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July/August 2008 > Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

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message 1: by Jenn (new)

Jenn I started this topic to see it anyone has read Olive Kitteridge. It won the Pulitzer and a friend gave me a copy. I plan on taking it with me on a business trip at the end of the month and was curious if anyone had any thoughts. There are very few Pulitzer winners that I have enjoyed, but this one seems to be beckoning me.

message 2: by Quiltgranny (new)

Quiltgranny I read this while on vacation a while back before I knew it had won a prize. I normally don't care for short story collections, but this one is somewhat different. The main character, Olive, is woven throughout all of them, and like in true life, takes on different roles dependent upon the other people she is with. I quite liked the book which surprised me - and I still think about some of the issues that are dealt with in the stories. I hope you enjoy it too.

message 3: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Thanks Quiltgranny, it definitely sounds like something I will enjoy. I hear it also takes place in Maine, which is one of my favorite places. Combine that with great writing and I'm sold!

message 4: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie This is on my reading list.

message 5: by Molly (new)

Molly Hart | 3 comments I loved Olive Kitteridge. I don't ususally connect with Pulitzer winners (I guess I am not high-brow enough). I usually really like National Book Award winners. In fact, Olive Kitteridge reminded me of Plainsong by K. Haruf. They have the same tone or melody. I could pick it up and put it down easily. I liked the linked short story concept. I think it was not light reading, but not dense either.

message 6: by Barb (new)

Barb | 75 comments I liked Olive Kitteridge,especially seeing Olive from each person's different viewpoint. I actually liked her first book better, Amy and Isabelle, but this was good.

message 7: by Jenn (new)

Jenn I agree with you, Molly, about Pulitzer winners. For some reason I rarely think they are deserving. I like the Nat'l Book Awards and the Man Booker Prize winners. So far the praise has been nonstop for Olive, so I'm excited!

message 8: by Cherylann (new)

Cherylann | 55 comments I, too, like the National Book Award and Man Booker winners. I usually think of journalism when I hear Pulitizer, so I stay away. I liked Olive Kitteridge a lot. The use of the short story really helped develop the many facets of Olive. When I began the book, I really reviled her, but by the end I felt I had an understanding of Olive. I thought the use of short story made her more of a real person than other literary characters I've read lately.

Barb, based on your post, I think I'm going to check out Amy & Isabelle. (Oh no, not another book on my tbr list )

message 9: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lbhick) | 986 comments I've debated on reading Olive Kitteridge for a while now, because like the rest of you I'm hesitant about reading Pulitzer's. I think I'll give this one a try and also Amy & Isabelle.

message 10: by Kelly (new)

Kelly My book club is reading Olive Kitteridge next month and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm sorry for going off topic here, but I just felt I should say something about the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
It's a very different award from the National Book Award and the Man Booker - both excellent prizes. But the Pulitzer is generally given to an author who has something to say about America - be it American life, culture, what it means to be American, etc.
It's been around much longer than the other two awards, but all of them change judges each year, I believe, and all are subject to a certain cultural climate in which they are chosen.
I've definitely read a few smelly Pulitzers, but if you haven't liked the recent winners, you should definitely look back at some of the amazing books selected for this prize like Gone with the Wind, The Grapes of Wrath and To Kill a Mockingbird. If you can manage to find it, Now in November by Josephine Winslow Johnson is a completely forgotten, and sadly out-of-print, masterpiece. It won the Pulitzer in 1935.
Glad to hear that others have liked Olive Kitteridge so much!

message 11: by Jenn (new)

Jenn I finished this last night. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I didn't really care for Olive, I found the other characters' stories more engaging.

message 12: by Stephanie (last edited Jul 28, 2009 04:04PM) (new)

Stephanie Kelly wrote: "My book club is reading Olive Kitteridge next month and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm sorry for going off topic here, but I just felt I should say something about the Pulitzer Prize for Fic..."

Thank you for your great posting. I am one who tends to shy away from Pulitzers because I have read so many that didn't engage me on any level, but you are absolutely correct - there are some gems on the list. I am reading The Bridge of San Luis Rey right now for another book group. Jury is still out...I am only about 40 pages in.

BUT while I love The Grapes of Wrath, I will always LOVE East of Eden MORE. ;)

message 13: by Melinda (new)

Melinda If you can manage to find it, Now in November by Josephine Winslow Johnson is a completely forgotten, and sadly out-of-print, masterpiece.

No it's not! I bought a copy through Amazon. I agree with you - it was a great read. I especially felt emphathy for the character of Kerrin. It's amazing that the author was only 24 when she wrote it.

message 14: by Kate (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 137 comments I'll be interested to see what people think; Olive has been my favorite book of the year so far. What a character! I do like short stories (not that I have read that many) and really enjoyed a collection combined to define a character. LOVED IT!

message 15: by Cherylann (new)

Cherylann | 55 comments Olive is one of my favorite books this year, too. While I don't like all the facets of Olive, I loved the writing style. I felt like I had a much fuller picture of Olive the "person" because of the short stories. Had she written this as a traditional novel with a third person omniscent character, I wouldn't have understood Olive and probably would have hated her. Because of the short story aspect, I felt sympathy and compassion towards her.

message 16: by LynnB (new)

LynnB After reading Olive Kitteridge A Novel in Stories last spring and not really caring for it that much, I re-read it just last week because my local book group is reading it. This time I really did like it. Olive is for the most part not a very sympathetic character, but it was very interesting seeing her from so many other viewpoints. In the end, I felt very sad, though not depressed. I'd recommend the book.

message 17: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lbhick) | 986 comments I found Olive Kitteridge at Goodwill last week and did a little happy dance. Can't wait to read it!

message 18: by Kate (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 137 comments I think Henry loved Olive in that he was devoted to her. He connected to her emotionally even though she could not always respond in kind. Henry is simpler, too -- emotionally less demanding -- loving someone with much more depth despite an inability to experience that depth (either personally or within the relationship -- Olive kept him at arm's length, often)

message 19: by Kate (new)

Kate (kateksh) | 137 comments Thinking about this book, sometimes I wish I could experience reading a bppk for the first time -- AGAIN!

message 20: by Betsy (new)

Betsy (ebburtis) | 1266 comments Joycenclyde wrote: "Just finished "Olive" this evening and thought I'd see what others' thoughts were. I didn't want to be "finished" with her yet. I don't think it's necessary to like Olive but to begin to see/recogn..."

I just finished tonight for my F2F book group and LOVED it! I love your point about the lonely damaged places in other people's hearts. One of my group members said Olive was like the private part of ourselves speaking and that you hope no one hears. I think that is so true. And every story was so beautifully written, and gut wrenching. There were single paragraphs I had to re-read several times because they were just so perfectly written. I am almost always a huge fan of a writer that makes me feel deeply and Elizabeth Strout and Olive certainly did that.

I was disappointed in the interview at the end of the paperback. It almost made Olive seem cartoonish and like a caricature of herself (which I realize is an odd thing to be upset about in a fictional character!).

message 21: by Cherylann (new)

Cherylann | 55 comments Betsy, I love that sentiment - Olive is like the private part of ourselves speaking that you hope no one hears. I think that's why so many people have had difficulty with this book - we don't want to see ourselves in Olive.

message 22: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lbhick) | 986 comments I finally got around to reading Olive and I loved it. I liked Strout's writing style and the vignettes of the various town folk of Crosby, Maine. Olive was the thread that tied all these stories together. The people of Crosby were endearing, warts and all. Although Olive was not the most lovable or even likable character, she was real, and I connected with her.

The novel reminds me of Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, but better crafted. I could've read more.

message 23: by LynnB (new)

LynnB Lisa wrote: "The novel reminds me of Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, but better crafted..."

I hadn't thought about it, but it is in many ways like Winesburg, Ohio! Thanks for bringing that up.

message 24: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie I JUST picked this one up from the library along with the author's novel Amy and Isabelle A Novel by Elizabeth Strout Amy and Isabelle: A Novel. I think I am going to read Amy and Isabelle first and then this one. PUMPED!

message 25: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie I really liked this series of stories about a town and its people that could have represented Anytown, U.S.A. I found myself wondering "When/How is Olive going to pop up in this section?" throughout the entire book. Many of the stories were heartbreaking and emotional, and it took me almost two weeks to read it because I could only read one or two at a time. Olive is an interesting character who proves to be an effective tool for meandering through the lives of others. The writing was superb, as in Amy and Isabelle, which I also highly recommend. Will now read anything Strout.

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