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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fiction (2019)
Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire us—in Strout’s words—“to bear the burden of the mystery with as much grace as we can.”

289 pages, Hardcover

First published October 15, 2019

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About the author

Elizabeth Strout

40 books10.8k 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 Kitteridge. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker. She teaches at the Master of Fine Arts program at Queens University of Charlotte.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,782 reviews
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,276 reviews2,213 followers
June 22, 2019
Elizabeth Strout is such a keen observer of human nature, of our shared condition and she reminds us that life is full of a struggle of some kind for pretty much all of us. In Crosby, Maine you’ll find characters dealing with loneliness, infidelity, alcoholism, sickness, aging, death, regrets, so many regrets. Thankfully, there also is friendship and love and empathy that Olive Kittridge finds within herself to give, because the truths about life are dauntingly sad at times. More than once I stopped between stories to take a breath. This is Crosby, Maine, the small coastal town where our old friend Olive Kittridge lives. In reality it could be anywhere, but of course it wouldn’t be the same unless Olive was there. She’ll tell you exactly what she thinks about you in brutally honest words. She’s not the best wife or mother and honestly she can be pretty brash, but it becomes obvious, though, that in spite of the things she says she cares. I found at times her softer side, her more vulnerable side that aren’t alway evident. I can’t say I liked Olive very much when I started reading Olive Kitteridge, but by the end of that book I realized how many people she had positively impacted as a teacher and as a neighbor. And by the end of this book, I thought how lucky some of these characters were to have Olive in their lives and I felt for Olive as she endures her own challenges.

As in the first book, Strout skillfully weaves separate stories together, with Olive as the thread, but these books for me felt like novels. On the one hand it’s Olive’s story as she reaches her seventies and eighties . She’s older and maybe a little more self aware, but always trying to understand herself. She’s the center of a number of the stories and we come to know more about her as she comes to know more about herself. Some of the stories will give you that gut punch, when Olive comes to painful moments of recognition about her family, her friends and acquaintances and of course herself. In some of the stories she makes a real connection and engages with another character and only makes an appearance in others. Crosby and this book are populated with realistic characters, including Olive who are filled with fears, flaws, frailties that are easily recognizable in ourselves. What can I say about the writing, other than its impeccable. I felt the pull of these characters from the opening lines of pretty much every story. Strout is a fabulous story teller and is on my list of favorite writers. I definitely recommend that Olive Kitteridge be read first in order to fully appreciate the place in her life where Olive has come at the end of this book.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,543 reviews24.6k followers
October 15, 2019
No-one can write like the incomparable Elizabeth Strout, her understanding of what it is to be human and penetrate the beating heart of what comprises a community has a universality that cannot fail to resonate with the reader, sometimes perhaps uncomfortably so in the truths it lays bare, such as the physically and emotionally taxing process of ageing. Olive returns, maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but definitely mine, indomitable, outspoken, cantankerous, a larger than life presence in the lives of those around her, an indisputably influential woman, even if it is sometimes in the slightest of appearances in the stories that pour forth about the community of Crosby, Maine, from the pen of Strout. Olive lives through her seventies and eighties, getting married for the second time to 74 year old Jack Kennison, who may find Olive irritating on occasion but loves Olive, all that she is, the two finding a companionship that eases the loneliness of losing their spouses and getting older.

Olive is aware of her shortcomings as a wife to Henry, she misses him, an ache that never disappears even as her life appears to move on, and as a mother to her son, Christopher, when his family come for a rare visit, there is a palpable awkwardness and a moment that opens her eyes as she perceives him as a motherless child, but, who as becomes apparent later, despite everything, loves her. We encounter a piano playing teenager who cleans homes, acquiring cash from a strange and silent transaction with a husband. A daughter cannot bear her inheritance from a morally bankrupt father and his profits from dubious investments in South Africa, she finds solace and faith in the company of her lawyer, Bernie. Bernie is finding it difficult to come to terms with many of his morally reprehensible clients, whose behaviour he has facilitated through the years. There is a family's conflict as it comes to terms with a daughter starring in a documentary of her life as a dominatrix. Strout does not shy away from darker aspects of community, such as the abuse, the toxic families, and the challenges of alcoholism, infidelity, cancer, and the feelings of despair, the pain, and the tears. Olive faces regret and loneliness, becoming considerably more self aware as she ponders over the mystery of who she is and the joys and wonder of love that can sprout from the most unexpected of places.

Strout is an exquisite storyteller, subtle and nuanced, who gets to core of a person and a community with a simplicity that is breathtaking, and does so with grace, humanity and compassion. Her portrait of Olive is outstanding, multilayered and complex, in the way she depicts Olive, getting older, more invisible, lonelier, but still striving to live, connect and learn, about herself and others. This is a profoundly moving novel, captivating in its portrayal of the everyday ordinariness and extraordinariness of its characters, an approach that packs a punch in its gut wrenching emotional honesty. Simply brilliant and highly recommended. Many thanks to Penguin UK for an ARC.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,921 reviews35.4k followers
September 26, 2019
Powerful emotional truthfulness - and unforgettable narrative:
Brilliant novel!!!!

Olive was aware of ludicrous behaviors- unspeakable things spoken - but what she did not understand is why she and her son, Christopher should walk into old age with a high and horrible wall between them.

Olive could be blunt, forthright, frank, and candid.
She had strong opinions- and judgements... she hated people who were late.. etc.
I happened to feel as strong as Olive did about a scene at a baby shower:
“A third gift was presented to Marlene’s daughter, and Olive distinctly felt distress. She could not imagine how long it would take this child to unwrap every goddamn gift on the table and put the ribbons so carefully on the goddamn paper plate, and then everyone had to wait—‘wait’ — while every gift was passed around. She thought she had never heard of such foolishness in her life”.

It was easy to understand Olive’s impatience and judgements. Of course she kept her thoughts to herself - but they were so human.
I could just picture that baby shower— the happy smiling guests - but also Olive - at 70ish years old... and her annoyance.

Another scene was puzzling and quite disturbing. I honestly wondered - where in the world was this coming from.
Kayley, was a young girl who took pleasure and money from a man - Mr. Ringrose - whom she cleaned house for - while unbuttoning her blouse. He watched - said thank you - then left her an envelope with cash. This went on for nine weeks.
“There was no one Kayley could tell about what had happened, and this knowledge stayed in her and made her almost constantly unwell”.
I won’t say how the short story ends... but it’s one to scratch your head with wonder.

I wasn’t prepared to feel so sad in some of these short stories- but I did.
Olive barely made it though a visit with her son, Christopher - his wife, Annabelle- and their three kids.
Olive was exhausted. Some quiet cruelty- coldness - was making me feel depleted. I felt so sad witnessing the detachment and bitterness between the bratty children and their grandmother - the imperfections of Olive never being able to do anything right - not even having enough milk or Cheerios...
My heart was breaking for the pain of ‘each’ of the family members... but I especially felt sad for Olive.
To have to feel rejected - judged by your adult children and grandchildren ‘while’ dealing with aging has got to really hurt. It’s a lonely hurt - that author,
Elizabeth Strout soooooo masterly and gracefully understands. Her skill of unraveling the complexities of family life and relationships is written with deep compassion for humanity.

It was so easy to imagine the different characters muddling through - carrying on - enduring the necessary sorrows and joys of their lives well beyond the pages.

This book could easily be a stand alone. Strout binds
together rich narratives - crafted much like she did years ago with her Pulitzer winning novel “Olive Kitteridge”... with great insights, tensions, humor, startling sadness, and compassion.

One of the most emotionally radiant novels about family- and what divides us in our relationships- and definitely about aging....that I’ve read in years.

Olive who has become a baggy old woman - thought about this:
“ The way people can love those they barely know, and how abiding that love can be, even when — as in her own case — it was temporary”.

Kudos- huge kudos and congrats to Elizabeth Strout for writing - ‘again’ a keenly observed lustrously imagined marvelous novel.

Thank you Random House, Netgalley, and the astonishing Elizabeth Strout
Profile Image for Irena BookDustMagic.
609 reviews477 followers
August 25, 2020
Edit: After receiving backlash for my subjective opinion on this novel, I don't even bother to reply to your negative comments, and I report and delete all the comments from fake accounts.

Once again I didn’t do my homework, and went into Olive, Again without knowing it was a sequel to already published book called Olive Kitteridge.
Nevertheless, this book can be read on it’s own.
However, if I read it’s predecessor, I would just skip this one for sure.

I’m not saying this is a bad book, because, judging by other readers’ and critics’ reviews, it is a really, really good book, but it wasn’t for me.
I just couldn’t see it’s greatness, I guess.

I think that the main reason why I couldn’t connect with the story was that the main character, Olive, is so much older then me.
This is the thing I realized while reading this novel: I just can’t enjoy the story, connect with it if the characters are so much older then me (we talk here about 70+ years old characters, and even 80+ as the story progressed).
Therefore, thanks to this piece of literature, I made a decision not to read books featuring old main characters any more (at least at this period of my life).

The second issue I had with Olive was that I didn’t like her as a character at all. I know she is described as honest, outright and ruthless, but to me, she often came as just rude.
I just didn’t like her energy and I could not care for her or what was going on in her life, and it especially showed as I was further into the story.
I caught myself scanning the last 50 pages of the story because I just wanted to be finished with it.

It is a shame, I do know, but it is what it is!

Also, when it comes to writing style my expectations were pretty high because this novel is labelled as literary fiction, which stands for beautiful prose.
Unfortunately, I was very disappointed because it read as simple general fiction.

Still, I have to note that the book covers some pretty important things and some of the stories that involved other characters were interesting.

On the other hand, there were some situations that made me feel uncomfortable (like when Olive said that it was stupid that an adult man cries aloud, and even if he’s Jewish, it’s still stupid).

In the end I’ll just repeat that Olive, Again is very loved book and I am aware that many people won’t agree with my opinion.
As for me, I won’t be reading Elizabeth Strout’s other work because I don’t think I would enjoy it at this stage of my life.

Read this and more reviews on my blog https://bookdustmagic.com
October 15, 2019
Olive, Again is a novel that is boldly observant, honest and searches for apperception. The story of the indomitable Olive Kitteridge follows on two years after her husband Henry’s death. Olive is a little more introspective on how she, as a person, her behaviour and relationships have evolved as she ages into her eighties, especially as she experiences loss and loneliness.

Two years after Henry’s death, Olive starts a relationship with Jack Kennison, which is touching and meaningful. Jack is also a widower with some history, where an unfortunate affair and dubious sexual assault claim with a colleague ended his career as a Professor at Harvard University. Jack’s relationship with Olive develops and while it creates new possibilities and feelings it opens the door on how they behaved towards their respective spouses. How they both missed them and how they feel about each other. It also sparks the realisation that people hide emotions and worries they can’t explain, which subconsciously agitates prejudices towards the world. Olive is a person who doesn’t step reservedly into how she perceives the world and how quick she is to comment about people in it. As Jack notes,
“People either didn’t know how they felt about something or they chose never to say how they really felt about something. And this is why he missed Olive Kitteridge.”

Olive uncloaks her deepest disquieting memories and reflects for the first time that she may have contributed to the broken or strained relationships she had, especially with Henry and her son, Christopher. Considering her marriage to Henry, she reflects that as the years passed the more distant her heart became and the needier his became. Wondering about her son’s marriage, Olive catches a glimpse of some hidden moments. The door to their relationship slightly opening. Peering into the interior and seeing what she was not meant to see. “Her son had married his mother.” This was how Olive had behaved to her husband, not realising that “… she herself had raised a motherless son.”

The novel delivers what a special book does beyond entertainment; it creates the scope to connect the writing to our own stories or those not far away. It enables us to view issues through a different lens and wonder are these the events we couldn't face or appreciate. We push these notions into the darkest corners of our mind and wrestle with them when we let them loose. Several are let loose in this novel with outcomes of remorse, pain, heartbreak and guilt.

While I felt the first book had an overarching theme of betrayal this book searches for understanding and resolution and uses various threads to provide amazing glimpses into the difficulties people face in life, especially with the burden of illness, family misunderstandings or psychological trauma. The scenarios are intriguing and captivating and along with beautiful prose and astounding characterisations, this book is a joy to read. I felt this book was slightly better than the first. It was much less a work of short stories and more a solid narrative of Olive with threads that expand around her.

This is one of my favourite books of the year and it certainly didn’t disappoint after the long wait for the sequel. I highly recommend reading this book and I'd like to thank Penguin Books, Viking and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC version in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,132 reviews39.3k followers
September 14, 2020
Four impeccably intercepted sad, depressing, self-discovery stories circled around a memorable literature character stars!

Our one of the grumpiest, most straightforward, sullen, cantankerous, grouchiest characters of fictional world is back! ( Frances McDormand did an amazing job to help me visualize this woman, nobody can be better Olive than her!) And its back with amazing, sad, heart-wrenching Crosby stories (some of them, she only makes small cameos, cursing at a painting as she is passing through the street and at some of the stories, she has close relationships with characters.)
What is different about Olive in this new book?
She is older now. We’re gonna witness her aging from her 70’s to 80’s.
She starts to help people ( even she gives them true answers about the cruelty of life make people feel like slapped against the face or stabbed to the heart, she is doing her best with her own way.)
She is always brutal honest, never sugarcoats and empathizes you! So people of Crosby should consider Jack Nichilson’s famous quote from “A Few Good Men” before asking her opinion. “You cannot handle the truth” so stay away from her forever!

Now she is older more sensible, self-aware, still questions herself and always tries to understand inner motives of her actions. I actually can admit that she touches people’s lives and changes them in her own branded way which is great for her friends and family because she really supports and helps them make positive changes on their lives.

I actually find her easier to connect at this book because she starts to get soften just a little bit as she gets older. She sees more about herself and the outer world objectively. But when it comes to the other people’s stories, some of the characters are easy to resonate, love and find some common things, some reflections from your own life. We are already introduced to Jack from the first book and now the first story is of the book is about him helps us to connect with the first book but as I started to be introduced with more new characters, I had really hard time to remember all those names and confused a little.

When I resumed my reading and started to clear my mind to learn more about the new characters, I found out, not all of them were truly connectable. Some of them just pissed me off or make me more depressed. When you read a book with so many characters, there are always risks not to concentrate fully on their stories and you may dislike them wholeheartedly which affects your opinion and overshadow your judgment, opinions about the entire book.
I found the stories a little bleak, gloomy and heavy. Maybe I was looking for more twisty and surprising things or more hopeful remarks help us to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t say I didn’t like them but they made me give so much breaks to breathe I and out. I felt suffocated with all those depressing but realistic, heartbreaking, amazingly told stories.

Of course The Poet and Labor are my favorite stories that I truly enjoyed.

So as a summary, Strout is so talented and intelligent writer and a puzzle maker. She invented an amazing town with its people and made me believe they were real because nothing about her stories and all those characters were over exaggerated or artificial. They are from real life. They are from the heart and soul. I mostly enjoyed her gifted writing and master story-telling. It was one of the best fictions I’ve read so far.
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,123 reviews1,625 followers
March 10, 2023

Ancora tu,
non mi sorprende, lo sai?
Ancora tu,
ma non dovevamo vederci più?
E come stai?
Domanda inutile
Stai come me.

A volte ritornano. Prima era tornata Lucy Barton: e ora, Olive. Ancora lei.
Non è cambiata, continua a ispirare poco simpatia, così brusca e spinosa.

Quello che ispira simpatia è il mondo della Strout. È Crosby, Maine. E oltre alla simpatia, ispira empatia.
Ma non è mai ricominciare da capo, è solo andare avanti.

Può succedere anche guardando un film così così, più bello per le cose che si sentono che per quelle che si vedono. Può succedere che il film salga in alto, s’impenni, perché si assiste a performance attoriali magistrali (in questo caso Annette Bening, che non mi stanco di guardare, e ammirare).
Può succedere di ascoltare parole che entrano dentro, e si fermano. Galleggiano nell’anima.
Le parole che seguono, che trovo molto adatte anche a questo libro.

I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.
You have been mine before,—
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow's soar
Your neck turned so,
Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.
Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time's eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death's despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?

Sono già stato qui,
Ma non so quando né come;
Conosco l’erba oltre la porta,
Il dolce odore intenso,
Un suono gemente, le luci attorno alla spiaggia.
Tu sei già stata mia.
Quanto tempo fa posso non saperlo
Ma proprio quando al librarsi di quella rondine,
Il tuo collo si è girato in quel modo,
Un velo è caduto – conoscevo tutto questo in passato.
Tutto questo non l’abbiamo forse già vissuto?
E non fa così anche il tempo con il suo turbinio incessante
Che ancora una volta d’amore colma le nostre vite
A dispetto della morte,
E giorno e notte istilla una delizia ancora?

Sono parole di Dante Gabriel Rossetti, che oltre dipingere magnifici quadri, componeva splendidi versi come questi qui sopra. La poesia si chiama Sudden Light, ma credo che il suo verso iniziale sia quello che più la richiama alla memoria.

E capì che non bisognava mai prenderla alla leggera, la profonda solitudine della gente, che le scelte fatte per arginare quella voragine di buio esigevano molto rispetto.

Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,290 reviews120k followers
December 12, 2019
“When you get old, you become invisible. It’s just the truth. And yet it’s freeing in a way…You go through life and you think you are something. Not in a good way, and not in a bad way. But you think you are something, and then you see that you are no longer anything. To a waitress with a huge hind end you’ve become invisible, And it’s freeing.”
Sometimes people come into your life at just the right time. People you have known turn up, unexpected, and you re-engage, begin again. It was like that for Elizabeth Strout. She was sitting alone in a café in Norway, minding her own business, when Olive inserted herself into her life once again, in her car, nosing her way into a marina, cane in hand. I saw it so clearly—felt her so clearly—that I thought, Well, I should go with this. (from the New Yorker interview). It’s not like Olive Kitteridge had been totally absent from Strout’s life. They had parted ways after Olive won Strout a Pulitzer. But there were bits of her around, pieces of story that did not quite work, material for somewhere, somewhen. But the image was stronger this time, whole, a large presence, demanding attention. And so, it was back to Crosby, Maine, back into the life of a difficult, but complex character, crusty, quick to scorn, but with a warm, perceptive core.

Elizabeth Strout - image from the Irish Times

Olive, and the other characters in Olive, Again, face the ongoing problem of loneliness, among other things. Thematically, this is very much in line with the original Olive Kitteridge, focusing on relationships, considered both in retrospect and in the immediacy of experience. Lives examined. Olive, for example wends her way through diverse and contradictory feelings about her late husband, Henry. And then wanders in her feelings about a new love interest, Jack. She has to cope with her relationship with her son, Chris, now living in Brooklyn, (where Strout has lived, mostly, for over thirty years) and take a tough look at herself as a mother, seeing some less-than-wonderful behavior of hers repeating in her son’s life. There are some particularly moving scenes with Olive trying to make sense of her role with Chris and his family. Olive is not the only character here putting a life under the microscope. Jack Kennison, Olive’s new bf, has plenty of his past to reconsider, including his relationship with his daughter, and is in for a bit of a surprise that had been kept from him for decades.

As in the first volume, the stories alternate, pretty much, between Olive, and not Olive, although Olive does cameos in the tales that do not focus on her. A teen, working cleaning houses part time, finds herself resenting the excessive pride one woman displays about her Mayflower heritage. (Strout can track her New World ancestors back to 1603) She finds herself in a very unexpected, awkward, and remunerative situation, that requires a lowering of her standards. Or is it a seizing of power in her life? The story includes a consideration of the class bias that still persists in far too many, as Kayley Callaghan has had it drilled into her that as a working class girl of Irish heritage, she will always be invisible to people like the Doris Ringroses of the world. She finds a way to make herself seen. In one of Olive’s stories, she copes with a MAGA home health aide, and former student of Olive’s, resenting the presence of another HHA, a dark-skinned, hijab-wearing USA-born Muslim, whose mother was an immigrant from Africa.

A returnee to town on the passing of her father finds deep solace in the family attorney, and a welcoming ear to hear her tales of growing up in an abysmal home. There is such pain, warmth, emotional connection and relief in this one, that you may want to have a box of Kleenex handy.
“I think our job—maybe even our duty—is to—" Her voice became calm, adultlike. “Bear the burden of the mystery with as much grace as we can.”
One of the persistent motifs throughout the stories is secrecy. Pretty much all the characters have things they have kept to themselves. Haven’t we all? Some of the secrets are not your garden variety misdemeanors or marital wanderings, but most will be at least somewhat relatable.
Ever since I was a kid on that dirt road, I think that the biggest compelling engine in me has always been the desire to know what it feels like to be another person. I just always have been pulled through life by that deep curiosity to know. It’s a frustration for me to not even know what, like, these fingers touching the desk would feel like if it wasn’t me. As a result I have watched and watched and listened to people all the time. I’m always trying to absorb the tiniest detail that I can see or hear from them. - from the Guardian interview
Olive is in the latter stages of her life. We follow her into her 80s, as her capacities decline, and she must make unwelcome adjustments in her daily existence. There are so many facets to Olive that she glistens like a diamond. She is preternaturally crusty, and can be a chore to be around, (enough so, that Strout claims this is the reason she alternated Olive tales with stories of other Crosby residents) but she has a sort of perceptual superpower that lets her see some core emotional elements in people, and is able to jump in and act on her perceptions. This is where her kindness, her softer side, her dynamism comes to the fore. It is a thing of magnificent beauty when it does. She is even able to embrace friendship!

There is considerable lyrical beauty in Strout’s writing
You could see how at the end of each day the world seemed cracked open and the extra light made its way across the stark trees, and promised. It promised, that light, and what a thing that was. As Cindy lay on her bed she could see this even now, the gold of the last light opening the world.
The light is significant, particularly the late winter light of February, and we are offered frequent glimpses of trees reddening, and leaves falling, as what was is slowly stripped away to clear the path for what is to come.

Strout brings some characters back from volume #1 for a closer look. She even brings in a few from her 2013 novel, The Burgess Boys.
I remember walking down the street one day and all of a sudden realizing, Oh! Jim and Helen Burgess could actually be in Crosby, Maine. They could have dropped their grandson off at camp. That’s what New Yorkers do, they send their kids to camp in Maine. So I thought, how fabulous. It was so fun, particularly because it gave me the chance to explore the enormous cultural divide between New York City and Maine.
There is some political perspective in this, not a lot, and some of the political turns are achingly poignant. There are moments of humor as well. Olive’s misery while attending a baby shower is priceless, as is her eagerness to flee, regardless the cost.

We are all right for a book at different times of life. Olive, Again may be right on the money for me. While I am not the age Olive is at the end of the book, I have a sister who is, and who is facing similar situations. As a senior citizen I can certainly relate to the issues Olive faces, as can most of us of this age, I expect. Was I a good parent? Did I do right by my kids? Was I the best person I could have been? Did I do something meaningful with my life? It will make you ask some of these questions of yourself. And if you have not yet achieved silver status, there are probably people around you who have. The concerns of the elders in this book might give you a clue as to what is going on in their lives. That said, there are plenty of younger characters banging around in these pages who can offer a perspective from a different generation.

The stories in Olive, Again are strong, moving, and beautifully written. Olive is as wonderful a character as she is difficult a person. It has been a privilege renewing our acquaintance. That late season light has a way of staying right in your face and making you squint. But it also gives a magical glow and shadow to all it reaches, helping make visible what might otherwise remain unseen.

Review posted – December 6, 2019

Publication date – October 15, 2019

My review of Olive Kitteridge

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages

-----New Yorker - Elizabeth Strout on Returning to Olive Kitteridge - by Devorah Treisman
-----New Yorker - Elizabeth Strout’s Long Homecoming by Ariel Levy
-----NPR - 'We've Got More To Say About You': Olive Kitteridge Is Back, And Complex As Ever - by Scott Simon
-----Irish Times - ‘She just showed up’: Elizabeth Strout on the return of Olive Kitteridge - by Catherine Conroy
----- Strand Book Store - Meg Wolitzer Talking with Elizabeth Strout - video – 50:46

Items of Interest
-----Excerpt - Motherless Child – in The New Yorker
----- PRH Author Lunch - Elizabeth Strout, author of OLIVE, AGAIN, at the PRH Author Lunch at the ALA Annual Conference 2019
Profile Image for Julie G .
870 reviews2,683 followers
October 28, 2019
I'm not sure if Elizabeth Strout ever has need of a bodyguard, and, if she does, I'm sure she wouldn't choose a short brunette female in her 40s, but, if she ever needs someone to protect her life, I would like to offer myself up as the best candidate. . .

. . . because I'm savage, positively savage about protecting this woman's writing career.

It's not that I demand that you, or anyone, like this novel. You have every right to like or dislike this book (and, please, please, can we always remember that on here?), but I'd love to have the opportunity to explain to readers why this woman's writing is better than 98% of what's currently out there.

This writer, this Elizabeth Strout, is able to do what almost no other writer has ever been able to do: create an iconic character you will never forget and whose existence you don't doubt for ONE DAMN MINUTE. Not even thirty seconds. Not even if you hate her.

As far as I'm concerned, Olive Kitteridge is so real, she's going to require a Certificate of Death, for tax purposes, when she dies.

And, beyond Olive (named for a drab shade of green, but don't you be fooled!), every other flipping character, every B character. . . hell, the clerk in the goddamned grocery store, is more developed than your next-door-neighbor.

And, the dialogue. . . whoa! Has she spent all six decades of her life just listening to the rise and fall of human babble?

And, the setting. . . where's the nearest airport to Crosby, Maine?

And, the plot lines. . . surely she weaves thread in her sleep?

It turns out, I wouldn't just step forward to throw a hot latte in a troll's face to protect Ms. Strout's shining visage; I'm also able to advise her that two of the stories in this collection SUCKED. Neither “Cleaning” nor “The Walk” were necessary here, and, in fact, they pull the reader out of the overall story. . . and STILL, this novel is a five star read.

I'm wrecked. I'm wrecked as a reader, wrecked as a writer.

Wrecked without Olive, again.

She had always been fierce when she felt like it.
Profile Image for Liz.
1,962 reviews2,410 followers
September 28, 2019
4.5 stars, rounded up

Elizabeth Strout is just a fabulous writer. Her ability to weave together a diverse group of characters always fascinates me. Her books are a blend between short stories and a novel. While I’m not a fan of short stories, her books always work for me, the way each chapter links to the next in its own weird way.

Olive, Again returns us to Crosby, Maine. Olive and her cronies are now in their 70s and looking back on their lives as much as forward. I felt an alliance with Olive. She’s not tactful, although she’s trying harder. And she’s not at ease. She struggles to find common ground with her own son, let alone his wife and their children.

As she moves through her old age, she finds a way to make things work. She becomes more accepting. I saw both myself and my parents reflected in Olive’s efforts to navigate the whole aging process.

Strout makes every character, not just Olive, seem fully formed and real. This is a small town and while it seems not much happens, the book speaks to life in all its variations. It was such a rich story, it totally drew me in.

My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.
Profile Image for Debbie.
433 reviews2,744 followers
September 9, 2019
In a knot, in a knot!

Scrunching, twisting, sighing instead of hopping on my pogo stick. It just didn’t do me like the last one did (sung in a bluesy voice). Oh, this book is good, very good, a 4-star read in fact, and it’s sitting on my 2019 Runners Up shelf as nice and happy as it can be. So it’s nuts to sound so disappointed. It’s just that the magic wasn’t there like it was in Olive Kitteridge, the moments when the words and the sentences dance in my head and turn me into a crazed pogo-sticker. Maybe it’s just me. My expectations were high as the sky, and I should have followed my mantra and lowered them. We all know that Olive Kitteridge is an insanely hard act to follow.

Man, I must stop this. Stop complaining and just talk about all the good. Olive, oh Olive. She’s so vivid and cool! And of course, there’s always the question: why do we love her like we do, when she really is so gruff and selfish? There’s Strout, doing her thing, making us like her! As Olive ages, she becomes way less obnoxious and cantankerous. In fact, she has MELLOWED! She even helps people, which, if she did in the first book, I don’t remember.

A few times, Olive asks people what their life is like. Although this is an excellent way to try to draw out people’s secrets and get them to reveal their souls (and a good way for the author to get character info out to the reader, lol), I’m not sure Olive would really have been that interested in other people to ask them this question. But I go back and forth on this. Olive is less self-absorbed; and she’s lonely. So isn’t that a recipe for reaching out to others?

Olive also, with age, becomes more and more self-aware. Strout does that thing of getting into Olive’s head so well (going into everyone’s head, actually), in a way that pulls out the heart. She goes into thoughts, and out comes feelings.

As always, Strout cuts to the bone. You’re going along thinking the characters are boring when slowly they start to reveal their inside story, which is usually a sad one. We just have to look close enough, and Strout makes it easy by giving us the magnifying glass.

What I love the most about the stories is how deep the conversations become, which makes the characters so real and complex. Olive wants REAL, and Olive gets it. There’s often a pattern—niceties are exchanged (so at first it looks like it’s the same old inane and mundane chit-chat that’s going nowhere), and then before you know it, the characters, often strangers or acquaintances, are talking about how they feel: disappointment with their spouses or kids; fear of aging and death; loneliness; grief; regrets; their mistakes or bad luck. Strout makes these conversations happen seamlessly, and it never seems fake.

Wouldn’t it feel richer if all our own conversations were that real and honest? Sometimes I wondered if Strout was stretching it—would people really open up that much? But she’s so skillful in her setups, I buy it. Any little doubt I have gets eaten up by a big I Don’t Care Anyway. What we end up seeing, and what’s so touching, is the rich connections people make, and the love (and pain) that exists within families. All of the thirteen stories end with poignant moments, which is always satisfying, even if there isn’t necessarily closure.

This book picks up right where Olive Kitteridge left off: the first story here is about Jack, who was in the last story in the earlier book. As with the first book, Olive stars in her own stories but she often makes cameo appearances in others. For example, in one story, her only appearance is when she passes by a woman buying a painting at a street fair. She mutters aloud something along the lines of “That’s crap!” And just those few words affect how the buyer viewed the picture once she got it home. How could it not? We get to see Olive through the eyes of people in her town as well through her own eyes.

One of the reasons that Olive is so endearing is that she hates pretension and prejudice. So it’s funny when Jack calls her a reverse snob. A comment like that (and there are several in this book) stopped me in my tracks and made me think about Olive’s outlook, and outlooks in real life. I love it that Strout stirs the pot and makes you think.

As I started each story, I was panting; hoping for more scoop about people I met in the first book. Instead, new people were constantly being introduced, which got annoying as I had to remember a bunch of new names. But if Strout had continued with some of the original characters, I would have had to reread stories in Olive Kitteridge to keep track, which would have been a royal pain—so, careful what I wish for. We did get follow-ups on some people, and I slurped up their stories like I was dying of thirst. Ha, and one nasty person from book 1 got theirs in book 2, and that’s always oh so satisfying! Way to go, Strout!

I could bring out the Complaint Board, but I just don’t want to write the words “Complaint Board” all bold-face and vivid. It’s Strout! Come on! I just can’t!

So, about that missing magic…I’m trying to figure out why I said this book doesn’t have the magic that Olive Kitteridge does, and here are the reasons I came up with:

--The language just doesn’t make the hair on my arms stand up. Making sentences sing is an art, and with Strout’s simplistic sentences, it’s even harder to do. I’ve read Strout’s My Name Is Lucy Barton, and I had the same problem—just some little thing in the language didn’t click with me. Maybe it seemed over-simplistic. With Anything Is Possible and Olive Kitteridge, the language absolutely mesmerized me. Hair on my arms standing up all over the place.

--The stories here don’t have as many surprises or twists.

--The stories are WAY more depressing.

--Too much introspection and philosophizing at the cost of plot.

I had fewer favorite stories in this collection, and even they seemed a little less powerful than the earlier Olive stories.

Hands-down favorite story:

“The Poet”—About a conversation between Olive and a former student who became a famous poet. OMG is this a great story! Ends with quite a zinger! I want to go reread that one right now!

Runners-up include:

“Cleaning”—A disturbing story about a teenager cleaning houses.

“The End of the Civil War Days”—A house with duct tape that divides territory, and a daughter with a secret life.

“Labor”—Olive’s thoughts while a mom-to-be opens presents at a baby shower are priceless. The scene made me laugh and it made me nod. Oh, poor Olive! And there’s a big, unexpected event, which changes the story entirely.

The fact that the stories are so depressing is a big deal for me. Maybe it’s worse because the stories are so realistic. And as Olive got older, I got older. The physical and psychological problems that old people have are huge and ugly, and Strout gently shoves them in our faces. I see-sawed between feeling like the last couple of stories were cathartic and feeling like I couldn’t stand another minute of reading about all the gloom ahead for me. Besides, if I want catharsis, my old-fart friends are just a phone call away. I have a major senior birthday coming up here next month. The problems of the aging Olive hit way too close to home. So this, of course, is not a criticism of the book; it’s just that the subject matter bummed me out too much. I’m thinking that if you’re under 65, you’ll have an easier time reading this book (it may not depress you); you’ll be able to fully appreciate the beauty of the stories, the art of this amazing writer, without thinking, “uh oh, I could be next.”

There’s talk about the fear of death. Again, on one hand I love that Strout covers such a real and important topic (one that no one wants to talk about), but on the other hand, reading about it makes me anxious as hell. It’s times like this that I say, bring on the funny, bring on fantasy lives! I read for escape, to help me avoid thinking about scary things that I have no power to change. This book didn’t take me far enough away from reality.

Despite my complaints, I recommend this book. Strout is a master storyteller. Her stories are intense, her characters are vivid and complex. I highlighted a gazillion sentences (and paragraphs), which I only do when I’m super engaged and impressed. There’s so much wisdom in this book!

If you loved Olive Kitteridge, you’ll love this book. If you didn't read Olive Kitteridge yet, you don’t have to read it first, but I think it makes the experience of reading this one a little richer.

I hope hope hope that they do another TV series based on Olive’s life. But they’d absolutely have to get Frances McDormand to play Olive again—I think hair and makeup artists could make her age perfectly.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.
Profile Image for Jaline.
444 reviews1,603 followers
September 28, 2019
Olive Kitteridge. One-time Math teacher. Wife. Mother. Grand-mother. We have met her before during various stages of her life, and in this novel, we are witness to her outspokenness and the force of her personality in the late autumn years of her life and on into the winter years.

The people of Crosby, Maine figure largely in this novel just as they did in the first. Many of these people we have also met before, and some are ones that come into Olive’s orbit through changes in their own circumstances. Regardless of how they came to be, they each contribute to the layers of humanity we are in close contact with throughout this novel.

Elizabeth Strout has surpassed the high calibre of her writing, taking us on an adventure of humanity where we experience a wide range of emotions, bolstered by the thoughts and interactions of the characters. Written with immense compassion coupled with Olive’s singular tart personality, this story elicits both recognition and empathy.

This novel is like a microcosm of the larger macrocosm we currently live in. I found myself completely ensorcelled moving between perspectives lived out by the characters in the modern world they found themselves in. The many changes over the decades of their lives and how they experience these changes are always present in the periphery.

The world within and the world without. Elizabeth Strout’s writing in this novel takes us deftly through both and blurs the boundaries between them. It was an unexpected surprise how accurately and beautifully the characters and their environs are presented – and how deeply I felt their reality.

For fans of Olive Kitteridge, this is a must-read. And for those who have yet to meet Olive Kitteridge, I implore you to do so. There are depths to Olive that encourage us to explore our own depths, and that is always a good thing.

Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of this novel, and to the author, Elizabeth Strout, for sharing Olive Kitteridge with us. Its publication date is October 15, 2019.
Profile Image for Anne Bogel.
Author 6 books52.1k followers
April 14, 2020
Absolutely fantastic, even better than the original Olive. Strout's talent lies in imbuing everyday moments with deep significance, and she shines in this collection.

I recommend reading these in order. I read Olive Kitteredge and Olive, Again nearly back-to-back, which made for a wonderful reading experience.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,694 reviews14.1k followers
September 23, 2019
An older and wiser, Olive?. Yes, somewhat but she is still outspoken, firm in her likes and dislikes, but more tactful and empathetic. Looking back she admits to mistakes she has made. Linked episodes, that is the description i would use describing this book. The people of Crosby, Maine, like all towns, are going through their individual crises and Olive flute in and out through their lives, sometimes with just a glancing blow. Some episodes are all Olive, catching us up on her life since her last staring role, in the last book.

Strout, takes the many incidents and foibles, the ordinary things that make up a day,and makes them interesting. As a reader one can relate to some of these occurrences, realizing these are the things that make up our lives. Childbearing, marriage, loneliness, friendship, health issues and aging. Yes, it's all here and plenty more. Life, in all its Glory and ugliness is what is on these pages, and Strout does them justice.

ARC from Random House.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,712 reviews2,239 followers
September 7, 2021

Olive has not changed much since I last spent time in her company, she is still the same opinionated, domineering, judgmental, interfering and needy woman, but time has passed. Time without her husband, Henry, whose quiet, gentle ways and willingness to see the good in people no longer softened the bitterness in their home since his passing, but it is also only in his death that she seems to begin to recognize the value of his ways in her life.

As in Olive Kitteridge, the characters that populate these intermingled stories don’t lead exciting lives; there isn’t much in Crosby, Maine that has changed. There are few opportunities for significant change, since the town seems to hang onto the ways of doing things the way they’ve always been done, while at the same time growing somewhat in social awareness.

Olive is, of course, still viewed by the town as the disagreeably irritable woman that has been crabby so long that she is referred to by such descriptions as “That pickle person. You know ---- what’s like a pickle?” followed by another saying ”That’s just who she is.”

These stories, which are all linked to Olive in one way or another, through past association as students or teachers she worked with before her retirement, longtime neighbors, they share these inner thoughts of Olive, and sometimes with Olive about life in Crosby, and their life struggles, and their lives since leaving Crosby. Still, this is Olive’s story.

With the passage of more years behind than before her, looking back on her life over the years, I loved the subtle growth in Olive, how she begins to see her failures as well as her growth, declaring herself perhaps “oh, just a tiny – tiny – bit better as a person” and finds herself wishing that Henry was around to see her light shine through.

Published: 15 Oct 2019

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group – Random House
Profile Image for Karen.
561 reviews1,104 followers
October 8, 2019
Olive... I just LOVE her!! She is the same Olive, frank..poking around in the lives of her fellow townsfolk of Crosby, Maine.
There was a lot of humor in her interactions (seriously funny, laugh out loud funny) but there was a lot of sadness in these stories too, as it deals with aging and loneliness.
You should definitely read this! Loved it!

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for this ARC!
Profile Image for JanB .
1,128 reviews2,296 followers
September 20, 2019
For those who loved Olive Kitteridge, as I did, have no fear. Olive is still Olive. And for those who have loved Strout’s previous books, a few characters make an appearance in this one. Olive is still the crusty, prickly, and judgmental woman who says what she thinks. But, she’s mellowing. Perhaps it’s the indignities of aging, or the fact that at her age the losses mount up quickly, but Olive takes a long hard look at herself and doesn’t always like what she sees.

As Olive deals with the harsh realities of getting older, she must also face some harsh truths about herself. There’s a particularly poignant moment when Olive realizes that how others see her is far different than she sees herself. Her eyes are opened that she has reaped what she has sown. Which should give satisfaction, but instead it made me even more empathetic, because the source of Olive's dysfunction is damage done in childhood. She doesn't want to be the way she is. It's complicated, this life of ours.

We see her struggling to be a better person, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much. But as we saw in the first book, Olive has a soft center and can be incredibly understanding and kind as she reaches out to others who are hurting. Then the next moment she’s judgmental and ugly. Perhaps she is more like most of us than we care to admit, a combination of great characteristics with some not-so-nice ones. Olive simply says some things out loud that most of us might only think, as when she declares the art at a local art fair to be “crap”.

I loved that this book caused me to think and reflect. I could only read two stories at a time before stopping to absorb and discuss what I’d just read. If you aren’t in the mood to read about illness, death, and the indignities of aging, then you might want to set this aside for later. Having just lost my mother a few months ago, there were parts that were painfully true to life. As difficult as it was for me, I appreciate that Strout doesn’t sugarcoat the reality.

Strout writes beautifully and with enormous empathy for the human condition, and is one of the few authors who writes about ordinary lives in an extraordinary way. But, as in any collection, some of the stories resonated while others, not so much. I confess that several had me scratching my head for days. I simply couldn’t figure out why they were included or what purpose they served to the overall story. Except perhaps this: people are complicated and we are all struggling with the reality of being flawed humans in a flawed world.

Highly recommended, this would make an excellent choice for book clubs. I’m glad I had Marialyce as my book buddy to discuss this with as we read. This was going to be a solid 4 stars for the reasons I mentioned above, but days later I am still thinking about this book, so for that, it got bumped up to 5 stars.

• I received a digital copy of the book via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
• For this and other reviews please visit https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...
Profile Image for Debra .
2,198 reviews34.9k followers
September 23, 2019
Olive, Olive, Olive...what can I say, she is quite the character (as are most of the characters in this book.)

I think it is essential to read the first book in this series ( Olive Kitteridge )to fully appreciate this book. As with the first book, this book is told through not only Olive's story but various people who live in Crosby, Maine and have some form of interaction with Olive.

Olive is perceived by those in her community as being odd. She's a tough old broad who speaks her mind, can often be blunt and brutally honest. But she also has a heart of gold and as she reaches her seventies and eighties becomes more self-aware and must come to terms with the harsh realities that come with aging. It's lonely, it's devastating, frustrating and something she faces in her own very Olive way. Plus, looking back, she examines her life, her choices and her relationships.

"You all know who you are. If you just look at yourself and listen to yourself, you know exactly who you are. And don't forget it."

In this book several things are addressed in addition to aging, alcoholism, infidelity, the divide that happens between people as communication breaks down, loneliness, and isolation. Stout continues to write characters with real issues with tremendous skill and insight. Her writing is beautiful and insightful. Olive has her struggles in this book, make no mistake, this is not a happy-go-lucky book. This has a feeling of sadness throughout, but there is also hope as Olive continues to grow and gain some insight.

"Maybe you fall in love with people who save your life'; even when you think it's not worth saving."

Beautifully written look at Olive in the later stages of her life.

Thank you to Random House Publishing and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

***Traveling Sisters group read
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,122 followers
July 1, 2019
"Olive thinks everything is crap."......or does she.

Elizabeth Strout is back and so is the memorable curmudgeon Olive Kitteridge. Somewhat older now and heavier, but she's still formidable with her forthright personality and smart-mouth tell it like it is comments that seem to explode out of her.

Everyone in Crosby, Maine whether visitor or resident seem to have a truckload of major problems in their life, and they all seem to know or are connected to Olive in one way or another.

The format of this novel is similar to book one as we are introduced to a variety of characters, both old and new....and their outlandish, often complex stories.

Olive is still a hoot, honest to a fault, but a person with a good heart and worries of her own as she admits to and laments a multitude of mistakes in her life.

OLIVE, AGAIN will break your heart and make you smile with its honest emotion.

(So agree with her assessment of petunia's and not wanting to cross over that bridge!)

***Arc provided by Random House Publishing Group - Random House via NetGalley in exchange for review***

Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,028 reviews661 followers
June 28, 2019
Copy furnished by Net Galley for the price of a review.

Olive Kitteridge is a difficult woman, formidable and even harsh at times.  One who says what she thinks and lets the chips fall where they may.  It would be fair to say she is not universally liked, referred to by some as "that old bag".  The indignities of aging are front and center.  In her 80's now, Olive reflects on the effect of bad memories that follow you through life, profound loneliness, becoming invisible.  These interwoven stories carry with them an intimacy, a kind of melancholy beauty tinged with regret.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,161 reviews2,010 followers
December 17, 2019
I opened this book, read the first page, and immediately felt that wave of comfort that comes from being in the hands of a really skilled and talented writer. Must admit too that I loved Olive Kitteridge and I was delighted to be back with Olive again.

Like the first book, Olive, Again is a series of loosely linked short stories, set in and around Olive's home town and Olive herself. Happily lots of pages are allocated to Olive's own story as she navigates a second marriage, her unfortunate relationship with her son, bad health and eventually needing to move into a care home.

There are lots of sad and lots of bad events throughout the book, but there are also many reflective and happy moments. Underneath her brusque exterior Olive has a compassionate heart and she constantly reaches out to people in difficulties. I was pleased that her second marriage to Jack was happy and that both of them gained by sharing those years with another.

For me this was a treasure of a book and definitely a keeper, so I can read it again in the future.
Profile Image for Tammy.
506 reviews422 followers
July 9, 2019
Crotchety, stubborn, judgmental and ultimately empathetic to others…Olive, I have missed you. Just like Olive, herself, these interlinked stories are surprising, unsettling, humorous, and very human. The struggles with loss, loneliness, remorse, and sorrow are matters which none of us may escape. Welcome back, Olive.
Profile Image for Christine .
584 reviews1,105 followers
July 12, 2020
5 stars (more if I had them)!

This is my “Best Book of 2020” so far, and that’s saying a lot as I have been very choosy about my books this year. I liked it even better than its award-winning predecessor, Olive Kitteridge, which was a very-easy-to-rate 5 stars winner for me.

Olive, Olive, Olive. I’m going to miss you so much, Olive. When I first started reading about Olive in Olive Kitteridge, I didn’t like her so much, but after getting to know her, I began to like her a lot. In fact, I ended up loving Olive. What a personality. This 2nd Olive book takes us through her life spanning her 70s through mid 80s years. It’s amazing to see how a person can continue to evolve and learn things about oneself during the elder years. Gives me hope.

This book is a primer on life—it is full of life lessons. There is so much wisdom to be gleaned if you pay close attention. The chapters are made up of interconnecting stories about Olive and about the townspeople of the fictional small town of Crosby, Maine (with a few New Yorkers thrown in for good measure). There is a connection to Olive in each story. Some chapters are totally devoted to Olive and her thoughts and encounters; her “airtime” in the other chapters varies from a cameo appearance to a major role. There is an abundance of introspection in this book. And the “action” is mostly quiet. If this does not appeal to you, then best move on. The stories were so compelling to me, however, that there were many instances where I had to sit back and think about what I had just read and how it all related to my own life.

The characters in this novel are mostly struggling to some degree, like much of humanity it seems. Olive takes all of this in and does her best to try to understand and empathize with those she encounters. Sometimes she loses her patience quickly or feels she is being unfairly disrespected and will move on. But when she connects with someone in pain, she proves to be a very good companion with whom to discuss life’s obstacles. I wish I had an Olive in my life. Though she can’t fix people’s challenges, her caring matters—even with a simple “Ay-yuh” or “Godfrey!” And no platitudes, which is a breath of fresh air. Despite all this, Olive does not understand herself very well. It’s mesmerizing to watch her try to understand how she herself has been responsible for much of her own angst. It’s painful, but she allows the thoughts to come. She starts to gain some insight, but it’s a very slow process for her.

Each chapter ends with poignancy. Whether there was closure or open-endedness, I had goosebumps multiple times. It’s nice to get those all throughout a book and not just at the very end. I must say at the end of the last chapter I was in tears. Oh Olive! I just wanted to give my iPad a great big hug.

Oh, and as an added bonus for Elizabeth Strout fans, there is a nice return of one of her very earliest characters from a previous book that Olive befriends near the end of the Olive, Again. Always a nice touch.

If you even have an inkling you would like this book, jump in and read it! It’s best however to read the first book, Olive Kitteridge, first to get a good idea of Olive’s personality—it will make reading Olive, Again a much richer experience. And it’s not so tough to do; after all, Olive Kitteridge did win the Pulitzer Prize.

Thanks, Ms. Strout. I’ll be reading many more of your novels.
Profile Image for Andy Marr.
Author 2 books675 followers
March 11, 2023
Hell's bells, this was some book. Ah-yuh. Some book...
Profile Image for Peter Boyle.
480 reviews585 followers
September 14, 2019
Elizabeth Strout has done it again. In this sequel to the Pulitzer Prize winning Olive Kitteridge, her extraordinary powers of insight and empathy are once more on full display. Strout writes about the everyday concerns of ordinary people, and she does it better than any other author I've read.

Lots of folk in Crosby, Maine don't care much for Olive Kitteridge. To many, she was their grumpy, abrupt math teacher, and when they spot her in the supermarket, they duck behind a different aisle. However, there are a few souls who can look past that gruff exterior to see the kind heart underneath. These days, Olive is coming to terms with loss and old age. But there are reasons to be cheerful - her relationship with her son appears to be thawing, and she has found new love in an unexpected place. The world might irritate Olive more than most, but she's doing her best to become "oh, just a tiny—tiny—bit better as a person."

The stories in the book are linked, much like its predecessor. They are all wonderful vignettes in their own way but a few of them stood out in my mind. Friend tells of Olive adjusting to assisted living and making a new pal in the process. A woman from a troubled family finds a kind shoulder to cry on in Helped. And in Light, Olive bumps into a former student who is fighting cancer, and comforts her in her own unique way.

The characters tackle problems that all of us will have to handle some day - heartache, loneliness, ageing. For Olive, old age is not without its benefits - there is something liberating about it:
"...you go through life and you think you're something. Not in a good way, and not in a bad way. But you think you are something. And then you see"—and Olive shrugged in the direction of the girl who had served the coffee—"that you no longer are anything. To a waitress with a huge hind end, you've become invisible. And it's freeing."
Bob Burgess is sad because he doesn't see his brother Jim enough - his wife can't stand to spend time in Maine and there are times when he wonders why Jim married her at all. But then he has a revelation that makes this easier to bear:
"It came to him then that it should never be taken lightly, the essential loneliness of people, that the choices they made to keep themselves from that gaping darkness were choices that required respect: This was true for Jim and Helen, and for Margaret and himself as well."
And Olive comes to terms with her mortality in a beautiful, wistful way:
"It was almost over after all, her life. It swelled behind her like a sardine fishing net, all sorts of useless seaweed and broken bits of shells and the tiny, shining fish—all those hundreds of students she had taught, the girls and boys in high school she had passed in the corridor when she was a high school girl herself (many—most—would be dead by now), the billion streaks of emotion she'd had as she looked at sunrises, sunsets, the different hands of waitresses who had place before her cups of coffee— All of it gone, or about to go."

I've said this before about Elizabeth Strout's writing and I'll say it again - there is something incredibly authentic and real about it. Her characters are so alive, their vulnerabilities and flaws render them so believable. It was an absolute pleasure to return to the town of Crosby and spend some more time in Olive's company. I was sad to say goodbye but I will treasure the experience.
October 23, 2019
Olive again is who she is and still not afraid to say it like it is, however she mellower, a little less difficult and ornery here in this story. I cried less in this one and loved her even more as we can see her grow and come to terms with ageing and her truths.

Elizabeth Strout doesn't miss a beat here and picks up after Olive Kitteridge and she explores loneliness through ageing and regrets. She takes that hope of doing better from Olive I felt in the first book and we see Olive reflecting on her life and coming to terms with her relationships.

Elizabeth Strout explores ageing with compassion and humor. I loved seeing Olive's frustration and insecurities about ageing yet not taking it so seriously but gracefully. I hope to do the same.

Olive in both books represents our worst fears for ourselves and gave me hope we can come to terms with our vulnerability as we age and grow as a person. Even though Olive can be infuriating in both books, her acceptance, reflections of her truth, along with her willingness to see them and do better is admirable. It's refreshing to see in a world where we put our truths on others instead of accepting them as our own.

I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :) .
977 reviews2,662 followers
October 19, 2019
I know that I am the outlier on my feelings for this book but let me explain that 3 stars from me means that it was a good book but not a great book FOR ME.

Olive Kitteridge was also a 3 star for me, I found that I just didn’t like this character even though many seem to love her. I watched the HBO series to reacquaint myself with her and how the first book ended. I loved the series by the way, and it ended on such a hopeful note.

As in the first book this is written in a series of short stories, most of which Olive plays a part in or there is a thread connecting her to the story. My favorite story was the one where Olive is at a baby shower, a pretty conventional, dull affair and one of the guests is in labor. I will leave you to discover what happens and how Olive handles this. This was the only story that made me laugh and feel that maybe there was a softer side, somewhere, to Oliver.

This book starts when her second husband has already died, although there are quite a few flashbacks to some happy times when she and her husband lived together and did some traveling. As a character I really enjoyed Jack. He had a lot of empathy, he knew that he had made mistakes in his life, particularly with not accepting his daughter’s lifestyle, but he wanted to make it right. He also had a great sense of humor, something completely lacking in Olive’s character.

Olive never seemed to be able to figure herself out. She was extremely upset when a former student, Andrea L’Rieux, once the Poet Laureate of the United States writes a poem about her. She had met Andrea months before at the local coffee shop and had had a conversation with her, it all ended up in the poem. I thought that it summed Olive up pretty well:
“Who taught me math thirty-four years ago/ terrified me and is now terrified herself/ sat before me at the breakfast counter / white whiskered / told me I had always been lonely / no idea she was speaking of herself” “Use it for a poem, she said / All yours.”

I thought that the poem explained a lot about Olive, because she was always a person alone, even when she was with Henry and then Jack. She never seemed to truly let people in, to see how she felt inside, her insecurities, her prejudices, she didn’t seem to be able to fully love even the people that she cared about.

What I disliked about the book is that I felt as though I knew where Olive was heading and it wasn’t a pleasant forward look. I questioned at times whether I wanted to continue her story since it was quite dismal.

If you loved the first book than you will likely love this one. It is definitely not a happy book and it left me feeling rather depressed, not what I like to feel at the end of a book.

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley

Profile Image for Marialyce (absltmom, yaya).
1,938 reviews722 followers
September 22, 2019
This book is going to go into a new file I am calling, "I wish I had liked it more." While it certainly had its many pluses as the irascible Olive was back in rare form, it also had a number of puzzling occurrences and a chapter that had me scratching my head wondering why.

Olive is getting older or as we who are in the same boat like to say, becoming more mature. She still goes about, saying "Oliveisms" and ticking off a few people, including family, but she has developed a new inner perspective. It's like Olive looked into a mirror that was able to see inside herself and she wasn't all that thrilled with the reflection. She has a new love in her life, Jack, who recognizes her for the snob she is, but still loves her. Her relationship with her son is always on the fritz as they all walk a very tight line between I can tolerate you and I can't stay in your company another minute.

But as mentioned, Olive is maturing, and starts down a road that she should have traveled a long time ago, but hey, better late than never. Perhaps it is never too late to salvage relationships.

All in all, this was a good story, although even after a number of days thinking about it I am still a bit perplexed. However, as Olive discovers, and we do as well, there are always gray areas and Olive and her author have explored the grayness and we are left to puzzle out the rest.

4 stars for me and yes, I was a tad disappointed, but I am working on my gray areas.
Thank you to Elizabeth Strout, Random House, and NetGalley for a copy of this book due to be published on October 15,2019

So Olive is back but will she have the same wow factor that Ms Strout created for us in her first Olive book? That was the question both Jan and I had to find the answer to. Although we saw different things in the story, we nevertheless enjoyed out time spent with Olive once again.
To see our reviews, you can go here: http://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpress...
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
475 reviews1,309 followers
September 15, 2020
Oh one of my favourite characters is back! In all her glory. If you loved the first Olive, you will adore this one as much if not more.
She’s refreshingly honest and tells it like it is- no Sugar coating this lady’s language. Some might think a little crusty but she’s earned it.

She flits in and out of peoples lives in the community and has a lasting effect on them as she has had on me.
A long life filled with personal growth.
Strout, this character is so real. You’ve pulled it off again! 5⭐️

Profile Image for Susanne.
1,157 reviews36.5k followers
June 22, 2020
Oh Olive. You do beat all.

Cantankerous, quirky, difficult, Olive. Somehow you have managed to win me over.

Perhaps that is because I watched the HBO Mini-Series “Olive Kitteridge” with the estimable Frances McDormand and I saw a new side to Olive. I do, after all, adore Frances McDormand! Or perhaps it is because, in “Olive, Again,” Olive Kitteridge has grown as a person. Throughout the trials and tribulations of her life, she has become more aware of herself and the impact she has on others.

At times, Olive is still wholly unlikable, and yet she can also be kinder and softer. There are times where, instead of being completely self-centered, she puts others first, listens to their troubles and does whatever she can to help.

Olive is a fascinating character, one who I grew to appreciate and dare I say, like, after having at first disliked her immensely in “Olive Kitteridge.” That my friends is one heck of a feat and is to the author, Elizabeth Strout’s credit. To say that I was sad when this book ended is an understatement. I loved it so much more than the first novel and am so glad that I decided to read both novels.

All of the vignettes in both of these books fascinated me. I adored some of the characters and how their stories intertwined with Olive’s in one way or another. So many of the characters spoke to me. One vignette in “Olive, Again” revolved around “The Burgess Boys” - which is a name I recognized as being a novel written by the same author. The vignette spoke to me. Immediately I knew their story was one I needed to get my hands on and I did exactly that.

Elizabeth Strout is a very talented author and I highly recommend her novels to those who love character driven literary fiction.

Thank you so very much to my local library for loaning me a copy of the audiobook.

Published on Goodreads on 6.21.20.
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