Cathy Kleinbart

I read this a few years ago and it has haunted me ever since. I'm wondering if anyone else felt that way. I recently found out that a movie or mini series is in the works. As much as I believe the novel was beautifully written, I won't be watching because I just found it so very sad and maybe "too" relaistic. Anyone else feel that way?

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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 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.
Tracey Ayres I saw the mini-series first and found it done so excellently that I could think of none other than Frances McDormand as I subsequently read the book. She was perfect and the mini-series was exquisite.

The book haunted me with its stellar writing (and yes, I too, unfortunately, recognized parts of myself in the title character). I cannot wait to read something else from this author.
Lawrence Hi. You probably watched the mini-series by now! I read The book several years ago. I loved it. I watched the mini-series a couple of months ago. I loved it. I went back and read the book again. I loved it.

So, what is going on here? Well, I think I am a different reader now than I was several years ago. First time round, I thought OK was a person I could really care about. I saw her sympathetic side; the power of her uniqueness. When I saw the movie, I saw a nastier side of her portrayed: The person who could alienate and could be abrupt and mean. So, I had to read the book again because I wondered "Did I miss all this?" What I found was an almost perfect book about what OK is like -- mean, loving, clueless, scared, sad, hopeful, victim, victimizer, etc., and all on the "small" scale of daily life. Something really like Chekhov stories are for me.

So, the movie made me want to read the book again. It was a great foil for my reading mind. I think movies can do this sometimes. For example, I read Mitchell's Cloud Atlas; then I saw the feature-length movie some years later; and now I gotta read the book again!
Mum Coincidentally I just finished the book, forgetting that there was to be a mini-series (I had heard about it months ago).

I agree with how much I related to this book and the themes of loss and living. Maybe because I am about to be 52 and have an empty home that we are selling to downsize and am feeling so much of what Ms. Strout so beautifully related in this book made it sad, but in the end a little hopeful for me.

I will be watching, I love Frances McDormand.
Badger I just finished it too, the audiobook version. I thought it was very good, very insightful. But I found it very depressing. Maybe it's just the space I'm in right now. I had heard of the HBO series too and I really like Francis McDormand so I was planning on finding a way to watch it. But now that I've finished the book, I'm not that interested in it.
Deiznyl Loved the HBO miniseries.... more than I enjoyed the book.
Judith I have similar thoughts to each of you. With every chapter I read, I wonder......why am I still reading this book??? from the comments I see that I may find some redeeming ideas when I finish. At this moment I am pleased with Henry.....but at times I think he is naive. stout has painted a brilliant picture of Olive....I can actually see her. Henry, not so much...just a kind aging old man wishing for a different life.
No doubt Ms. Strout is a talented story teller....but I really don't get the Pullitzer prize!
Megan I agree. I was depressed and sad while reading this but found it such a realistic book and beautifully written. I think Olive will stay with me for some time. I, too, recognized myself in Olive. I'm not sure if I can watch the series.
Sherri F. Cathy, now that I'm almost 75% of the way through the audio version, I am feeling the same way as you. In the beginning, I enjoyed it more esp. Henry's character and saw as insightful, relative and was looking for a more happy ending. I'm also not a big fan of the collection of mini stories style, but it's tolerable (and it did help for a couple of co-listeners to jump in during one mini story or 2). But now it's becoming too sad, depressing and realistic w/so little positive, except that maybe my life seems to smell like a rose in comparison--and that's saying a lot considering I'm struggling w/so many things lately, esp. health-wise; but that's even more reason for me to look for positive things and silver linings...and this book isn't it.
Sarah Jan I just finished watching the mini-series this past weekend. I had recorded it and was interested to watch because I think Frances McDormand is an excellent actress and she does a wonderful job of playing a not likeable person. I never warmed to her and the review I read in some magazine warned that the viewer would not like her but would want to understand her. The review said that the mini-series was the best treatment of depression that the writer had seen. I felt complelled to watch the mini-series even though I was appalled by Olive's character and her personality. I found it extremely odd that she showered such love and attention on her husband after his massive stroke when she could show no love whatsoever while he was whole.I had not read the book, not sure why, so my entire experience was of the movie which imo was very well done. It has stayed with me. There were several depictions of how depression presents itself in various ways. Olive seemed to be able to appreciate and love beauty in nature - her garden was beautiful and yet she was so ugly to people! I think I have a difficult time understanding why so much talent and money would be invested in portraying this unlikable woman.
Jeanne The HBO 4-part TV mini-series starts tomorrow, Sunday, Nov 2 at 9 pm EST. The previews look really good! Since I thought the book ending turned out well, especially for Olive, I'll look forward to seeing what is done in the film. So, I will be watching~
Gabriel Malard Frances McDormand bears no resemblance to the character Olive as described by Elizabeth Strout. But that is not at all the problem you'd really find in the series. Well... but the subtle humane and deep psychological insights the author manages to convey, that put me off a bit. I felt that the series lacked the depth and the sadness, the reality and the pain of the characters. Not only that. The book somehow makes us connect deeply to ordinary characters and situations, that (in many levels) are related to our life (love, desire, fear, aging, death, belonging, joy and depression). hard to describe the effect the book has, and how the series fall short.
Lynn Yes...I found the book extremely sad and haunting yet I couldn't put it down.
Jo Anne Our book club just finished reading Olivia. We are women in our 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's. Our discussion of this well written interesting character, seen from the eyes of people around her, was fantastic. I was not looking forward to reading this book as pulitzer prize winners are generally not my cup of tea. However, I think it is the best Ppw I have read. The writing is smart and wonderfully descriptive in a concise way. I was sorry it took so long for Olivia to find herself. I decided to watch the mini-series as one of our members had a dvd copy. I thought the adaptation of the book to the series was horribly inaccurate and was sorry i watched. However, I appreciate Frances McDormand's acting.
Ellen I forgot I had written this, and of course when the series came out and I realized Olive would be played by Frances McDormand, I watched it with glee. It even made me go back and retread the book. Still haunting, and I think the HBO series was really well done.
Candace Escobar
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Carolyn I can relate to what you have stated. I think, for anyone who has family members who suffer from true depression, it is almost like reopening a healing wound over and over again. I had forgotten about reading this book until the HBO miniseries was advertised. It is a sad book and it does give a very realistic view of the burden of loving someone with true clinical depression.
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Pamela Mansfield-loomis I haven't read the book yet but just watched the mini series because it sounded good, then I realized it was filmed in my town about a year and a half ago (her house, the town, all the coastal scenes). Just wanted to see what others were saying about the story because it left me so very depressed! I agree the ending was more hopeful, but what a bitter slice of life in each segment. Cuts too close to the bone for me. There is a message in the story to be happier and appreciate all you have - but in the end it all goes away. I thought the movie was beautifully done - I am afraid I will get in a real funk if I read the book though.
Judy Yes. I also found it realistic and yet haunting.
Amy Cathy, I don't know if you will ever see this response as it is 5 years from the date of your initial post: I just read this book and there was something painful, or upsetting, or frustrating that I could identify within every chapter. Each chapter had a piece of my life in one character or on specific scene. I adored this book!
Susie I just finished it and totally agree with you Cathy, it is so gloomy and the characters just pop in and out with no rhyme or reason. I HOPE it is not realistic, I certainly don't plan for my life to end that way!
Judy Lindow Yes. I just finished it and was haunted through each story and especially as they each wrapped up. They ARE a sad collection of stories, but realistic, and honest and so the beauty is not lost on me. I want to buy this book and reread in a year or two ... it is better than Lucy Barton, which I also enjoyed. I also requested the CDs of the TV version, HOWEVER, the reason I hesitate is that the writing is so lovely - I enjoy it so much and although I usually compare the written and the movie - for some reason I don't want the imagery or my experience to be revoked in any way. Strange.
Kathy I loved the book- and LOVED Frances McDormand in this!!
Mark Sunflower I resonated with is an exercise in really getting in touch with the deeper pains in ourselves. I also identified with her, and I have come to really respect and appreciate her....The miniseries is awesome and left me with a lingering sense of introspective peace.
Carrie Same. I liked the book. I also related to Olive in many different ways, and was haunted by this book. I've finally broke down and started watching the HBO series which I LOVE! I think I loved Olive even more thru Francis McDormand who IS the perfect Olive. She really made that character come alive for me, and with Tom Hanks as an exc producer ,how could you go wrong?? Plus, I have strong ties to Maine, and it made me homesick for the sea and the Mainers.
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by Elizabeth Strout (Goodreads Author)
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