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Olive, Again [Reading] ➮ Olive, Again ➶ Elizabeth Strout – Thomashillier.co.uk 1 New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout continues the life of her beloved Olive Kitteridge, a character who has captured the imaginations of millions of readers. New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout continues the life of her beloved Olive Kitteridge, a character who has captured the imaginations of millions of readersPrickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is a compelling life force San Francisco Chronicle The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout animates the ordinary with an astonishing force, and she has never done soclearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire moments of transcendent grace.

10 thoughts on “Olive, Again

  1. Angela M Angela M says:

    Elizabeth Strout is such a keen observer of human nature, of our shared condition and she reminds us that life is full of a struggle of some kind for pretty much all of us In Crosby, Maine you ll find characters dealing with loneliness, infidelity, alcoholism, sickness, aging, death, regrets, so many regrets Thankfully, there also is friendship and love and empathy that Olive Kittridge finds within herself to give, because the truths about life are dauntingly sad at times More than once I stopped between stories to take a breath This is Crosby, Maine, the small coastal town where our old friend Olive Kittridge lives In reality it could be anywhere, but of course it wouldn t be the same unless Olive was there She ll tell you exactly what she thinks about you in brutally honest words She s not the best wife or mother and honestly she can be pretty brash, but it becomes obvious, though, that in spite of the things she says she cares I found at times her softer side, her vulnerable side that aren t alway evident I can t say I liked Olive very much when I started reading Olive Kitteridge, but by the end of that book I realized how many people she had positively impacted as a teacher and as a neighbor And by the end of this book, I thought how lucky some of these characters were to have Olive in their lives and I felt for Olive as she endures her own challenges.As in the first book, Strout skillfully weaves separate stories together, with Olive as the thread, but these books for me felt like novels On the one hand it s Olive s story as she reaches her seventies and eighties She s older and maybe a little self aware, but always trying to understand herself She s the center of a number of the stories and we come to know about her as she comes to know about herself Some of the stories will give you that gut punch, when Olive comes to painful moments of recognition about her family, her friends and acquaintances and of course herself In some of the stories she makes a real connection and engages with another character and only makes an appearance in others Crosby and this book are populated with realistic characters, including Olive who are filled with fears, flaws, frailties that are easily recognizable in ourselves What can I say about the writing, other than its impeccable I felt the pull of these characters from the opening lines of pretty much every story Strout is a fabulous story teller and is on my list of favorite writers I definitely recommend that Olive Kitteridge be read first in order to fully appreciate the place in her life where Olive has come at the end of this book I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House through NetGalley.

  2. Elyse Walters Elyse Walters says:

    Powerful emotional truthfulness and unforgettable narrative Brilliant novel Olive was aware of ludicrous behaviors unspeakable things spoken but what she did not understand is why she and her son, Christopher should walk into old age with a high and horrible wall between them Olive could be blunt, forthright, frank, and candid She had strong opinions and judgements she hated people who were late. etc I happened to feel as strong as Olive did about a scene at a baby shower A third gift was presented to Marlene s daughter, and Olive distinctly felt distress She could not imagine how long it would take this child to unwrap every goddamn gift on the table and put the ribbons so carefully on the goddamn paper plate, and then everyone had to wait wait while every gift was passed around She thought she had never heard of such foolishness in her life It was easy to understand Olive s impatience and judgements Of course she kept her thoughts to herself but they were so human I could just picture that baby shower the happy smiling guests but also Olive at 70ish years old and her annoyance Another scene was puzzling and quite disturbing I honestly wondered where in the world was this coming from Kayley, was a young girl who took pleasure and money from a man Mr Ringrose whom she cleaned house for while unbuttoning her blouse He watched said thank you then left her an envelope with cash This went on for nine weeks There was no one Kayley could tell about what had happened, and this knowledge stayed in her and made her almost constantly unwell I won t say how the short story ends but it s one to scratch your head with wonder I wasn t prepared to feel so sad in some of these short stories but I did Olive barely made it though a visit with her son, Christopher his wife, Annabelle and their three kids Olive was exhausted Some quiet cruelty coldness was making me feel depleted I felt so sad witnessing the detachment and bitterness between the bratty children and their grandmother the imperfections of Olive never being able to do anything right not even having enough milk or Cheerios My heart was breaking for the pain of each of the family members but I especially felt sad for Olive.To have to feel rejected judged by your adult children and grandchildren while dealing with aging has got to really hurt It s a lonely hurt that author, Elizabeth Strout soooooo masterly and gracefully understands Her skill of unraveling the complexities of family life and relationships is written with deep compassion for humanity It was so easy to imagine the different characters muddling through carrying on enduring the necessary sorrows and joys of their lives well beyond the pages This book could easily be a stand alone Strout binds together rich narratives crafted much like she did years ago with her Pulitzer winning novel Olive Kitteridge with great insights, tensions, humor, startling sadness, and compassion One of the most emotionally radiant novels about family and what divides us in our relationships and definitely about aging.that I ve read in years Olive who has become a baggy old woman thought about this The way people can love those they barely know, and how abiding that love can be, even when as in her own case it was temporary Kudos huge kudos and congrats to Elizabeth Strout for writing again a keenly observed lustrously imagined marvelous novel Thank you Random House, Netgalley, and the astonishing Elizabeth Strout

  3. Peter Peter says:

    Introspection Olive, Again is a novel that is boldly observant, honest and searches for apperception The story of the indomitable Olive Kitteridge follows on two years after her husband Henry s death Olive is a little introspective on how she, as a person, her behaviour and relationships have evolved as she ages into her eighties, especially as she experiences loss and loneliness Two years after Henry s death, Olive starts a relationship with Jack Kennison, which is touching and meaningful Jack is also a widower with some history, where an unfortunate affair and dubious sexual assault claim with a colleague ended his career as a Professor at Harvard University Jack s relationship with Olive develops and while it creates new possibilities and feelings it opens the door on how they behaved towards their respective spouses How they both missed them and how they feel about each other It also sparks the realisation that people hide emotions and worries they can t explain, which subconsciously agitates prejudices towards the world Olive is a person who doesn t step reservedly into how she perceives the world and how quick she is to comment about people in it As Jack notes, People either didn t know how they felt about something or they chose never to say how they really felt about something And this is why he missed Olive Kitteridge Olive uncloaks her deepest disquieting memories and reflects for the first time that she may have contributed to the broken or strained relationships she had, especially with Henry and her son, Christopher Considering her marriage to Henry, she reflects that as the years passed the distant her heart became and the needier his became Wondering about her son s marriage, Olive catches a glimpse of some hidden moments The door to their relationship slightly opening Peering into the interior and seeing what she was not meant to see Her son had married his mother This was how Olive had behaved to her husband, not realising that she herself had raised a motherless son The novel delivers what a special book does beyond entertainment it creates the scope to connect the writing to our own stories or those not far away It enables us to view issues through a different lens and wonder are these the events we couldn t face or appreciate We push these notions into the darkest corners of our mind and wrestle with them when we let them loose Several are let loose in this novel with outcomes of remorse, pain, heartbreak and guilt While I felt the first book had an overarching theme of betrayal this book searches for understanding and resolution and uses various threads to provide amazing glimpses into the difficulties people face in life, especially with the burden of illness, family misunderstandings or psychological trauma The scenarios are intriguing and captivating and along with beautiful prose and astounding characterisations, this book is a joy to read I felt this book was slightly better than the first It was much less a work of short stories and a solid narrative of Olive with threads that expand around her.This is one of my favourite books of the year and it certainly didn t disappoint after the long wait for the sequel I highly recommend reading this book and I d like to thank Penguin Books, Viking and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC version in return for an honest review.

  4. Paromjit Paromjit says:

    No one can write like the incomparable Elizabeth Strout, her understanding of what it is to be human and penetrate the beating heart of what comprises a community has a universality that cannot fail to resonate with the reader, sometimes perhaps uncomfortably so in the truths it lays bare, such as the physically and emotionally taxing process of ageing Olive returns, maybe not everyone s cup of tea, but definitely mine, indomitable, outspoken, cantankerous, a larger than life presence in the lives of those around her, an indisputably influential woman, even if it is sometimes in the slightest of appearances in the stories that pour forth about the community of Crosby, Maine, from the pen of Strout Olive lives through her seventies and eighties, getting married for the second time to 74 year old Jack Kennison, who may find Olive irritating on occasion but loves Olive, all that she is, the two finding a companionship that eases the loneliness of losing their spouses and getting older.Olive is aware of her shortcomings as a wife to Henry, she misses him, an ache that never disappears even as her life appears to move on, and as a mother to her son, Christopher, when his family come for a rare visit, there is a palpable awkwardness and a moment that opens her eyes as she perceives him as a motherless child, but, who as becomes apparent later, despite everything, loves her We encounter a piano playing teenager who cleans homes, acquiring cash from a strange and silent transaction with a husband A daughter cannot bear her inheritance from a morally bankrupt father and his profits from dubious investments in South Africa, she finds solace and faith in the company of her lawyer, Bernie Bernie is finding it difficult to come to terms with many of his morally reprehensible clients, whose behaviour he has facilitated through the years There is a family s conflict as it comes to terms with a daughter starring in a documentary of her life as a dominatrix Strout does not shy away from darker aspects of community, such as the abuse, the toxic families, and the challenges of alcoholism, infidelity, cancer, and the feelings of despair, the pain, and the tears Olive faces regret and loneliness, becoming considerably self aware as she ponders over the mystery of who she is and the joys and wonder of love that can sprout from the most unexpected of places Strout is an exquisite storyteller, subtle and nuanced, who gets to core of a person and a community with a simplicity that is breathtaking, and does so with grace, humanity and compassion Her portrait of Olive is outstanding, multilayered and complex, in the way she depicts Olive, getting older, invisible, lonelier, but still striving to live, connect and learn, about herself and others This is a profoundly moving novel, captivating in its portrayal of the everyday ordinariness and extraordinariness of its characters, an approach that packs a punch in its gut wrenching emotional honesty Simply brilliant and highly recommended Many thanks to Penguin UK for an ARC.

  5. Liz Liz says:

    4.5 stars, rounded upElizabeth Strout is just a fabulous writer Her ability to weave together a diverse group of characters always fascinates me Her books are a blend between short stories and a novel While I m not a fan of short stories, her books always work for me, the way each chapter links to the next in its own weird way Olive, Again returns us to Crosby, Maine Olive and her cronies are now in their 70s and looking back on their lives as much as forward I felt an alliance with Olive She s not tactful, although she s trying harder And she s not at ease She struggles to find common ground with her own son, let alone his wife and their children As she moves through her old age, she finds a way to make things work She becomes accepting I saw both myself and my parents reflected in Olive s efforts to navigate the whole aging process Strout makes every character, not just Olive, seem fully formed and real This is a small town and while it seems not much happens, the book speaks to life in all its variations It was such a rich story, it totally drew me in My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.

  6. Debbie Debbie says:

    In a knot, in a knot Scrunching, twisting, sighing instead of hopping on my pogo stick It just didn t do me like the last one did sung in a bluesy voice Oh, this book is good, very good, a 4 star read in fact, and it s sitting on my 2019 Runners Up shelf as nice and happy as it can be So it s nuts to sound so disappointed It s just that the magic wasn t there like it was in Olive Kitteridge, the moments when the words and the sentences dance in my head and turn me into a crazed pogo sticker Maybe it s just me My expectations were high as the sky, and I should have followed my mantra and lowered them We all know that Olive Kitteridge is an insanely hard act to follow Man, I must stop this Stop complaining and just talk about all the good Olive, oh Olive She s so vivid and cool And of course, there s always the question why do we love her like we do, when she really is so gruff and selfish There s Strout, doing her thing, making us like her As Olive ages, she becomes way less obnoxious and cantankerous In fact, she has MELLOWED She even helps people, which, if she did in the first book, I don t remember A few times, Olive asks people what their life is like Although this is an excellent way to try to draw out people s secrets and get them to reveal their souls and a good way for the author to get character info out to the reader, lol , I m not sure Olive would really have been that interested in other people to ask them this question But I go back and forth on this Olive is less self absorbed and she s lonely So isn t that a recipe for reaching out to others Olive also, with age, becomes and self aware Strout does that thing of getting into Olive s head so well going into everyone s head, actually , in a way that pulls out the heart She goes into thoughts, and out comes feelings As always, Strout cuts to the bone You re going along thinking the characters are boring when slowly they start to reveal their inside story, which is usually a sad one We just have to look close enough, and Strout makes it easy by giving us the magnifying glass What I love the most about the stories is how deep the conversations become, which makes the characters so real and complex Olive wants REAL, and Olive gets it There s often a pattern niceties are exchanged so at first it looks like it s the same old inane and mundane chit chat that s going nowhere , and then before you know it, the characters, often strangers or acquaintances, are talking about how they feel disappointment with their spouses or kids fear of aging and death loneliness grief regrets their mistakes or bad luck Strout makes these conversations happen seamlessly, and it never seems fake Wouldn t it feel richer if all our own conversations were that real and honest Sometimes I wondered if Strout was stretching it would people really open up that much But she s so skillful in her setups, I buy it Any little doubt I have gets eaten up by a big I Don t Care Anyway What we end up seeing, and what s so touching, is the rich connections people make, and the love and pain that exists within families All of the thirteen stories end with poignant moments, which is always satisfying, even if there isn t necessarily closure.This book picks up right where Olive Kitteridge left off the first story here is about Jack, who was in the last story in the earlier book As with the first book, Olive stars in her own stories but she often makes cameo appearances in others For example, in one story, her only appearance is when she passes by a woman buying a painting at a street fair She mutters aloud something along the lines of That s crap And just those few words affect how the buyer viewed the picture once she got it home How could it not We get to see Olive through the eyes of people in her town as well through her own eyes.One of the reasons that Olive is so endearing is that she hates pretension and prejudice So it s funny when Jack calls her a reverse snob A comment like that and there are several in this book stopped me in my tracks and made me think about Olive s outlook, and outlooks in real life I love it that Strout stirs the pot and makes you think.As I started each story, I was panting hoping for scoop about people I met in the first book Instead, new people were constantly being introduced, which got annoying as I had to remember a bunch of new names But if Strout had continued with some of the original characters, I would have had to reread stories in Olive Kitteridge to keep track, which would have been a royal pain so, careful what I wish for We did get follow ups on some people, and I slurped up their stories like I was dying of thirst Ha, and one nasty person from book 1 got theirs in book 2, and that s always oh so satisfying Way to go, Strout I could bring out the Complaint Board, but I just don t want to write the words Complaint Board all bold face and vivid It s Strout Come on I just can t So, about that missing magic I m trying to figure out why I said this book doesn t have the magic that Olive Kitteridge does, and here are the reasons I came up with The language just doesn t make the hair on my arms stand up Making sentences sing is an art, and with Strout s simplistic sentences, it s even harder to do I ve read Strout s My Name Is Lucy Barton, and I had the same problem just some little thing in the language didn t click with me Maybe it seemed over simplistic With Anything Is Possible and Olive Kitteridge, the language absolutely mesmerized me Hair on my arms standing up all over the place The stories here don t have as many surprises or twists The stories are WAY depressing Too much introspection and philosophizing at the cost of plot I had fewer favorite stories in this collection, and even they seemed a little less powerful than the earlier Olive stories Hands down favorite story The Poet About a conversation between Olive and a former student who became a famous poet OMG is this a great story Ends with quite a zinger I want to go reread that one right now Runners up include Cleaning A disturbing story about a teenager cleaning houses The End of the Civil War Days A house with duct tape that divides territory, and a daughter with a secret life Labor Olive s thoughts while a mom to be opens presents at a baby shower are priceless The scene made me laugh and it made me nod Oh, poor Olive And there s a big, unexpected event, which changes the story entirely.The fact that the stories are so depressing is a big deal for me Maybe it s worse because the stories are so realistic And as Olive got older, I got older The physical and psychological problems that old people have are huge and ugly, and Strout gently shoves them in our faces I see sawed between feeling like the last couple of stories were cathartic and feeling like I couldn t stand another minute of reading about all the gloom ahead for me Besides, if I want catharsis, my old fart friends are just a phone call away I have a major senior birthday coming up here next month The problems of the aging Olive hit way too close to home So this, of course, is not a criticism of the book it s just that the subject matter bummed me out too much I m thinking that if you re under 65, you ll have an easier time reading this book it may not depress you you ll be able to fully appreciate the beauty of the stories, the art of this amazing writer, without thinking, uh oh, I could be next There s talk about the fear of death Again, on one hand I love that Strout covers such a real and important topic one that no one wants to talk about , but on the other hand, reading about it makes me anxious as hell It s times like this that I say, bring on the funny, bring on fantasy lives I read for escape, to help me avoid thinking about scary things that I have no power to change This book didn t take me far enough away from reality.Despite my complaints, I recommend this book Strout is a master storyteller Her stories are intense, her characters are vivid and complex I highlighted a gazillion sentences and paragraphs , which I only do when I m super engaged and impressed There s so much wisdom in this book If you loved Olive Kitteridge, you ll love this book If you didn t read Olive Kitteridge yet, you don t have to read it first, but I think it makes the experience of reading this one a little richer I hope hope hope that they do another TV series based on Olive s life But they d absolutely have to get Frances McDormand to play Olive again I think hair and makeup artists could make her age perfectly Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

  7. Debra Debra says:

    Olive, Olive, Olivewhat can I say, she is quite the character as are most of the characters in this book I think it is essential to read the first book in this series Olive Kitteridge to fully appreciate this book As with the first book, this book is told through not only Olive s story but various people who live in Crosby, Maine and have some form of interaction with Olive.Olive is perceived by those in her community as being odd She s a tough old broad who speaks her mind, can often be blunt and brutally honest But she also has a heart of gold and as she reaches her seventies and eighties becomes self aware and must come to terms with the harsh realities that come with aging It s lonely, it s devastating, frustrating and something she faces in her own very Olive way Plus, looking back, she examines her life, her choices and her relationships You all know who you are If you just look at yourself and listen to yourself, you know exactly who you are And don t forget it In this book several things are addressed in addition to aging, alcoholism, infidelity, the divide that happens between people as communication breaks down, loneliness, and isolation Stout continues to write characters with real issues with tremendous skill and insight Her writing is beautiful and insightful Olive has her struggles in this book, make no mistake, this is not a happy go lucky book This has a feeling of sadness throughout, but there is also hope as Olive continues to grow and gain some insight Maybe you fall in love with people who save your life even when you think it s not worth saving Beautifully written look at Olive in the later stages of her life Thank you to Random House Publishing and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review All the thoughts and opinions are my own Traveling Sisters group read

  8. Carol Carol says:

    Olive thinks everything is crap or does she Elizabeth Strout is back and so is the memorable curmudgeon Olive Kitteridge Somewhat older now and heavier, but she s still formidable with her forthright personality and smart mouth tell it like it is comments that seem to explode out of her. Everyone in Crosby, Maine whether visitor or resident seem to have a truckload of major problems in their life, and they all seem to know or are connected to Olive in one way or another. The format of this novel is similar to book one as we are introduced to a variety of characters, both old and new.and their outlandish, often complex stories. Olive is still a hoot, honest to a fault, but a person with a good heart and worries of her own as she admits to and laments a multitude of mistakes in her life. OLIVE, AGAIN will break your heart and make you smile with its honest emotion So agree with her assessment of petunia s and not wanting to cross over that bridge Arc provided by Random House Publishing Group Random House via NetGalley in exchange for review

  9. Zoeytron Zoeytron says:

    Copy furnished by Net Galley for the price of a review.Olive Kitteridge is a difficult woman, formidable and even harsh at times One who says what she thinks and lets the chips fall where they may It would be fair to say she is not universally liked, referred to by some as that old bag The indignities of aging are front and center In her 80 s now, Olive reflects on the effect of bad memories that follow you through life, profound loneliness, becoming invisible These interwoven stories carry with them an intimacy, a kind of melancholy beauty tinged with regret.

  10. JanB JanB says:

    For those who loved Olive Kitteridge, as I did, have no fear Olive is still Olive And for those who have loved Strout s previous books, a few characters make an appearance in this one Olive is still the crusty, prickly, and judgmental woman who says what she thinks But, she s mellowing Perhaps it s the indignities of aging, or the fact that at her age the losses mount up quickly, but Olive takes a long hard look at herself and doesn t always like what she sees As Olive deals with the harsh realities of getting older, she must also face some harsh truths about herself There s a particularly poignant moment when Olive realizes that how others see her is far different than she sees herself Her eyes are opened that she has reaped what she has sown Which should give satisfaction, but instead it made me even empathetic, because the source of Olive s dysfunction is damage done in childhood She doesn t want to be the way she is It s complicated, this life of ours We see her struggling to be a better person, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much But as we saw in the first book, Olive has a soft center and can be incredibly understanding and kind as she reaches out to others who are hurting Then the next moment she s judgmental and ugly Perhaps she is like most of us than we care to admit, a combination of great characteristics with some not so nice ones Olive simply says some things out loud that most of us might only think, as when she declares the art at a local art fair to be crap I loved that this book caused me to think and reflect I could only read two stories at a time before stopping to absorb and discuss what I d just read If you aren t in the mood to read about illness, death, and the indignities of aging, then you might want to set this aside for later Having just lost my mother a few months ago, there were parts that were painfully true to life As difficult as it was for me, I appreciate that Strout doesn t sugarcoat the reality Strout writes beautifully and with enormous empathy for the human condition, and is one of the few authors who writes about ordinary lives in an extraordinary way But, as in any collection, some of the stories resonated while others, not so much I confess that several had me scratching my head for days I simply couldn t figure out why they were included or what purpose they served to the overall story Except perhaps this people are complicated and we are all struggling with the reality of being flawed humans in a flawed world Highly recommended, this would make an excellent choice for book clubs I m glad I had Marialyce as my book buddy to discuss this with as we read This was going to be a solid 4 stars for the reasons I mentioned above, but days later I am still thinking about this book, so for that, it got bumped up to 5 stars I received a digital copy of the book via NetGalley All opinions are my own For this and other reviews please visit

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