SueLucie's Reviews > Olive, Again

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
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it was amazing
bookshelves: netgalley

How to describe this sequel to ‘Olive Kitteridge’? If you’ve read and loved the first book, you’ll love this one too. If you haven’t, this second book would stand alone but you’ll miss out on the pleasure of catching up with established characters - Elizabeth Strout gives a little of their back stories here (thankfully not overly much). It also features characters from her other novels - the Burgess boys, Amy and Isabelle - all considerably older now. I would say that the two Olive books are similar, certainly in structure - a series of short stories really, in some of which Olive is centre stage and in others she is a peripheral player, just as before.

The tone is darker, though. Olive is in her 70s now, friends and family are falling away, she is conscious of her own decline and she can’t help wondering what she has been doing with her life, regretting much but remaining hopeful of learning to do better, to understand herself and others better. She is hard on herself but in my opinion and to quote Jerry Skyler, she’s doin’ excellent. She is not as active as she once was, but that doesn’t prevent her having a profound effect on many of those around her, in her forthright, ‘Olive’ manner. I found the stories poignant in all different ways - people facing challenges, struggling with poverty, abuse and, most of all, loneliness.

The writing is sublime, as ever. One passage that struck me particularly:

The truth is that Olive did not understand why age had brought with it a kind of hard-heartedness toward her husband. But it was something she had seemed unable to help, as though the stone wall that had rambled along between them during the course of their long marriage - a stone wall that separated them but also provided unexpected dips of moss-covered warm spots where sunshine would flicker between them in a sudden laugh of understanding - had become tall and unyielding, and not providing flowers in its crannies but some ice storm frozen along it instead. In other words, something had come between them that seemed insurmountable.

Elizabeth Strout writes the most gorgeous, densely populated stories and can convey so much in often tiny gestures or brief exchanges. I became completely immersed in the little town of Crosby, Maine and its people. I could read any amount of them and still want more.

With thanks to Penguin, Viking via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC.
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Reading Progress

December 21, 2018 – Shelved
December 21, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
June 21, 2019 – Started Reading
June 21, 2019 – Shelved as: netgalley
June 23, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara I love this writer and you have done her justice. I just reserved it at the library though they don't have it yet.


message 2: by Lynn (new) - added it

Lynn We have to wait until October for this, oh woe.


Peter Superb review Sue and I can't wait to get reading it. Thanks. :):)


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