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

Olive Kitteridge

(Olive Kitteridge)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  129,119 ratings  ·  15,701 reviews
Olive Kitteridge: indomitable, compassionate and often unpredictable. A retired schoolteacher in a small coastal town in Maine, as she grows older she struggles to make sense of the changes in her life. She is a woman who sees into the hearts of those around her, their triumphs and tragedies.

We meet her stoic husband, bound to her in a marriage both broken and strong, and
Paperback, 313 pages
Published 2016 by Scribner (first published March 25th 2008)
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…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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  129,119 ratings  ·  15,701 reviews

More filters
Sort order
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Will Byrnes
Jun 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Jim Fonseca
May 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Nov 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
Olive Kitteridge, 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 Piano Player; A Little
How appropriate that Olive should be large: she is larger than life, human but more so. She's angrier, more unrepentant, and far less tolerant, of herself as much as of others, but at the same time she's also more feeling, more compassionate, more sensitive than the average member of the human race. She's raw, as if an insulating layer had been stripped away, leaving her to feel and see more than most. The magical thing is that you feel and see too, you develop a kind of preternatural sensit
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
Whenever I read a Pulitzer-prize-winning book (or nominee), I'm tempted to look for the chutzpah. For there is no way a book wins this honorable prize without doing something that has not been done before, or without taking something that has been done before and doing it better. This chutzpah is usually in the form, the style, or the story arc.

With this novel, it is the way in which short stories are interwoven using one subject: the idiosyncratic, Olive Kitteridge. Never mind that Olive is no
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 21-ce, fiction, us
Exquisite. A beautiful balance of images. All the senses deftly deployed in the description of action. At the same time, a nonlinear storyline, jumping about over a span perhaps of 25 years. Yet the book is a mousse of a confection, its execution so light, so assured. Moreover, it is a novel of stories. I can only remember this being done so well one other time in my broad reading experience, that was in Cynthia Ozick’s The Puttermesser Papers. (See my review.) Great mastery of pattern and theme ...more
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Olive Kitteridge
Elizabeth Strout

PUBLISHER Random House
PUBLISHED March 25, 2008

Olive Kitteridge is emotionally powerful, lyrical and hard to forget.

Olive, a retired school teacher in the coastal town of Crosby, Maine is the subject of a set of interlinked short stories. She is at times curmudgeonly, cold or abrupt and at other times vulnerable, hurting or just plain tired. She is human, and struggling to understanding herself and all the changes and challenges that life th
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This is the type of writing that makes my toes curl up. The writing is sheer brilliance. Every sentence is structured to perfection.
Capturing slices of life and intricately dissecting small town folk. It’s not the most cheeriest of books, with lots of the themes surrounding depression and suicide.

Olive was a hard character to warm up to but once I did, I really did. It shows that no matter where you live, people have the same issues, of loneliness, ageing, sickness, relationships and family tr
When I began this book, I was unsure how I was going to like it. The first story was interesting and I felt I had gotten to know Henry, but then it was over and the second story seemed to have little to do with the first. However, as the book progressed, I found myself loving the depth of the characters in the vignettes and the recurring characters of Olive and Henry that popped in and out, sometimes as full players and sometimes as sidebars.

Olive is one of those characters we hate to have anyth
Peter Boyle
It's hard to put into words how much I adored this incredible book. I think the biggest compliment I can pay is that though its characters are fictional, they felt absolutely real to me. These are ordinary people living ordinary lives, yet they they are so fascinating in their strengths and flaws, in their hopes and disappointments. It's difficult to read it and not recognise some aspect of your own life in its infinitely wise pages.

These thirteen linked tales are mostly set in the small town of
Seth T.
Aug 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
I'll begin with my finale, so those who don't want to take the time to read several paragraphs will get the gist of it upfront: Elizabeth Strout strikes me as being an Alice Munro cover band. And with that, my review.

Really, my problem in reviewing Strout's collection of short stories is that I didn't hate it or love it. I didn't even like it or dislike it. I'm not in any sense ambivalent toward it. Save for the fact that I'm baffled by its Pulitzer status (and the other fact that I wasted count
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
da AL
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Goodness thru & thru!!! I love short stories - & these are the best kind. Spare & deep, each character complicated & interesting. All the stories hook together, but they can stand alone as well. Much recommended. Found out about this book via an authors conference. In addition to being a great writer, Strout is a lovely person.
I cannot possibly say I like Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. but I have to admit that in the author’s ability to shake me up and rip me apart, she has definitely succeeded in getting her message/s across. An author can write well and still you do not necessarily like their books. Who enjoys going through torment? Authors that have the ability to create a strong emotional response in their readers, must be considered talented.

I am very glad I have continued the book to its end. Reading this
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This Pulitzer Prize winning book has mostly good but mixed reviews, and I can understand that It wouldn't appeal to everyone. Since next month I will be one more year ( alarmingly !!!) closer to 60 and have been married 34 years, I'm guessing I'm the perfect demographic for this book. Though titled Olive Kitterigde after the matronly, retired math teacher with a rather brusque side , quite a few of the 13 interrelated stories are about other folks who share the same hometown of Crosby, Maine wit ...more
Marilyn C.
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
4.5 Stars

I fell in love with Elizabeth Strout's writing last year when I read My Name is Lucy Barton. She has the ability to write on the essence of people's lives and can write on a deeper level of awareness into everyday life struggles. In the thirteen stories that make up Olive Kitteridge, Strout showed me once again her ability to connect all of us to each other. Even by the end of book, the grouchy, Olive Kitteridge had shown a side of herself all of us can relate to.

The only reason I did
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Store
  • The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford
  • The Underground Railroad
  • Early Autumn: A Story of a Lady
  • Honey in the Horn
  • Journey in the Dark
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette
  • Elbow Room
  • His Family
  • A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
  • Laughing Boy: A Navajo Love Story
  • Now in November
  • Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer
  • Advise and Consent (Advise and Consent, #1)
  • The Late George Apley
  • Guard of Honor
  • Years of Grace
  • The Able McLaughlins (The McLaughlins, #1)
See similar books…
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 (Olive Kitteridge, #2)
“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.” 143 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.” 91 likes
More quotes…