Lesley's Reviews > Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
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Jul 25, 09

bookshelves: bleechhh, womanish, quiet-in-a-small-town, fiction

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 i don't care! this book was borrring and lackluster; a snoozefest.

there was such an initial appeal to these stories; set in coastal maine (how i looove it there) and an irrational, old miser of a lady to connect them all. i was sorely mistaken. this time, my soft spot for an old crank didn't beat, nor did it beat for anyone else around her. oh, and not only were these stories boring, but painfully depressing as well. how can anyone under the age of 50 read this w/o feeling dejected of their future?? if this book is representative of what truly happens with the ravages of age, maybe we're better off dying quickly and young. then again, i'd like to think that by a ripe, old, stinky age, i'd have lived a meaningful and sensational life, unlike olive kitteridge. so far, i feel i've already had. so there, take that elizabeth strout, just you try and break me...
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 56) (56 new)


message 1: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine I feel like this and the reader are the same type of book and from what I remember you aren't so into this particular type. might want to steer clear.


message 2: by Marguerita (new)

Marguerita McManus Thanks for writing the review - you saved me from making the effort :) I kept looking at the cover with the prize notice and thinking "what am I missing here?!?!?!"

I read ALL kinds of books and this one..... well, the ones I like I read again. I gave this one away as fast as I could.


message 3: by Celia (last edited Jun 18, 2010 10:48AM) (new)

Celia I'm an old lady and yes, I hate you.
Not really. but don't you identify with the depth of these characters' feelings in these subtle? and secret? situations - which are also so common.

Loved it!


message 4: by CV (new) - rated it 3 stars

CV Rick I wish I'd have read your review before picking up this book. Might've saved me some time. Alas, I finished it and while I thought there was some poetic writing, the story meant nothing to me.


message 5: by Nancy (last edited Jul 10, 2010 08:19AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Nancy Great review, Lesley! I really disliked the book. And I don't think it would have helped if I were old like Olive Kitteridge but yes, I think the target audience is senior citizens. I feel like it was a waste of my time, too. It irks me when a book gets so much praise and I read it and feel like a fool for falling for the hype. This book is AWFUL.


message 6: by Anne (new) - rated it 1 star

Anne Thank you for this review - after all the 4 and 5 star reviews, I thought I was the only one who totally hated this book. It's nice to feel a little validation!


Rachel I didn't "get" this book and I don't get why it is so highly reviewed. Glad to know I'm no the only 2 star reviewer on this one! Loved your comment, btw!


Jennifer I think I posted my review, but I wanted to love this but didn't. It is one of my mother's favorite books, and she is a senior citizen I guess, I don't think of her that way, but she is 73. To me it isn't so much about the age of the reader, as the philosophy of everyday life. I don't think that we are all unhappy and lead lives punctuated only by brief snippets of happiness and understanding, and at the end of the day are doomed to a lack of understanding or peace. Maybe its because I'm not my mothers age, and I am not lonely because my children have left: they are still little and living with me, and I have a significant other, my husband is alive and loving. I guess the point she was making was life is long and our happiness short lived, but we make do with the litle pieces we have, but I'm not sure I agree. I think life is more wondeful than that.


Jose I disagree with many of the opinions written here. I'm young and I have enjoyed a lot this book. I understand that the book may be seem a little dark(maby depressing) but no boring. As Celia said all the character feelings, and actions...


message 10: by Ann (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ann I enjoyed this Olive Kittridge. I don't see people the way she does but I enjoyed her words and her version of the world. Yes, she was a disagreeable old woman but it's the first book of stories that I have finished. I don't know nor doubt i'll ever be friends with someone like her (she doesn't seem too sensitive at all) but I enjoyed reading this book. I really have to say I wouldn't have thought twice about recommending this book until i read all the negative responses. oh well, that's what makes horse races!


Lesley wow, i had no idea this review was being commented on until i saw the last one in my email inbox; perhaps the others were directed to my spam folder?

anyway, i really do appreciate the comments.
celia and jose: i don't mind stories that are sometimes dark and depressing, and while i do agree the emotions of these characters are quite common, maybe that's just the reason i couldn't enjoy it; there was nothing revealing or titillating. being in the same winning category with the likes of the road and middlesex, my expectations were merely set too high.

also, before reading olive kitteridge, it's been sometime since i've read short stories and now i've come to the realization that it's not enough for me. if this book focused on one story, with more character development and depth instead of what felt like incomplete vignettes, maybe, just maybe i'd feel a bit differently.


message 12: by Vicki (new) - rated it 1 star

Vicki Fisher I saw the average rating and thought this is probably a good book--however, as I started reading I wasn't impressed at all but I kept reading it in the hopes it would get better (after all, it won a Pulitzer Prize) but it never did--I enjoy short stories but the author did not create charaters you could connect with--a big disappointment.


Janelle You stole the words right out of my mind! I'm not even finished and this is already my concenus on the book.


message 14: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise Janelle, I'm not finished with it either and I'm debating whether or not to just go to the library and pick up another book I have on hold and turn this one in. I can appreciate some of the mental portraiting but I'm still lost. Did those two drown with Olive watching or live happily ever after? The only character I like is Henry, but that's just because he seems like a real trooper.


Janelle Elise, I've just finished the book and I do think it's worth reading the whole thing. I'm glad I did. It's not a surprise or turn-of-events ending but it fits the books style. The last few "stories" are better than some others.
(I like Henry too!)


Jackamo I want to stand up and applaud you right now. This was undoubtedly the bleakest picture of life that I have ever been presented with. It this is all that there is to live for, why do we even bother? Good grief.


message 17: by Man (new) - rated it 1 star

Man O'neal YES! Me and you seem to be the only ones who find this book to be as dry as burnt toast on cardboard. I don't know how so many people were able to read the whole thing (Much like you, I'm proud of myself for doing so). I don't really mind the bleakness of the book...but God Damn it's boring...straight up bland.


Joell I loved the book.


message 19: by Nancy (new) - rated it 1 star

Nancy I strongly disliked Olive Kitteridge. I thought it was terrible and Olive was just an awful, unpleasant human being.


message 20: by Jan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jan This was a wonderful book! Olive is a marvellous character


Gloria Bernal She was certainly an unusual character, when she stole her daughter in laws shoe, etc., I wondered what this would have to do with the story and it was never mentioned again (?) She was hard to like at times. I found the whole thing odd.


message 22: by Nate (new) - rated it 1 star

Nate Refreshing to know that I also am not alone. Anytime I felt like ditching out on it I'd see the enormous list of accolades that this book had and knew that I had to be missing something and just needed to continue on. Had I read your review half way in I probably would have bailed. Consider yourself lucky it took you only a week, it took me much longer and much like a child trying to getting out of chores I noticed myself doing other tasks & errands to avoid another chapter.


message 23: by Man (new) - rated it 1 star

Man O'neal UUUUUUGGGHH! This book is just so...I can't even...(vomiting).


Marsha You should write a book- you are hysterical!


message 25: by Man (new) - rated it 1 star

Man O'neal To Marsha: Who...me?


message 26: by Amy (new) - rated it 1 star

Amy I couldn't have said it better myself! I just finished the book and I'm baffled by how much good press it got. It was slow, depressing, and boring.


Starasia man, i guess i'm an old lady b/c i could relate to what the marriages were like! very realistic. i loved it.


message 28: by Teri (new) - rated it 2 stars

Teri I'm glad I'm not the only one. I'm half way through and I came to check the reviews to see what the fuss was all about. Shall I keep reading? I'm not sure.


message 29: by Man (new) - rated it 1 star

Man O'neal No.


message 30: by Michael (new)

Michael I see dumb people.


message 31: by Judy (new)

Judy Mann 100%, 1000000% agreed. This was dull pretentious crap.In the first 4 chapters- she (Elizabeth Strout)has already named 4 turns in the plot where she describes everyone's reaction before she tells us what actually happened.Screw that. That's just pretentious crap. This low keyed kind of depressive writing where you're left thinking.."maybe I'll have broccoli.... nahh.. I had broccoli last night..maybe cauliflower." and then after 4 more pages you're thinking.."Isn't Sex in the City on now..?"
Really boring, depressing crap.J


Diane I thought this book was both humorous and touching. Your review reeks of ageism. I hope your future is as bright as you seem to think it will be but many people are formed by their grief and disappointment and yes, "the ravages of age." Perhaps as you get older you will give this book another try and, when you review, I hope you won't lump people into groups such as "old ladies." My book group has many younger people in it and they found enjoyment in the well written stories. All best.


message 33: by Ann (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ann I am so glad you enjoyed it. I did also and said so over a year ago.


message 34: by Tess (new)

Tess I have read the first four chapters of this book and I am struggling to finish it. After reading these reviews I may just give it up and donate it. I have a feeling it will be a waste of my time as well as I just can't sink my teeth into the characters. Pulitzer prize...you have to wonder who makes those decisions.


message 35: by Judy (new)

Judy Mann Tess wrote: "I have read the first four chapters of this book and I am struggling to finish it. After reading these reviews I may just give it up and donate it. I have a feeling it will be a waste of my time ..."
Tess I have been wondering the exact same thing-about Pulitzers.Something seems very fishy to me. And after the Pulitzer- the critics rave which makes me wonder all over again.If this wasn't high brow book publishing I'd think there was some payola going on somewhere..J


message 36: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise There were parts of this book I really liked, but it WAS hard to finish.


Jaksen Terribly hard to finish and I am not one who 'must finish' every book I start. I kept waiting for it to get better. It didn't.


Elisa I totally agree with you on everything! It took me more than forty minutes for each "story"!


Ellen Chamberlin I loved it, I hope I am as strong as olive when I am old. She was a good and compassionate person (although she had issues). Sorry u didn't like it. : (


Jaksen I am almost as old as Olive and I still disliked the book. Unfortunately, I know people like her and though I can avoid some of them, those who are related to me I cannot. I didn't see her as particularly compassionate either. The thing with the sweaters? I know someone who did a similar thing to a relative's clothing. Anyhow, to each their own, but imo it was a waste of time where I could have been reading something else.


message 41: by Judy (new)

Judy Mann Jaksen wrote: "I am almost as old as Olive and I still disliked the book. Unfortunately, I know people like her and though I can avoid some of them, those who are related to me I cannot. I didn't see her as parti..."

Well done. Jaksen. I remember disliking this book enormously and because of that I got accused of being AGEIST whatever the hell that is. Again - well done.JM


message 42: by Lynn (new)

Lynn I am 52, and have struggled through the first half of this book, feeling just as you do! I really can't relate to any of the characters or their situations. Tonight, I thought I would check Goodreads reviews to see if I was the only one, and I want to thank you for your thoughts! I will now put this book away and move on to something that won't inspire me to think about anything, but the words on these pages!


Rachael I could not disagree with you more. To each their own I suppose.


Rachael and I'm far from a senior citizen....


message 45: by Jill (new) - rated it 1 star

Jill Crosby I'm over 50, and I didn't like Olive, or her kid, or her neighbors, or her husband or, really ANYONE connected with Crosby, Maine. I mean, I understood the parallels and symbolism, and the lesson-illustrating clearly portrayed in each episode, but DANG! I was depressed, anxious, and actually downright crabby while reading this Pulitzer winner. If the author's intent was to turn me into Olive Kitteridge, then mission accomplished. I drove this book immediately to Goodwill upon finishing it, effectively jettisoning its malicious presence from my home. Yuck.


Machel *Feeling the same way...trying to finish this.


Machel actually ended up loving this book.


message 49: by Sue (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sue I am reading it now and it has literally put me to sleep. Only reason I will finish is because I took it for my beach read.


message 50: by Roz (new) - rated it 2 stars

Roz Michael wrote: "I see dumb people." Welcome to Maine, Michael. I see dumb people daily, and they are boring, bland and or ugly. I hate it here as do other transplanted folks I know. I don't need to read this book, I am living it and wonder why I ever moved here. I have yet, in my 30 yrs. here to meet anyone to discuss a book with as their favorite authors are Stephen King and Harlequin romances, providing they read at all.


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