Stacy's Reviews > Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
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's review
Apr 12, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: pulitzer-prize-winner, new-england
Read from February 20 to 26, 2013

Happy individuals, happy families, happy couples. What do these 3 things have in common? They do not make for an interesting short story! I learned this truth in college English reading assignments and as for myself, I enjoy a good short story, the way it will delve into the inner life, the private joys and unspeakable sorrows of a human soul.

Perhaps because of this, I enjoyed this book, told as a collection of 13 short stories centering around various locals in the small town of Crosby, Maine, particularly as they touch upon the protagonist. Olive Kitteridge, retired schoolteacher, is prickly and full of venom, an unlikely and at times perhaps unlikeable main character, but through her we are reminded that life and people are never as simple as we believe them to be on the surface.

I'll admit that after the first chapter, I loathed Olive and wasn't sure if I could stomach the whole book. Yet by the end of the second chapter, I was thinking she wasn't such a bad dame. Interestingly, the first chapter in which she appears so appalling was told from the perspective of Olive's husband Henry, prompting the reader to wonder if we might ever show our worst side to those who should matter the most to us, our spouse.

By the time I finished reading, I felt convinced that love is the most important thing in life, and that we must seize it wholeheartedly when we have the chance. Love must also be shown to those around us through kind words and deeds, because ultimately it doesn't matter what we feel for them if it never finds expression, and loneliness will be our reward unless we put forth this effort in our relationships.

I'm kind of wishing I had chosen this as a book club selection as there is plenty of meat to chew on and discuss.
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message 1: by Judy (new) - added it

Judy Nice review, Stacy. I hope to listen to the audiobook this year. Thanks to your review, I will know not to be tempted to give up too quickly.

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