Irena's Reviews > Olive, Again

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
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it was ok

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.

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Reading Progress

October 28, 2019 – Started Reading
October 30, 2019 – Shelved
October 30, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)

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message 1: by Jeanette (new) - added it

Jeanette I'll look for it. Some of her stuff I like, but others are just meh! Not being a great fan of the #1 Olive, I'm going to wait and see yours and a few others reviews.

Irena @Jeanette Thank you for commenting. I have never read anything by this author before, so I can't compare it to her other work. However, I feel like I'm in minority when it comes to this one, as early reviews are all positive.
I will write my review before the end of this week.

message 3: by Jeanette (new) - added it

Jeanette I will look for it. My Name is Lucy Barton was ok. But her others, especially Burgess Boys. UGH! Olive is a character but I don't tend to like how mean spirited her "nice" people are. LOL!

Irena @ Jeanette Oh, I couldn't click with Olive at all. She was so unlikable to me, so that also played it's part when it comes to my reading experience. And I can't say that there was one character I connected with so...

message 5: by Michael (last edited Nov 05, 2019 11:11AM) (new)

Michael Canoeist I wouldn't touch this book with a 20-yard pole. I read Olive Kitteridge. Enuf said. So maybe you couldn't relate to old Olive, Irena, but I know for sure that your second reason for not enjoying the book would be correct -- she is so unpleasant in so many ways, who needs it?

Irena @Michael, thank you for your comment and for agreeing with me. Now I feel less alone in this reviewer's world since everyone around me seems to like it.

message 7: by Armando (new)

Armando You should have read the first and... not only that... indeed there is a chapter that is also a sequel of another book of Strout "the Burgess Boys"; you know the "Jim, Susan, Bob, Margaret, Helen" chapter? well, those are the Burgess Boys and it bothers me that it would completely spoils that book for those that have yet to read it. Strout does that often, also in the Lucy Barton saga. I read "anything is possible" and it was clearly set after "My name is Lucy Barton".

message 8: by Michael (new)

Michael Canoeist Armando, that is a very interesting observation! Olive Strout strikes again! I'm tempted to read the offending stories and book just out of amazement, but I think I will trust your information instead and save myself the time and aggravation.

message 9: by Armando (new)

Armando Michael wrote: "Armando, that is a very interesting observation! Olive Strout strikes again! I'm tempted to read the offending stories and book just out of amazement, but I think I will trust your information inst..."

don't get me wrong. I like Strout's work, Olive Kitteridge saga included (especially, indeed). And I don't mind the auto-referentiality of writers that quote themselves and throws mentions to their previous work here and there. But in this case, it just completely spoils a previous book of her (worth reading, by the way) where a surprising turn of events happens in the end. I see Strout assuming readers had read "Olive Kitteridge" before this one, after all, it's in the title "Olive, again"

message 10: by Armando (new)

Armando Irena wrote: "@ Jeanette Oh, I couldn't click with Olive at all. She was so unlikable to me, so that also played it's part when it comes to my reading experience. And I can't say that there was one character I c..."

the point is that Olive is not supposed to be likable; indeed, several of the characters in Strout's stories are not. After all, that's what many in Crosby, Maine think of her, included her own son (at least, partially). But she is very much human, in the good and in the bad. I think Strout portrayal of the complexity of the human being in her stories is convincing, at least in the case of Olive, which is largely the main characters. But obviously, if you have to find likable the main characters, this is not the book for you.

message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael Canoeist Armando, you were doing so well before! LOL.

message 12: by Irena (last edited Nov 13, 2019 04:31AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Irena @Michael , thank you for all your comments.

@Armando , thank you for your insightful comments, I am sure other readers will find them helpful.
And you are right, just like I stated in my review, this was not book for me.
I agree that Olive is realistic character. In my real life I tend to avoid people like her, so I don't have a need to read about them in my novels.
Thank you for convincing me not to pick up another book by this author ever again.

Sachi Sabella I totally agree!!!!!

Irena Sachi Sabella wrote: "I totally agree!!!!!"

Thank you.

message 15: by Dita (new)

Dita Uh oh...

message 16: by Amanda (new)

Amanda ChocolatePages A very good, honest and objective review Irena. Not all books are for everybody , so objective reviews like this are good for other readers to see if they would or wouldn't like to read it. Thank you for Sharing your thoughts with us. Amanda

message 17: by Constantine (new)

Constantine Great review, Irena. Sorry this did not live up to your expectations

Irena @Amanda Thank you so much for this comment!

@Constantine Thank you! I guess we can't love all the books we read, right?

message 19: by Ann-Marie (new) - added it

Ann-Marie I have known so many people like Olive, people who just do not know how to relate to other human beings no matter how hard they try. They reach a certain point in their lives and they just quit trying. "It's not me. It's everyone else." They aren't fun to read about. They are harder to have in your real life. I guess I can kind of chuckle at Olive, because she's not my problem.

Desiree I don't you have to be the same age as a main character in order to understand a book. I'm 28 and loved reading this book. Olive isn't supposed to be a likable character. She's obviously someone who has suffered from a mental illness her entire life without realizing that she has a toxic personality. I'm guessing she is either Borderline or a narcissist. That's the beauty of it. She's a main character who often a villain to other characters in her story, but doesn't realize it, yet is human and is neither fully good or bad, but has a combination of both.

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