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Olive Kitteridge ☃ [PDF / Epub] ☂ Olive Kitteridge By Elizabeth Strout ✑ – Thomashillier.co.uk Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition – its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires

At times stern, at ot Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition – its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requiresAt times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life – sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty.

10 thoughts on “Olive Kitteridge

  1. Lesley Lesley says:

    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 i don't care! this book was borrring and lackluster; a snoozefest.

    there was such an initial appeal to these stories; set in coastal maine (how i looove it there) and an irrational, old miser of a lady to connect them all. i was sorely mistaken. this time, my soft spot for an old crank didn't beat, nor did it beat for anyone else around her. oh, and not only were these stories boring, but painfully depressing as well. how can anyone under the age of 50 read this w/o feeling dejected of their future?? if this book is representative of what truly happens with the ravages of age, maybe we're better off dying quickly and young. then again, i'd like to think that by a ripe, old, stinky age, i'd have lived a meaningful and sensational life, unlike olive kitteridge. so far, i feel i've already had. so there, take that elizabeth strout, just you try and break me...

  2. Scott Axsom Scott Axsom says:

    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 structure. I’m not a fan, by nature, of the novel-in-stories format. Sure, I loved A Visit from the Goon Squad but that was the exception proving the rule for me. To make matters worse here, the first chapter in Olive Kitteridge introduces us to the title character and she’s just not a very nice person, at least where her treatment of her husband is concerned.

    Strout’s use of the novel-in-stories form, however, is pitch-perfect for the fundamental story she tells. She introduces us to a title character who appears to be considerably less than worthy as the subject of an entire novel. Then, through the use of deeply honest and insightful chapters about nearly unrelated characters, she paints a picture of this character that is infinitely richer than I originally assumed. And here is the beauty of Strout’s use of this form; she lead me to discover that the assumptions I’d made about a complex human being (as each inherently is) were necessarily as narrow as the context of their formulation.

    Strout's character development is a subject worthy of a college course. Throughout Olive Kitteridge she introduces us to characters whose situations resonate and whose responses to those situations are as believable as they are often maddening. And through it all, Olive Kitteridge’s impact on those characters and their lives comes peeking through again and again until I begin to realize, 'Wow, this woman, for whom I didn’t care so much, has had a profoundly positive impact on her world'.

    And this, I think, brings us to the real genius behind Elizabeth Strout’s work in Olive Kitteridge. She has taken the novel-in-stories and used it to introduce us to the many diverse and far-flung characters upon whose disparate lives her title character has imparted some bit of change, some bit of love, or wisdom, or influence, and in doing so Strout has shown that we are infinitely complex creatures who, no matter how long or short our duration on this plane, will leave change in our wake.

    The character Olive Kitteridge was recognizable as much for her inherent nobility as for her glaring flaws and she reminded me of this: Though people are complicated, often less than noble, always imperfect creatures, each of us has profound significance in this world. And for that wonderful bit of enlightenment, I’ll never forget her. As did Winter Wheat , this book altered my view of humanity and, for that, I feel both oddly indebted (she is make-believe, after all) to Olive Kitteridge and deeply grateful for the work of Elizabeth Strout.

  3. Nancy Nancy says:

    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 very well developed, the town vividly described, and the emotions raw. Olive Kitteridge left me feeling very unsettled. I admire her quiet strength, her forthrightness, her realistic views of life, and the fact that she controls her emotions. I hate her brusqueness, her self-centeredness, and her difficulty with accepting changes. She was a complex character, definitely not your stereotypical cranky old lady. Each story is presented from different viewpoints and shows Olive’s many sides as she interacts with family, neighbors and friends, as she experiences age, loneliness, grief and love. The characters are realistically drawn with such an emotional depth that I found I could easily identify with them and even see similarities to people I know. Olive Kitteridge makes me hate those qualities in myself that are like hers and makes me look at others with more patience and a less judgmental eye.

  4. Will Byrnes Will Byrnes says:

    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, Sherwood Anderson’s joined tales of alienation in small-town America. Olive Kitteridge is the organizational core connecting the thirteen stories. She appears in each one, sometimes as a primary character, sometimes as a secondary and in others by one of the characters referring to her.

    Elizabeth Strout - from her fans FB site

    Loneliness was the predominant theme in the town of Crosby, Maine, loneliness or the fear of it. Most of the stories touch on relationships sagging, empty or gone, getting through emotional hard times and wondering if it is all worth the effort. There is a chilly New England sensibility here, characters that are unable to move past their stiff upper lips. Communication is guarded, often absent, but always made manifest in actions, if not words. Some succumb to their worst impulses, others find their way through to some sort of reconciliation with life’s travails. Yet hope pops up just as frequently, like crocuses in March.

    Frances McDormand as Olive – from a NY Times article on the actress

    Olive journeys through her trials, her marriage, her relationship with her son, her potential marital digression. She seems clueless as to her effect on others, and can be glaringly harsh, while displaying the capacity for kindness and understanding.

    The writing is brilliant, taut, dense, a torte, and thus, a joy. A short-story writer’s talent for telling large amounts in small spaces, repeated 13 times.

    Personally, I felt the tales had maybe a bit too much resonance. I recognized emotions, if not always specific situations, (and yeah, some specific situations too) that I have experienced, and saw through the eyes of a third party experiences that were likely to have been a part of the history of people in my life. Is it a good thing that a writer can make you squirm through such recognition?

    Olive grows as a character, gaining some self-awareness, softening some hard edges, finding some light in a dark place.

    November 2019 - I just re-read Olive in anticipation of reading the sequel. This book blew me away on the second reading too. Here's my review of Olive, Again.

    =============================EXTRA STUFF

    Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages

    The facebook link is to a fan site, not to Strout herself

    Here is the Official Site for the HBO production

    A nice profile of Strout on Wiki

    11/3/14 - I saw the 1st episode of the HBO series - (and later saw the rest) dazzling! Must see!

  5. Julie Julie says:

    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 like home, because I could be anywhere in this world, and, as long as I have a book or a pen in my hand, I am home.

    There are few living writers today that take me home in the way that Elizabeth Strout does, or in the way that Olive Kitteridge did. Or, I should clarify. . . so few living writers today who can take me home AND make me homesick for a place I've never found, at the same time. It's a rare accomplishment.

    In truth, the woman pisses me off.

    Who does she think she is, sitting there, staring at her blank screen, dreaming up 13 short stories that come together as a novel that brilliantly gives you enough glimpses of one woman, one Olive Kitteridge to give her the staying power to become iconic? (And go on to be immortalized by Frances McDormand in the 2014 miniseries that is not to be missed).

    Who does she think she is, dreaming up characters you either love or hate in this quirky town of Crosby, Maine, and making you think that you might want to live in that God-forsaken, bitter cold place?

    Who does she think she is, making you hate Olive, then seeing yourself so vividly in her, you must put the book down for a moment to stare at your fidgety fingers in discomfort?

    Poor Olive, she didn't like to be alone. Even more, she didn't like being with people.

    Poor Olive, realizing that deep down there is a thing inside [her] and sometimes it swells up like the head of a squid and shoots blackness through [her].

    Poor Olive, she would have sat on a patch of cement anywhere to have this—her son; a bright buoy bobbing in the bay of her own quiet terror.

    Poor Olive, How could anyone be afraid of her? She was the one who was afraid!

    I connected and related to Olive so deeply, I spoke out loud to her a few times, during this re-read. I wanted her to know that I understood, that I often felt the same way. I didn't want her to feel alone.

    This isn't a perfect novel. A couple of the stories (that have too little Olive in them) lag; but I wasn't looking for perfection, just the absence of pretension.

    No pretension here, people. Just the pure act of writing without judgement and a story that clearly emerged from the deepest, loneliest passages of Elizabeth Strout's gut.

    This is one of those stories that takes you home, to that imperfect place you call home here on earth, and, yes, you're going to get a little homesick once you get there, too.

  6. Michael Finocchiaro Michael Finocchiaro says:

    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 disappointing to leave most of the stories in suspension (if not all of them) and I felt that the Christopher character and his two wives were pretty two dimensional. The overall aura was oppressive and depressing. I am not sure I would come back to this one.

    I have now read all the Pulitzers from 2011 and 4 from the previous decade and I'd have to say that this one, The Known World by Edward P Jones and All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr were all disappointing...I wonder what the list will look like for 2017. Anyone read City on Fire for which the first-time author got an astonishing $2M advance from the publisher?

  7. Robin Robin says:

    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 could stand alone, but which are linked because they take place in the same small community of Crosby, Maine and feature (either prominently or in the background) caustic but decent Olive Kitteridge. Each story is so intimate. Through the everyday lives of these people, Strout delves deep into the heart. Almost to the point where I felt I was reading someone's diary. I really felt I knew these people.

    I've heard complaints that this book is depressing. Really? Have you looked at real life, lately? God. For some reason after I finished reading this book I thought about some long-time family friends. Friends of my parents - both teachers, lovely people. He played organ at their church. She kept their beautiful home neat as a pin. They had two kids, one of which has Down syndrome (and who still lives with them part time today at the age of 38). As the years went on, she developed migraines and a heart condition. Then their house was lost in a flood and they got no insurance money, had to start over financially at retirement age. Their relationship with their daughter is complex and often unpleasant, so it's not always easy to see their three grandchildren. He has now been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. So it goes.

    This is life... it's not always pretty. It's not easy. We all struggle and go through the shit. And in the midst of the shit, there are these revelatory, redemptive moments. Maybe they are private moments, maybe not. Maybe they don't change the trajectory of our lives, maybe they do. But they make it all worthwhile. And that is just what Strout captures so brilliantly: the human experience.

  8. Jaline Jaline says:

    This novel is definitely about Olive Kitteridge: who she is, who she was, and most importantly, the “who” that she sees within herself.

    Her story is told through a series of connected stories: friends, neighbours, past students, people she knows in passing. It is interesting, and oh, so intriguing, that many people view her from so many different perspectives, yet there are also common threads of viewpoint.

    Many of the stories are not about Olive Kitteridge at all, yet she moves in and out of each story – sometimes as a presence to be reckoned with, sometimes like a wraith, sometimes as someone who is or was feared, sometimes as someone to be pitied or even scorned.

    Elizabeth Strout’s writing is confident and strong, as are some of her characters. She allows us to feel the full impact of these character’s personalities. On the surface, these are people we could meet and experience in our everyday lives. Elizabeth Strout takes us on a journey that skims the surface and then takes us deeper and deeper into the characters – their thoughts, feelings; the inner lives where all is definitely not as it appears at first glance.

    The psychological depths are fascinating because although the spotlight shines on one or two characters per chapter (or story), it is often in how others respond or react to them that we gain the most insight. And it is those insights that gave me further insight into myself – and my own family and friends.

    Although this is primarily Olive Kitteridge’s story, it illustrates so well that no matter how isolated one feels, or lonely, or oppressed, or confused, or blissfully oblivious, not one of us is an island. The world, the people in it – we are all in motion and that motion has impact: ours on others and others’ on us.

    This is a novel whose stories can be found everywhere, and we are so fortunate that Elizabeth Strout’s gift brings us that realization, but also envelopes us in our shared humanity and tells us it is okay to be who we are and to continue growing into who we want to be.

  9. Jim Fonseca Jim Fonseca says:

    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 stories? I think they show us “So, you think you’ve got it tough?” How about suicide? Or having a son imprisoned for stabbing a woman 29 times? Or finding out your husband had been unfaithful on the day of his funeral? Or having an only child who moves away and ignores you? As I was reading I kept thinking, ok, the theme is life goes on no matter what; you just keep on living. Concurrently I happened to be reading a great novel, Portraits of a Marriage, by the Hungarian Sandor Marai, which I also reviewed. As her marriage is disintegrating, one of the characters in that book, rails, in effect, “What am I, a tree? I can’t just go on LIVING; what I am supposed to live FOR?” Maybe Olive finds someone in the last chapter, but this “FOR” is the big unanswered question. Still a great book of interconnected stories, with Olive’s hands making the connections.

  10. Fabian Fabian says:

    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 single one of her thirteen becomes a flawless portrait in & of itself. In the fictional town of Crosby, Maine, the skeletons-in-the-denizen's-closets include thoughts of suicide, deaths, marriages, affairs. Somehow, the only other writer that's able to manifest this type of impact on the reader is Jhumpa Lahiri (it is little coincidence that her beauty of a novel, Interpreter of Maladies like Olive Kitteridge also won the Pulitzer). The literature of today is about strong, emotionally-charged episodes, readings as comforting as donuts (a motif in the novel) to the reader. The theme shall never become a cliche: To appreciate what you have when you have it, regardless of your age or gender. Everyone's human after all.

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