Becky's Reviews > Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
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's review
Nov 26, 09

bookshelves: book-club
Read in November, 2009

So I've been struggling when people have asked me what this book is about. This might sound weird, but for me, it's about complexity. Complexity of emotions and complexity of relationships. In fact, it's even got a fairly complex -- or at least unusual -- narrative structure. It's a series of 13 short stories that take place, mostly, in the town of Crosby, Maine, and are connected by the presence of Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher who's just kind of sad, old and cantankerous. But she's also really hilarious and, dare I say it, complex. There are a ton of characters in the book (too many, maybe -- it was hard to keep them straight) but Olive is the best, and I tended to prefer the stories in which she figures most prominently, rather than the ones in which she's merely mentioned. The examination of relationships in the book is really great, especially marriages, which get the most attention. So many times when I was reading it, I felt like I was encountering true insight as to what relationships, and life, are really like. Not sugar-coated or contrived. The whole thing is gorgeous, and often heartbreaking. A great read.

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