, I must say that I'm dyyying to see the HBO version. I couldn't help but picture Frances McDormand the whole time I was reading it, and I think she's absolutely perfect for it.

message 27: by Debbie "DJ" (new) - added it

Debbie "DJ" Wilson Wow, watched the HBO special of this. Absolutely fantastic...Frances McDormand brought me to tears. That doesn't happen very often!

Nancy So glad you liked it, Debbie. It's a very busy time of year for me, but I'm going to watch this very soon. I still remember Frances in Fargo.

message 29: by Debbie "DJ" (new) - added it

Debbie "DJ" Wilson That's great Nancy. I think you'd really like it. Silly me, didn't even recognize her from Fargo till I googled her and found out!

Nancy I'm so loving the HBO special!

message 31: by Debbie "DJ" (new) - added it

Debbie "DJ" Wilson So excited you're loving it! I watched The Golden Globe Awards last week, where she was nominated for best performance in a miniseries. Kinda sad as she lost to Maggie Gyllenhaal in "An Honorable Woman." Have seen both, and no question McDormand was the better actor. It was a kick to watch her expressions throughout the night...she was not happy! One headline said "And the award for most miserable actress goes to...Frances McDormand!"

Nancy I haven't seen "The Honorable Woman", but I'm generally not that crazy about spy thrillers. McDormand is perfect for Olive Kitteridge. Just like Olive in the book, certain aspects of McDormand's character remind me of other people I know. I'm tempted to read the book again.

message 33: by Debbie "DJ" (new) - added it

Debbie "DJ" Wilson I've GOT to read the book! Haven't read yet, but own it.

Nancy The book is very different. It's told in different voices and Olive Kittredge is not always the main focus, as she is in the movie. But, just like the book, it made me cry and see similarities in myself and in others I know.

message 35: by Debbie "DJ" (new) - added it

Debbie "DJ" Wilson Think I'm going to like that. Something similar, but different than the movie. Seeing the movie, I wasn't really focused on the similarities in myself and others, books however, really have a way of doing just that. Even more intrigued about the book now.

Hey, did the guy you worked with actually read it?

Nancy Debbie "DJ" wrote: "Hey, did the guy you worked with actually read it?..."

Yes, he did! Though it took a little effort on my part to encourage him to get out of his comfort zone. He's more of a science fiction reader.

He liked the book and gave it 4 stars, but I suspect he will have to be pushed to read another one like it.

message 37: by Debbie "DJ" (new) - added it

Debbie "DJ" Wilson too funny, four stars, but still has to be pushed to read another!

Larry Bassett What a nice skillful summary review you wrote here!

Nancy Thanks, Larry! I'm looking forward to your thoughts on the book when you get to it. Have you seen the film?

message 40: by Quinn (new)

Quinn why in the world would you have a spider in your picture? *shudders*

Nancy "keep your friends close and your enemies closer"

I'm terrified of spiders, so keeping this one close by means I don't have to worry about any surprises.

Why don't you have a picture?

Seattle Al For another fine example of a set of short stories forming a novel, check out Jennifer Egan's "A Visit from the Goon Squad."

Nancy Thanks! It's on my shelf. I'll definitely check it out soon.

back to top