Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Olive Kitteridge (Olive Kitteridge, #1)” as Want to Read:
Olive Kitteridge (Olive Kitteridge, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Olive Kitteridge

(Olive Kitteridge #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  164,466 ratings  ·  18,912 reviews
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition – its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the worl
...more
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published March 25th 2008 by Random House
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Olive Kitteridge, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Joan I watched the mini series and thought it was excellent. You fall in love with her husband because he is so kind. I didn't find it to be a depressing m…moreI watched the mini series and thought it was excellent. You fall in love with her husband because he is so kind. I didn't find it to be a depressing movie at all but rather, enlightening/eye opening and I was left with a feeling of being appreiciative. There's a lesson to be learned here in how lost people are in their own misery and don't recognize or realize there is help and medication for depression. Francis McDormand plays an extremely bitter and unhappy woman caused by her depression. She has no friends and is very solitary in her feelings and emotions. I, however liked her because I saw warmth, committment and love deep inside her. She just couldn't show it or accept/recognize how her harshness affected others.
I had the book on my shelf for awhile but never read it. Now I want to and started it last night. I'm anxious to compare the book and the movie and know I'll enjoy the book as much as, if not more than the movie.
The movie didn't make me sad and after I read the book, I'll probably place it on my shelf with books I cherish, love and made an impact on me.(less)
Judy Lindow Gawd, all these comments are telling me something about myself. I never thought: depressing like a lot of people seem to experience the book. I though…moreGawd, all these comments are telling me something about myself. I never thought: depressing like a lot of people seem to experience the book. I thought: realistic, honest, sad. I guess the matter of fact way, the know it all, kind of person Olive is - is not too dissimilar to myself. There are some beautiful sentiments, expressing hope, anticipation, and greed for the future - what happens in the end is nothing to sneeze at. IMO Olive's realistic and frank perspective is more exciting to me than someone who's a Pollyanna. Yes, I questioned whether there could be that much woe, sometimes ... but fell on the side of yes, there could be, there is, it's just that it's so ugly and scary sometimes we don't look or talk about it. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  164,466 ratings  ·  18,912 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Olive Kitteridge (Olive Kitteridge, #1)
Lesley
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 ...more
Scott Axsom
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and I’ve struggled since to find the reasons why Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge struck me so deeply. So let me start by just saying; this book was awesome. Appreciating the reasons why, however, required from me considerable introspection. The subtlety of its beauty is indeed the mark of a great novel.

I came to this book reluctantly and I’m not sure why - anything with a Pulitzer usually draws me like a bear to honey - but perhaps it was due to the
...more
Nancy
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 ver
...more
Will Byrnes
Jun 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Olive Kitteridge is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning collection of stories that constitute a novel. They are not as closely woven together as the multi-generational tales in works by Louise Erdrich, another writer who likes to collect small parts into a larger whole, but Strout has put together a compelling portrait of a small town. I was reminded of Spoon River, as we learn some of the secrets each of the main characters protects. Lake Wobegon came to mind, as well. It most resembles Winesburg, Ohio, S ...more
Julie
Today's the big day. . . my 500th review for Goodreads. Drum roll, please!

Hmmm. . .

No drum roll?

No compensation?

No accolades, either?

Ah, hell. I don't care. I just want to read and write and read and write and read and write, and almost every review I've ever written here on Goodreads, from the completely anonymous to the refreshingly well-received, has made me want to click my shiny red heels with joy.

And I don't need to close my eyes and intonate there's no place like home, there's no place
...more
Michael Finocchiaro
I don't quite understand what the hubbub was about this book: it did after all get a Pulitzer and TV show. However, I felt that the writing was ok, the narration was interesting, but I never even came close to feeling some sympathy or connection to Olive like I did for Updike's Rabbit Angstrom or, say, Bellow's Dean Corde. The New England she describes as anti-Semitic and full of silent scandals was more interesting and fun in, say Updike's Witches of Eastwick. It was a little unsettling and dis ...more
Robin
Oh bestill my heart. I am not worthy. I AM NOT WORTHY!

How, in the name of all that is holy, does Elizabeth Strout do it? I mean, how does she create a book out of a collage of stories, linked by one exceptionally prickly, ornery yet honest character, through writing that is at once complex and invitingly simple? HOW?

This 2009 Pulitzer winner is fully deserving of its accolades and superfans. I read this with keen interest and pleasure all the way through. It's a collection of 13 stories which co
...more
Jaline
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-completed
This novel is definitely about Olive Kitteridge: who she is, who she was, and most importantly, the “who” that she sees within herself.

Her story is told through a series of connected stories: friends, neighbours, past students, people she knows in passing. It is interesting, and oh, so intriguing, that many people view her from so many different perspectives, yet there are also common threads of viewpoint.

Many of the stories are not about Olive Kitteridge at all, yet she moves in and out of each
...more
Jim Fonseca
May 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As I write my review, I see that there are thousands of reviews already, so what can I add? Just this: Olive joins the ranks of depressing small town short stories, a long-running theme in American literature, so much so that it is almost a genre in itself. These stories are set in coastal Maine. Olive follows upon Winesburg Ohio by Sinclair Lewis, Main Travelled Roads by Hamlin Garlin, Village by Robert McAlmon and many others. (We could call it Winesburg, Maine.) What is the value of such stor ...more
Fabian
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
It's incredibly difficult to find substance in the ordinary. This novel in episodes, all revolving around the ever enigmatic Olive, does something extraordinary: each tale is so rich with description, so tangible (I believe I breathed in the saltiness of the Maine coast, practically) that they ...transcend. There is actually nothing innovatory in Elizabeth Strout's fantastic short story collection but she knows perfectly well how to orchestrate a fabulous and gut-wrenching short story: every sin ...more
Tatiana
I've listened to 4 stories out of 13 and I think I've had enough. This book should come with a Depressed Senior Citizen Characters warning. I am sure my impression of this book is colored by the awful narrator/actor who read every character, regardless of the age and gender, as a 80-year old screeching and bleating elderly person (no offense to elderly), but the fact is the majority (if not all) of characters are old and/or miserable.

1/4th of the book is over, and I have encountered: an elderly
...more
jo
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: linda, wilhelmina
Recommended to jo by: jean
don't know if it was me being meditative or moody or under the sobering influence of the recession, but i found this absolutely gorgeous book SO DAMN SAD. there are, let's see, at least two suicides but it might be three, three deaths but it might be more (one the death of a very young person), intolerably sad aging folks, a myriad broken relationships, and a ton of god-awful loneliness. how can a town as sweet and stably populated as crosby, maine, foster so much loneliness? aren't small towns ...more
Peter
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Betrayal
Olive Kitteridge is a Pulitzer Prize Winner for fiction, which is breath-taking in its beauty and eloquence. The structure of the novel is 13 episodic stories, which provide a candid and searching insight into a small community in the coastal town of Crosby in Maine. It would be unfortunate to race through the pages without savouring the atmosphere, the wonderful sense of time, and the rich array of fascinating characters that enhance the human relationships on display. It takes the litt
...more
Steve
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
You don’t have to love Olive Kitteridge to love Olive Kitteridge. Thinking of Olive the person, to say she’s multidimensional doesn’t go far enough. I need a new word—hyperdimensional, maybe. And she’s often at the extremes, in ways that may be positive, negative, paradoxical, or shifting. She’s the central figure in every other one of the 13 separate stories, and in the ones that focus on others she’s a secondary reference point (though hardly a fixed one). We certainly get a chance to know her ...more
Jen
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh Olive. You are a character I despise and love at the same time. A negative nily who somehow embeds herself into my heart. Maybe because you are so real. And transparent.

I’m not a fan of short stories but I am a Strout fan. I was delighted to find this one so easy to embrace and I became fully immersed in this charming story that takes place in a small town. Through the 12 lives of what the story is about, the common thread is Olive.

Olive isn’t a well liked person. She reeks negativity and bit
...more
Joe Valdez
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
The best novel I've read since joining Goodreads is East of Eden by John Steinbeck. The second best is Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Published in 2008 and winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, this collection of thirteen stories all feature or focus on a retired seventh grade math teacher in the fictional seaside town of Crosby, Maine as she enters the winter of her life, still in possession of the vinegar her former students or fellow townsfolk have tasted for years. Like Stein ...more
Karen
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just loved these stories... Olive, what a character.. and Henry, who wouldn’t love him!
Looking forward to Olive, Again!!
This was my third Elizabeth Strout book.. I also loved both My Name is Lucy Barton and Anything is Possible
Debbie
Oh yes, you bet I grabbed my pogo stick!

WOW WOW WOW! Damn straight I grabbed my pogo stick! I couldn’t sit still—I needed to hop. I couldn’t help it; this book is a masterpiece! It made my heart sing, my soul smile, my thoughts race. Every single sentence, beauteous. Emotion spilling out between the lines. This Olive, she gets under your skin bigtime. And the writer? I bow to this literary genius!

I could just sit here and gush all day long, but gush gets pretty boring. I loved the book; you get
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Olive Kitteridge (Olive Kitteridge #1), Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge (2008) is a novel by American author Elizabeth Strout. It presents a portrait of the title character and a number of recurring characters in the coastal town of Crosby, Maine. It takes the form of 13 short stories that are interrelated but discontinuous in terms of narrative. It won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award.

Stories: Pharmacy; Incoming Tide; The P
...more
Phrynne
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2019
I recently read My Name Is Lucy Barton and enjoyed Lucy so much I was predisposed to like Olive as well. Olive Kitteridge is of course a Pulitzer prize winner but that can be a good or a bad thing.

This is a series of short stories bound together by the character of Olive. She sometimes appears briefly and sometimes features largely in the narratives. As the reader we are obliged to formulate our own opinions of her character from the many ways she is viewed by the other characters in the stories
...more
Brina
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every year I grow giddy with anticipation for the Pulitzer announcement. Usually the awards are announced on the third Monday in April at the luxurious Columbia University library. This year the award ceremony was pushed off until May 4 and streamed online. Although I was not overly thrilled with this year’s batch of winners, I am sure that I will find some hidden gems among the honorees. The fact that I am not overly wowed by the new winners has given me impetus to focus on my annual Pulitzer c ...more
emma
Every once in a while in a review, I will try to make a precarious point, in which my argument comes very close to making me sound like a huge asshole (when in fact it should only make me sound like kind of an asshole, like always).

So here’s the thing.

I don’t think anyone is wrong or judgmental or any other negative thing for liking this book.

I do, however, think it was written to make a certain group of people feel better about themselves, at the expense of another, larger group.

I will explain
...more
Dolors
Nov 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who stay afloat, regardless of life
Shelves: read-in-2014
“She didn’t like to be alone. Even more, she didn’t like being with people.”

Olive Kitterigde is much more than a retired teacher, intransigent mother, exasperating wife or whimsical neighbor. She is the common thread that interweaves the prosaic lives, everyday tragedies and asphyxiating Zeitgeist of the townspeople of Crosby, a small town located in Maine, a place where the lives of others collide with the adjacent frontiers of oneself.
Olive Kitteridge is the result of a finely threaded gossam
...more
Teresa
Mar 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
4 and 1/2 stars

We all have known an Olive -- or at least, we think we know her. Strout shows us the parts we don't know, what's behind the prickliness and the 'attitude.' Through fiction, we now have a better understanding of such a person.

It's a rare writer who can embody a character so well. And the minor characters too -- they are all living, breathing people. More than one of these 'minor' characters are so well-drawn and intriguing that I wouldn't have minded knowing more about them.

Not all
...more
Cheri
Aug 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Olive Kitteridge is opinionated, domineering, judgemental, interfering and needy. Her husband Henry is gentle, timid and kind. Their life in a small town in Maine is complex, sad, and seemingly incomplete. Olive spends most of her time bitter and sad. Olive is the woman whose cold, offensive manner is an embarassment, Henry is the man whose expression always seems to be carrying an apology about his wife’s behavior. Their son spends his life hoping for an apology from at least one of his parents ...more
Andy Marr
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a beautiful book, with a wonderful ending. However, if you're reading the Kindle version of the book, it's worth noting that the book actually ends with the story 'River' - the chapter that follows it, 'Burgess Boys', is, in fact, offered as an introduction to Strout's 2013 novel, 'The Burgess Boys', though the publishers make no effort to make this distinction clear.
Paige
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it.”

I absolutely loved this novel compromised of short stories. Taken from your normal everyday situations, the lush phrases and varied character dimensions created an emotional and heartfelt journey of small-town people experiencing small changes in life that often have the biggest impact. At times, I wanted to eat the words off the page.

An appearance from Olive Kitteridge in each short story is what makes
...more
Christine
4.5 stars (rounded to 5 stars)

I wasn’t going to read this one, but after looking at the sea of 5-star reviews from my Goodreads friends I succumbed to peer pressure. Plus, I was surprised to see that it is an actual Pulitzer Prize winner. I’m not sure I had ever read a Pulitzer Prize winner before, so with that too in mind, how could I resist? I am so late to this party, it’s shameful, but better late than never, right? Right.

I skipped over the blurb and dove right in as I often do. The first fe
...more
Meredith Holley
If I could use one word to describe this book, it would probably be “boring.” “Awkward” is a close runner-up. I think Elizabeth Strout must be the type of person who is less of the entertainment school of writing and more of the vitamins school of writing. But, I am left wondering what nutritional value I got out of this. Mostly, it just seemed like a bunch of people sitting around being petty, judging other people’s Issues, and thinking about cheating on each other. Like, whoa, deep.

The struct
...more
Kimber
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
When I really love something words don't do it justice. There is something so real and authentic here.

Make no mistake, this won't be everyone's cup of tea. But what Strout is doing here, with these nonlinear and connected stories is nothing short of phenomenal. Olive is the same complex and flawed character seen from different angles like cuts of a diamond and yet did I love her through them all. No small feat, Ms. Strout.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Dutch House
  • Such a Fun Age
  • American Dirt
  • Dear Edward
  • The Giver of Stars
  • Nothing to See Here
  • Girl, Woman, Other
  • Ask Again, Yes
  • The Vanishing Half
  • The Water Dancer
  • All Adults Here
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had
  • Writers & Lovers
  • Redhead by the Side of the Road
  • The Glass Hotel
  • Red at the Bone
  • The Nickel Boys
  • The Book of Longings
See similar books…
5,866 followers
Elizabeth Strout is the author of several novels, including: Abide with Me, a national bestseller and BookSense pick, and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. In 2009 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her book Olive Kitteri ...more

Other books in the series

Olive Kitteridge (2 books)
  • Olive, Again

Articles featuring this book

There's nothing like the pain of finishing a book with a cliffhanger…and needing to wait months (if not years) for the next book. Save yourse...
22 likes · 12 comments
“You couldn't make yourself stop feeling a certain way, no matter what the other person did. You had to just wait. Eventually the feeling went away because others came along. Or sometimes it didn't go away but got squeezed into something tiny, and hung like a piece of tinsel in the back of your mind.” 157 likes
“What young people didn't know, she thought, lying down beside this man, his hand on her shoulder, her arm; oh, what young people did not know. They did not know that lumpy, aged, and wrinkled bodies were as needy as their own young, firm ones, that love was not to be tossed away carelessly . . . No, if love was available, one chose it, or didn't chose it. And if her platter had been full with the goodness of Henry and she had found it burdensome, had flicked it off crumbs at a time, it was because she had not know what one should know: that day after day was unconsciously squandered. . . . But here they were, and Olive pictured two slices of Swiss cheese pressed together, such holes they brought to this union--what pieces life took out of you.” 112 likes
More quotes…