Read Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout Online


At 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 livAt 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. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition–its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires....

Title : Olive Kitteridge
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780812971835
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 286 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Olive Kitteridge Reviews

  • Lesley
    2018-12-21 08:20

    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...

  • Nancy
    2018-12-30 09:26

    Posted at Shelf InflictedThis 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.

  • Scott Axsom
    2018-12-20 06:28

    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.

  • Michael Finocchiaro
    2019-01-05 05:34

    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?

  • jo
    2019-01-07 02:06

    don't know if it was me being meditative or moody or under the sobering influence of the recession, but i found this absolutely gorgeous book SO DAMN SAD. there are, let's see, at least two suicides but it might be three, three deaths but it might be more (one the death of a very young person), intolerably sad aging folks, a myriad broken relationships, and a ton of god-awful loneliness. how can a town as sweet and stably populated as crosby, maine, foster so much loneliness? aren't small towns supposed to be all about people knowing each other and supporting each other and all that? why don't the lonely people go hang out at the diner and have themselves a cup of coffee, chat the day away? i mean, really. i understand being alone in miami or new york or los angeles, but how can you be so lonely in crosby, maine?i guess american writers and filmmakers have worked very hard at showing us that you can be plenty lonely in small town america, but somehow this is sinking in now for the first time, thanks to Olive Kitteridge. i think i'll stay in the big city, where at least you can be lonely with some privacy, out of the probing gaze of your gossiping neighbors. but see, gossip is this two-sided thing. one the one hand, it can cut you down and shrink you (if you let it). on the other, it keeps people talking. when someone dies, everyone shows up at the funeral. when someone goes to the hospital, everyone asks after them. maybe the person who is asked would rather be left alone, but there's something to be said in favor of being asked (this is actually the point of one of these thirteen stories). a gossiping community is a community in which everyone is mourned. there is no indifference and almost never glee at people's death, however disliked they may have been in life. groups come together for the death of their own. this is something to be said for small towns. and after all, no one is immune to loneliness. it's the human condition. which is precisely why this book is so sad: one would rather not be one lovely scene (there are countless lovely scenes in this book) olive kitterdidge finds out that an elderly man, an out-of-towner she stopped to talk to, just lost his wife of a lifetime. "then you are in hell," she says, matter-of-factly. "then i am in hell," he replies. olive kitteridge, the nominal protagonist of this "novel in stories," is a masterpiece of writerly wisdom. she is wrong and intolerable in all sorts of ways: she is rude, judgmental, selfish, a bad mother, and a bad wife. she is ungainly and has bad taste in clothing. she is one of those people who, by rights, should not be much liked, and in fact she isn't. but to us she is us. if we were her, we'd find a way to come to terms with ourselves and be proud of at least something. so we come to terms with olive kitteridge. we forgive her. we forgive ourselves. we return over and over to the things she/we did well, that one time when she/we saved a person's life without much awareness of what we were doing; that other time when this kid who didn't talk to anyone talked to her/us. it's amazing how a novel that does not focus entirely on one character (in some of the stories she is just named once or twice) should manage to make this character, nonetheless, so real and compelling. the compulsion is to identify with her. but maybe it was me, bummed and worried about the recession and not too pleased with myself. i identified. identification is the path to compassion. this book helped me be see others, maybe myself too, with a little more compassion.

  • Fabian
    2018-12-25 08:18

    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 is human after all...

  • Robin
    2019-01-12 10:07

    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.

  • Will Byrnes
    2018-12-20 06:20

    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 siteLoneliness 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 actressOlive 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. =============================EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pagesThe facebook link is to a fan site, not to Strout herselfHere is the Official Site for the HBO productionA nice profile of Strout on Wiki11/3/14 - I saw the 1st episode of the HBO series - dazzling! Must see!

  • Tatiana
    2019-01-05 10:14

    I've listened to 4 stories out of 13 and I think I've had enough. This book should come with a Depressed Senior Citizen Characters warning. I am sure my impression of this book is colored by the awful narrator/actor who read every character, regardless of the age and gender, as a 80-year old screeching and bleating elderly person (no offense to elderly), but the fact is the majority (if not all) of characters are old and/or miserable. 1/4th of the book is over, and I have encountered: an elderly man pining over a young woman; a bitter and jealous elderly wife (Olive Kitteridge herself); their miserable son getting married and finally moving out of his parents' house at the ripe age of 38; a single 50-year old woman - a piano player, an alcoholic and a lover of a married man. And this tiny town, where the story is set, has the highest number of suicidal/depressed people I've encountered in literature. The whole atmosphere of Olive Kitteridge is just so dreary, dull and depressing, with not a moment of hope or joy.Yeah, I am done with it.

  • Orsodimondo
    2019-01-03 07:32

    UNA PICCOLA ESPLOSIONE Paolo Cognetti mi ha condutto da ‘Olive Kitteridge’: il suo bel Sofia si veste sempre di nero ha preparato il terreno, e quando ha elencato alcune delle sue fonti di ispirazione, non ho potuto fare a meno di leggere il libro di Strout.In effetti, le due opere hanno una struttura molto simile, sono romanzi costruiti tramite una teoria di racconti che potrebbero vivere da soli, e invece, tenuti insieme compongono un romanzo. Intelaiatura che a me piace e affascina parecchio (vedi anche la Egan di Il tempo è un bastardo e la Munro di Chi ti credi di essere?).Frances McDormand interpreta Olive nella versione televisiva diretta da Lisa Cholodenko andata in onda nel 20014.Nel caso di Strout, sono anche più indipendenti che nel caso di Sofia: all’interno di ogni singolo racconto, Strout ripete notazioni già dette, ribadisce dettagli, proprio come se i suoi racconti fossero nati per vivere separati, e solo in seguito collegati.In questa raccolta romanzo, i vari racconti (tredici) dipingono una piccola comunità provinciale del Maine sul finire dello scorso millennio fino ai giorni nostri, dopo l’attentato alle Torri Gemelle, che viene citato più di una volta. In quasi tutti i racconti compare lei, Olive Kitteridge, a volte di sfuggita, a volte di sfondo, o di passaggio, oppure protagonista assoluta.Olive Kitteridge probabilmente non è la persona più interessante del Maine. Sa anche essere piuttosto insopportabile, se non addirittura ottusa e odiosa. Spesso viene voglia di allontanarsi da lei, viene voglia di scappare, proprio come ha fatto suo figlio Christopher che un bel giorno ha messo quattromila e passa chilometri di distanza fra sé e la madre e dalla costa Est s’è trasferito in California. Faccio fatica a capire come Olive sia riuscita ad appropriarsi del titolo dell’opera, per giunta in solitario – come abbia fatto a essere la star di questo film, io avrei scelto altri protagonisti, tra i tanti personaggi che Strout presenta, a cominciare dal marito.La miniserie di quattro episodi, più che dignitosa trasposizione televisiva, è stata girata principalmente in Massachusetts, non nel Maine.Olive è qualcuno di cui si dice che aveva un atteggiamento al di là di ogni giustificazione, e ci si domanda come il marito faccia a sopportarla (e in effetti, Henry, il marito farmacista, ha sempre provato un insolito intenso piacere nell’uscire di casa al mattino per andare al lavoro, un piacere ben più vivo di quello di rientrare in casa la sera).Il figlio, ormai grande, in procinto di diventare anche padre, le dice con calma e franchezza: Tu hai un pessimo carattere…sei capace di far stare malissimo gli altri. Hai fatto stare malissimo papà…Tuttavia, grazie all’abilità di Strout, e forse anche all’imponente stazza, Olive è paradigmatica e sembra quasi contenere e accogliere e comprendere l’intera comunità di Crosby, Maine.Elizabeth Strout lavora sulle situazioni, le descrizioni, i dettagli, istantanee, tessere, atmosfere, apparenti divagazioni, più che vere trame. E così, il mosaico si compone guardandolo tutto insieme, non isolando i pezzetti, fotogramma dopo fotogramma il film si forma.Richard Jenkins interpreta Henry, il marito di Olive, più paziente di Giobbe.Non sceglie solo il tran tran, la quotidianità banale, la stupefacente normalità dei viventi, come sostiene Baricco, ci sono situazioni fuori dall’ordinario (se non altro, c’è da sperare che non siano situazioni quotidiane): c’è chi cade in mare dalla scarpata per raccogliere fiori e chi si lancia in salvataggio (non si saprà mai se ce la fanno o meno) - ci sono tossici mascherati che sequestrano degli ostaggi - una ragazzina muore di anoressia – un matrimonio viene disdetto il giorno della celebrazione, con la chiesa piena di invitati e la sposa in abito bianco… Elizabeth Strout sa che anche molti buoni matrimoni nascondono la solitudine di uno dei due partner, o di entrambi: e anche in presenza di un amore solido, un incontro può essere più fatale di quanto si vorrebbe.In una piccola comunità, è più facile che l’amante di tuo marito sia anche una tua amica: e più la comunità è piccola, e più è facile che sia anche la tua migliore amica. Se non lo è, è comunque qualcuno che conosci, che incroci e incontri.Alla morte del marito, Olive sembra trovare un po’ di consolazione in compagnia del nuovo vicino di casa, interpretato da Bill Murray. Due solitudini che si incontrano brevemente.E così, man mano, questa piccola città della provincia americana, questo peytonplace, diventa familiare molto più di Orte o Forlì - l’immaginario americano è più forte di quello italiano, non c’è nulla da fare, oltreoceano hanno sempre capito che la cultura è un ottimo mezzo per trasmettere al mondo i propri modelli (e quindi, occupare potere).Siamo dalle parti di Anne Tyler, non solo geograficamente, ma anche come tono (scrittura liscia e piana come un tavolo di biliardo, senza impennate, tutti pensano di sapere tutto, ma in realtà nessuno sa mai un cavolo di niente), mi riferisco alla Tyler dell’epoca migliore (Ristorante Nostalgia) prima che cominciasse a ripetere se stessa a usura.L’ambientazione è un piccolo paese del Maine, con il bar del molo, il negozio che vende doughnuts, il liceo dove insegnava Olive, la farmacia gestita dal marito.Non tutto è sempre credibile, la mano di Strout non è abile alla stessa maniera in tutte le pagine.Poi, proprio come nel libro di Cognetti, sembra che l’ultimo capitolo/racconto debba essere decisamente inferiore a tutti quelli che hanno preceduto.In questo caso m’immagino che sia andata così: Strout ha fatto leggere il manoscritto a un’amica che le ha detto “è molto bello Liz, mi piace. Ma quanto dolore! Quanto grigio e quanta amarezza! Anche il mare sembra sempre grigio e agitato, mai una volta che mettesse la voglia di fare il bagno!”E allora Strout ha aperto il barattolo della melassa e l’ha rovesciato intero nell’ultimo racconto: con il risultato di lasciarmi a bocca amara per eccesso di zucchero.E così non posso fare a meno di chiedermi se il mondo non sarebbe un posto migliore senza gente come Olive Kitteridge che, per una manciata di momenti di comprensione e calore e viva comunicazione, ha sparso e distribuito tonnellate di acidità e sgradevolezza.E mi chiedo anche quale sia la libidine di riconoscere qualcuno degli abitanti di Crosby, Maine, nel proprio dirimpettaio o nel macellaio, come se con i vicini non bastasse averci a che fare quotidianamente già qui, in Rome, Italy.PSMi piace l’entusiasmo di Baricco per questo libro, gli genera belle parole, tipo queste: Quasi tutti i personaggi fotografati sono anziani, o sull’orlo della pensione, o giù di lì. Bisogna vederli, infagottati in quella loro pelle di carta velina, mentre spiano i battiti del cuore, un po’ a vigilare sull’eventuale infarto, e un po’ a registrare, stupefatti, l’ostinata epifania di desideri fuori tempo massimo. Sono magnifici quando si chinano sul libro mastro della loro vita a calcolare, mettendo in colonna i ricordi, una somma che non viene mai. Covano rimorsi per cui non hanno più tempo, e rimpianti che fanno fatica a ricordare. Leggono il giornale, costernati dall’aver dimenticato quale è stato il preciso momento in cui hanno cessato di avere delle opinioni. Ogni tanto squilla il telefono, e forse è uno dei figli, ormai grandi, ma poi non lo è quasi mai, e allora tornano a sciabattare in quelle loro piccole case rese enormi dal silenzio, e dalle stanze vuote. Tuttavia sono capaci di ridere, ognuno ha un segreto a cui si scalda nell’inverno di quel crepuscolo, e tutti sanno che è un dono, ogni mossa della vita – anche quel giallo del bosco, o lo zucchero sulla ciambella.PPSSTra i protagonisti più ricorrenti, i tulipani che Olive pianta ogni anno, e la mirica cerifea, l’albero della cera tipico del nord America.Crosby, Maine, luogo letterario.

  • Dolors
    2019-01-16 02:12

    “She didn’t like to be alone. Even more, she didn’t like being with people.”Olive Kitterigde is much more than a retired teacher, intransigent mother, exasperating wife or whimsical neighbor. She is the common thread that interweaves the prosaic lives, everyday tragedies and asphyxiating Zeitgeist of the townspeople of Crosby, a small town located in Maine, a place where the lives of others collide with the adjacent frontiers of oneself. Olive Kitteridge is the result of a finely threaded gossamer of stories told by a cacophony of voices that bring Ollie, as her benevolent husband Henry calls her, to life through polyhedral perspectives of her complex personality, the interactions she has with other characters and the expectations they project on her. And so Olive never achieves a stationary condition, she is incessantly eroded by a patchwork of inner and outer circumstances, direct and tangent relationships and the process of ageing that gradually transforms an archetypal anti-heroine into a conflicted woman, sometimes cruel, sometimes obstinate, but above all, flawed and very humane.“All these lives," she said. "All the stories we never know.” A parade of small miseries, touching greatness and inevitable bewilderment that is ever present in the majority of human actions marches past Olive’s eyes while she weeds her petunias, shaping her self-consciousness and dislocating the core of her existence. Young people seeking death, rebellious teenagers, spiteful offspring, widows who ponder about the meaning of life, elderly couples rejuvenated by the possibility of a new love, marriages that last because of inertia, painful solitudes, unjustified acts of violence, a conglomerate of singular individuals that become iconic paradigms of life in an American town in modern times and the whirlpool of secrets underneath.With highly polished and lucid language, not exempt of irony or biting humor, and making use of the third-person narrator, which provides the precise distance to observe the characters from the vantage point straddling clinical objectivity and psychological empathy, Elizabeth Strout masters the technique of creating a homogeneous atmosphere that brings together an apparently disperse plot delivered by way of unconnected stories. And Olive, that familiar character that equally infuriates and charms the reader, personifies the grandiosity and desolation of daily existence and winks mischievously to the histrionic self that is hidden in each of us.Life is a strange, convoluted business and staying afloat, regardless of the inexorable passage of time that will escort all of us to the same ominous culmination, is a small act of bravery. Strout’s tapestry of intimate details and acute observations reverberates with that truth and at the end of the journey, Olive Kitteridge turns out to be a universal mirror that absorbs the dull grey of existence and exudes the vivid promise of second chances.“Oh, insane, ludicrous, unknowable world! Look how she wanted to live, look how she wanted to hold on.”

  • Joe Valdez
    2018-12-21 09:34

    The best novel I've read since joining Goodreads is East of Eden by John Steinbeck. The second best is Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Published in 2008 and winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, this collection of thirteen stories all feature or focus on a retired seventh grade math teacher in the fictional seaside town of Crosby, Maine as she enters the winter of her life, still in possession of the vinegar her former students or fellow townsfolk have tasted for years. Like Steinbeck, Strout's canvas is big and her work is bold, infused with subtle wit and passion, and is undiluted by commercial considerations while in the pursuit of emotional honesty. This novel made me think about my life, particularly my relationship with my Olive-like mother.In the first chapter, simply labeled "Pharmacy," Strout opens us to the life of Henry Kitteridge, a mild-mannered man who likes people, doesn't like to hear from cursing and never misses church or a civic activity. His wife is Olive doesn't like most people, stops attending Sunday service and sees through people to their flaws or frailties while her husband, a pharmacist, is more sympathetic (or naïve, depending on your point of view). Henry hires a bright newlywed named Denise Thibodeau to help around the pharmacy. Denise's husband is also named Henry and Henry Kitteridge's year with the young couple is one of the happiest in his life, if not the happiest. Like most things, it doesn't last.He passes by where the pharmacy used to be. In its place now is a large chain drugstore with huge glass sliding doors, covering the ground where both the old pharmacy and grocery store stood, large enough so that the back parking lot where Henry would linger with Denise by the dumpster at the day's end before getting into their separate cars--all this is now taken over by a store that sells not only drugs, but huge rolls of paper towels and boxes of all sizes of garbage bags. Even plates and mugs can be bought here, spatulas, cat food. The trees off to the side have been cut down to make a parking lot. You get used to things, he thinks, without getting used to things.In the fourth chapter, "A Little Burst," Olive Kitteridge marries off her only child, Christopher, a sensitive boy who grows up to be a podiatrist. Christopher caps a six week romance to a visiting gastroenterologist named Dr. Suzanne Bernstein (Dr. Sue) with a wedding. Olive notes that for all of her knowledge, Dr. Sue doesn't know a thing about flowers, one of Olive's remaining passions. The Kittreidges have built Christopher a house which the couple envisions being filled with grandchildren. But Olive is torn apart by the loss of her son and sequesters herself in their bedroom during the reception. Olive and Christopher's relationship has been strenuous, and she questions whether she's been a good mother.Olive, on the edge of the bed, leans her face into her hands. She can almost not remember the first decade of Christopher's life, although some things she does remember and doesn't want to. She tried teaching him to play the piano and he wouldn't play the notes right. It was how scared he was of her that made her go all wacky. But she loved him! She would like to say this to Suzanne. She would like to say, Listen, Dr. Sue, deep down there is a thing inside me, and sometimes it swells up like the head of a squid and shoots blackness through me. I haven't wanted it to be this way, but so help me, I have loved my son.In the fifth chapter, "Starving," Harmon Newton is also drawn to the vitality of a young couple, a boy named Tim working at the sawmill for the summer and his ragamuffin girlfriend Nina, whom Tim met following Phish on tour. Harmon's house empty save his emotionally distant wife Bonnie, he's indulged in an affair with a young widow named Daisy Foster. Harmon decides to return his relationship with Daisy to its platonic roots, which Daisy accepts with grace and the two remain good friends. The troubled Nina, an anorexic, loses her boyfriend and her lodging and is taken in by Daisy. When Olive Kitteridge drops by to collect for the Salvation Army, she is overpowered by how sick Nina is and joins Harmon and Daisy is trying to see the girl receives treatment.You started to expect things at a certain age. Harmon knew that. You worried about heart attacks, cancer, the cough that turned into a ferocious pneumonia. You could even expect to have a kind of midlife crisis--but there was nothing to explain what he felt was happening to him, that he'd been put into a transparent plastic capsule that rose off the ground and was tossed and blown and shaken so fiercely that could not possibly his way back to the quotidian pleasures of his past life. Desperately, he did not want this. And yet, after that morning at Daisy's, when Nina had cried, and Daisy had gotten on the phone, making arrangements for the parents to come and get her--after that morning, the sight of Bonnie made him feel cold."Sad," "bleak," "boring," "couldn't stand the main character" are a few of the criticisms I've spotted in other reviews and I suppose if all you focus on is Olive Kitteridge or her darkest, most negative thoughts, you could feel that way about Olive Kitteridge. I found a whole lot more going on beneath the surface here than harshness. Going back to John Steinbeck and why he's my favorite author and creator of my favorite novel, Strout infuses her novel not with self-satisfied language or false hope, but with storytelling, namely, a wonderful amount of wit and passion. For example:Olive had graduated magna cum laude from college. And Henry's mother had actually not liked that. Imagine. Pauline had actually said something about magna cum laude girls being plain and not having much fun ... Well, Olive was not going to spoil this moment thinking of Pauline. She finished up, washed her hands, and looked around as she stuck them under the dryer, thinking how the bathroom was huge, big enough to do surgery in. It was because of people in wheelchairs. Nowadays you got sued if you didn't build something big enough for a wheelchair, but she'd rather somebody just shoot her if it came to that.Or:It has taken Marlene years to stop calling her Mrs. Kitteridge, which is what happens when you have people in school. And of course the opposite is true, which is that Olive continues to see half the town as kids, as she can still see Ed Bonney and Marlene Monroe as young schoolkids, falling in love, walking home day after day from school. When they reached Crossbow Corners, they would stand and talk, and sometimes Olive would see them there as late as five o'clock, because Marlene had to go one way and Ed the other.Olive is a retired seventh grade math teacher; my mother is a retired fifth grade science teacher. Olive is from Maine; my parents are from Texas. These are not soft people. Christopher has had a complicated relationship with his mother and made her cry; I have had the same experiences with my mother. Teachers can be authoritative and do not often accept that people won't do what they've decided would be best for them. I identified with Henry, who could be in love with a tough, intelligent woman like Olive without suffering as she suffers. He irritates his wife incessantly and Olive even considers leaving him at one point, but comes to realize that she has no better friend in the world.This is such a powerful character. What I valued in her was her honesty. This might be considered an affliction, but it is definitely not a weakness. The truth can be ugly. Strout understands that there are people like Henry Kitteridge who need to be helpful, building bridges and looking on the bright side but there are also people like Olive Kitteridge who'd rather be sick with misery at times but see things as they really are. This power has made students wary of her, like they'd beware a witch. Certain kids exhibiting signs of anxiety in her class would likely find Mrs. Kitteridge starting at them and later, confiding to them that if they ever needed to talk to someone they could talk to her. Olive knows.The novel stops short at complete and total satisfaction with two stories I felt most removed from Olive Kitteridge and her world--"Criminal," in which a pyromaniac young woman reaches out of her loneliness to a catalogue company call center operator, and "Ship In a Bottle," in which an 11-year-old watches her neurotic mother and older sister, jilted at the altar, bounce off each other. These chapters struggled to hold my attention but coming late in the book, made me want to spend more time with Olive. I can't fault Strout for making her title character such a strong presence. I could feel Olive Kitteridge changing me while I was reading it. The novel makes me want to call or write my parents more than I do, even if it's to reiterate things I've said and that they already know. It also makes me more conscious than ever of my dark side, how it's important not to be as naïve as Henry, perhaps, nor as acidic in thought as Olive, when negativity sometimes makes it difficult for her to get out of bed. This book makes me appreciate that as often as we hear not to take life for granted, there are consequences for this that can branch you off whatever trail you're on in life and take you to a wilderness you may not like when you get there. Strout explores these pathways with grace, beauty and an absolute ardor for life.

  • Teresa
    2019-01-05 08:17

    4 and 1/2 starsWe all have known an Olive -- or at least, we think we know her. Strout shows us the parts we don't know, what's behind the prickliness and the 'attitude.' Through fiction, we now have a better understanding of such a person.It's a rare writer who can embody a character so well. And the minor characters too -- they are all living, breathing people. More than one of these 'minor' characters are so well-drawn and intriguing that I wouldn't have minded knowing more about them.Not all the stories are about Olive, though she 'appears' in all of them, if only peripherally. In three of the stories (and they might be my favorites, though it's hard to pick a favorite) other women (one 'older,' the others young) are the main characters, and Olive is just a thought in their heads. In two of the heads, she is a scary presence, but the older sister of the one who is afraid of her remembers something Olive told her when she was Olive's student and it gives her the courage to change her life.In the first story (about Olive's husband) I marked a simile that I liked: "... she had a darkness that seemed to stand beside her like an acquaintance that would not go away." After finishing the last story, I reread the phrase. I found it an interesting contrast with the last story, which is full of sunlit imagery.4 and 1/2 stars, because I felt the ending of one otherwise strong story was too gimmicky.

  • ·Karen·
    2018-12-24 09:07

    WOW!How appropriate that Olive should be large: she is larger than life, human but more so. She's angrier, more unrepentant, and far less tolerant, of herself as much as of others, but at the same time she's also more feeling, more compassionate, more sensitive than the average member of the human race. She's raw, as if an insulating layer had been stripped away, leaving her to feel and see more than most. The magical thing is that you feel and see too, you develop a kind of preternatural sensitivity. Schiller's idea of an aesthetic education must have dreamt of this book. To read it makes you more human too.Is it sad when Olive has to visit a much depleted Henry in a nursing home? No, no, no. It's life. That's how life is. It ends some time. "We all know this stuff is coming. Not many are lucky enough to just drop dead in their sleep." All the people here are struggling, pushing through, taking knocks and then standing up again to carry on. That's all there is. And life is worthwhile when there are books like this to read.

  • Meredith Holley (Sparrow)
    2018-12-20 10:13

    If I could use one word to describe this book, it would probably be “boring.” “Awkward” is a close runner-up. I think Elizabeth Strout must be the type of person who is less of the entertainment school of writing and more of the vitamins school of writing. But, I am left wondering what nutritional value I got out of this. Mostly, it just seemed like a bunch of people sitting around being petty, judging other people’s Issues, and thinking about cheating on each other. Like, whoa, deep. The structure of the book is a bunch of different short stories that all somehow reference this one bitchy lady, Olive Kitteridge. It’s not a bad structure if there was something you wanted to know about the person, but in itself the structure is more of a gimmick than anything. Alone, it is neither good nor bad, but it’s easy to get trapped in a gimmick and refuse to edit because you’re married to it. I feel like that’s what happened here. A few of the better stories only incidentally referenced Olive Kitteridge, and I think they could have made better (by which I mean more entertaining and containing a plot) overall stories than Olive’s. Maybe I am just not interested in her. She is the mean math teacher, controlling mother, self-absorbed wife, busybody neighbor. None of the ways this played out were particularly appalling, but they were not endearing either. She started out meh and stayed meh throughout. I guess there is some reference in her character to the frigidness of New England towns, and I feel equally indifferent about that.But, okay, I did like this recurrent theme about not being afraid of our own hunger. The book probably explores desire, and the stories are probably all studies about human desire and how it expresses itself in different ways. I don’t know, maybe all books are about that in some ways, and I'd rather read Wuthering Heights if I'm going for desire. This had alcoholism, anorexia, suicide, LOADS of adultery (contemplation), runaways, food allergies, robbery, murder (contemplation), and probably other topics like that. And then it ends (I guess spoiler alert, but it’s not really like there is a plot to this book, so I don’t think it really spoils anything) with a sort of huu-uuh in a story about some people in their seventies thinking about having sex with each other and how they were assholes to their kids. So, I don’t know. I’m going to give this two stars because it’s so boring. Even the robbery is boring. I didn't hate it as much as it sounds like I did, but it would be a lie if I said I enjoyed it. There are all of these bloated similes, too, which are just painful. I can’t think of an example now, but something like, “She gazed into her cup of coffee and then noticed on the counter crumbs of a muffin LIKE GRAINS OF THE SANDS OF TIME-IME-IME-IME.” What. Ever. I’m only exaggerating a little. Everything was like the ocean waves ebbing and flowing, etc. I listened to this on audio, and it was also meh. Now that I’m looking at the cover, it seems oddly apt. When I first looked at it, I was like, what the fuck is that? And it seemed kind of interesting and complex. Then I realized it was just a boring leaf. Then I gazed at my coffee and noticed on the table the leaves of the book pages like the leaves of the book of time-ime-ime-ime. This business about the trappings of time was probably not literally in the book BUT IT COULD HAVE BEEN.When she would come back to the hunger thing, though, I liked that. It seems like a good point – not to be afraid of our own hunger. I don’t really know what it means, and I question whether Strout does either, but it sounds good.

  • Cheryl
    2018-12-26 02:05

    Whenever I read a Pulitzer-prize-winning book (or nominee), I'm tempted to look for the chutzpah. For there is no way a book wins this honorable prize without doing something that has not been done before, or without taking something that has been done before and doing it better. This chutzpah is usually in the form, the style, or the story arc. With this novel, it is the way in which short stories are interwoven using one subject: the idiosyncratic, Olive Kitteridge. Never mind that Olive is not the alluring one, for Olive is not really your likable personality; neither is she that much interesting. Her husband, Henry, scores more likeability points than she does in the beginning. Olive is a force to be reckoned with though. She is such an integral part of the discussion on life that Strout has introduced here. This is why following Olive is necessary because she is the lens through which life is not too often viewed in literature. She is a towering presence, a character who is discrepant and irascible. These characters living in the coastal town of Maine bring us different elements of the human condition. They are real characters, the neighbors next door to you, your best friend or spouse, your family. This is one great quality of the book, these characters who are real people: Henry stares out at the bay, at the skinny spruce trees along the edge of the cove and it seems beautiful to him, God's magnificence there in the quiet stateliness of the coastline and the slightly rocking water.These stories glide. With each story, you are placed within a character's mind, you sense, for instance, his or her heartbreak and lost love:You couldn't make yourself stop feeling a certain way, no matter what the other person did. You had to just wait. Eventually the feeling went away because others came along. Or sometimes it didn't go away but got squeezed into something tiny, and hung like a piece of tinsel in the back of your mind. It is the way in which the story moves. Any other less-crafted book could have been a hundred pages longer. Not this one, because Strout weaves in and out of time deftly, transitioning through characters' lives with ease, giving the story grace. And it only takes her a few sentences to do so. The artful brevity that makes short short story collections work, is what makes this novel work. Things are slow when necessary, slow enough for you to once again capture a character's inner thoughts at a moment when some discovery that could damage a lifelong partnership, has been made:In the darkness and the silence of the car, she felt some knowledge pass between them. And it had been sitting there in church with them, too, like a child pressed between them in the pew, this thing, this presence, that had made its way into their evening.The more I read, the more I realized that this was a book deeply human; a book showcasing ordinary lives to show us how much we need to learn about ourselves, about each other. Love is a central theme here. So is grief, for all over the town, quiet grieving is taking place. There is also loneliness, forgiveness, acceptance--the importance of partnership. And what is special is how each character embodies the themes, how each character is somehow teaching a life lesson: She remembered what hope was, and this was it. That inner churning that moves you forward, plows you through life the way the boats below plowed the shiny water, the way the plane was plowing forward to a place new, and where she was needed.

  • Saleh MoonWalker
    2018-12-21 07:25

    Onvan : Olive Kitteridge - Nevisande : Elizabeth Strout - ISBN : 140006208X - ISBN13 : 9781400062089 - Dar 270 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2008

  • Vanessa
    2018-12-27 07:06

    This is the type of writing that makes my toes curl up. The writing is sheer brilliance. Every sentence is structured to perfection. Capturing slices of life and intricately dissecting small town folk. It’s not the most cheeriest of books, with lots of the themes surrounding depression and suicide. Olive was a hard character to warm up to but once I did, I really did. It shows that no matter where you live, people have the same issues, of loneliness, ageing, sickness, relationships and family troubles and that it’s not confined to big cities. How true the saying there’s no such thing as a simple life. The fact of the matter is that life and its complications are universal. I loved how Olive at the age of 74 could still learn lessons. Big lessons that change her outlook on life and makes her appreciate being alive. Most of this book she imagines her death and seemingly welcomes it. It’s often sad and had a melancholy feel throughout most of the book, making it a hard read at times. The beauty of this book however is the simplicity of telling a story through the many characters. I adored this book and am itching to read more from this incredibly talented author.

  • Seth T.
    2019-01-14 02:16

    I'll begin with my finale, so those who don't want to take the time to read several paragraphs will get the gist of it upfront: Elizabeth Strout strikes me as being an Alice Munro cover band. And with that, my review.Really, my problem in reviewing Strout's collection of short stories is that I didn't hate it or love it. I didn't even like it or dislike it. I'm not in any sense ambivalent toward it. Save for the fact that I'm baffled by its Pulitzer status (and the other fact that I wasted countless minutes actually reading the thing), I'd say that I couldn't be bothered to care about Olive Kitteridge one way or another.So I'm having a hard time mustering emotion enough to make you care about the book one way or other. Instead, I'll just talk about some things I know.I know that Olive Kitteridge is not well-written. It's not awful stuff and is mostly competent, but it's certainly not good. Strout falls into familiar patterns of withholding information in enough of her stories that one comes to expect it. The kind of thing where she'll open with "After Event X, nothing was ever the same again" and then keep the reader in the dark over what the event actually was, only revealing the nature of the event pages past the point at which anyone could continue to care. She deposits point-blank iterations of Chekov's gun in stories—in one case, it's actually a gun too—telegraphing story intention with painful clarity. She does that thing that's common in comic books where a character in the midst of some unbelievably implausible circumstance remarks (with a figurative nudge-and-wink) that the circumstance is unbelievably implausible and were it not really happening, people would be certain it was the product of bad fiction. (Only she's not writing a comic book. And it's cliched and unfunny even in comics.) And she reintroduces Olive and her circumstance with tedious frequency. I realize that several of these stories were written years ago, but some editing for flow would have been awesome.On the other hand, I know that Olive Kitteridge develops its characters generally pretty well. Especially its secondary characters, the ones who inhabit the book for only the space of a chapter or less. Those are the ones to whom Strout breathes life. Suicidal Kevin, jilted Julie, infidelitous Harmon. These are the people I wished the book would have continued with. Strout builds them into characters of interest and one wonders how they might recover from their stories.I also know that if the state of Maine has the means and opportunity, they should ban Strout from entry or residency. Strout paints a picture of Maine that makes it perhaps the least likely target for any of my future vacationing plans. And I certainly wouldn't ever choose to live there if the author's portrait is in anyway accurate. Essentially, if Olive Kitteridge is to be believed, the state is built out of a) crazy and b) infidelity. I think perhaps it was only the final chapter that was free of the stuff. It got to the point where I'd begin a new chapter and sigh audibly a couple pages in and then explain to my wife that I was reading another chapter about another person whose quietly (or even not so quietly) insane.I know that I did appreciate Strout's empathy for the aged. She brings to mind several of the difficulties and problematic philosophies of life that those of advanced age may surely feel if they are a) crazy or b) miserable. Reading Olive Kitteridge brought me forcefully to the conclusion that should I grow old, I honestly will beg with my mind to be forged of neither of these two (apparently common in Maine) characteristics. This is also a book that will be popular Christmas gifts from elderly parents to their grown-and-moved children, because nothing says Christmas Spirit like 270 pages of paperback guilt trip. I also know that had this book not been assigned reading, I would have put it down after maybe the fourth chapter and probably never gotten around to finishing it. It wasn't so much that it was bad as it was just plain not that compelling a read. I never cared for the story of the title character and knowing that the side characters wouldn't be returning left me nowhere to hang my hat. And there isn't really anything going on in the book beyond the surface elements of the very-disjointed story, so Strout really needed to make Olive's character and story sing.And it just didn't.And this brings me to the final thing I know and that I've already kind of given away from the start. I know that I feel like Elizabeth Strout is an Alice Munro cover band. She's probably alright if you're a fan of the real deal but for some reason can't get the real deal. Like you wanted to hear the Scorpions play "Rock Me Like a Hurricane" but you're on a party boat and all you've got is Scrantonicity II to play Scorpions hits. It might scratch your itch or it might not. Of course, for those who were never big fans of the Scorpions, you'll probably be up on deck for the entire set.That's me. I wish I had been up on deck reading some Paul Auster or Murakami or, heck, even some A.A. Milne while Olive Kitteridge played to the drunken several on the deck below.

  • William1
    2018-12-24 06:30

    Exquisite. A beautiful balance of images. All the senses deftly deployed in the description of action. At the same time, a nonlinear storyline, jumping about over a span perhaps of 25 years. Yet the book is a mousse of a confection, its execution so light, so assured. Moreover, it is a novel of stories. I can only remember this being done so well one other time in my broad reading experience, that was in Cynthia Ozick’s The Puttermesser Papers. (See my review.) Great mastery of pattern and theme. No subject is ever nailed too directly on the nose. Strout has this wonderful way of sliding obliquely into her subject matter which merits closer study. Another surprising aspect of the book is what she chooses not to pursue. There’s a line in Martin Amis’s London Fields in which the narrator, who is also a writer, says “one-hundred decisions on every page.” Strout’s writing is so engaging that even her omissions leave a resonance of expunged information, if one may put it that way. (Hemingway wrote fascinatingly about the effects of deliberate omission in his fiction; see his Selected Letters: 1917-1961.) Please read Olive Kitteridge. Then stream Lisa Cholodenko’s 4 part HBO mini-series with Frances McDormand as Olive.

  • Cheri
    2019-01-17 05:13

    Olive Kitteridge is opinionated, domineering, judgemental, interfering and needy. Her husband Henry is gentle, timid and kind. Their life in a small town in Maine is complex, sad, and seemingly incomplete. Olive spends most of her time bitter and sad. Olive is the woman whose cold, offensive manner is an embarassment, Henry is the man whose expression always seems to be carrying an apology about his wife’s behavior. Their son spends his life hoping for an apology from at least one of his parents. The various personalities in the thirteen chapters of this book fade in comparison to Olive Kitteridge. Olive’s life has not turned out the way she had hoped, and it would seem that this is the one thing that almost everyone from Crosby, Maine has in common. While the level of despair varies from chapter to chapter, person to person, with Olive present, it’s never really completely out of the picture. The characters are somehow disarmingly charming as various adversities befall them, their misfortunes reach out and grab hold and pull another Crosby-dweller into the story for a peek into their life. Through Strout’s beautifully written intermingled stories she explores the characters of Crosby, Maine, exposing their emotions with depth and sharing every moment of sadness, loneliness, anger and disappointment as if they were their shadow.

  • Marilyn C.
    2019-01-08 09:21

    4.5 StarsI fell in love with Elizabeth Strout's writing last year when I read My Name is Lucy Barton. She has the ability to write on the essence of people's lives and can write on a deeper level of awareness into everyday life struggles. In the thirteen stories that make up Olive Kitteridge, Strout showed me once again her ability to connect all of us to each other. Even by the end of book, the grouchy, Olive Kitteridge had shown a side of herself all of us can relate to. The only reason I did not give this book the full five stars was that I felt some of the stories did not hold my complete attention. Still, it was a very compelling and thought provoking read.

  • Sara
    2018-12-25 06:10

    When I began this book, I was unsure how I was going to like it. The first story was interesting and I felt I had gotten to know Henry, but then it was over and the second story seemed to have little to do with the first. However, as the book progressed, I found myself loving the depth of the characters in the vignettes and the recurring characters of Olive and Henry that popped in and out, sometimes as full players and sometimes as sidebars.Olive is one of those characters we hate to have anything in common with. We don’t want to recognize her, or relate to her, or think she mirrors us in any way, but we do. I did not like Olive, but I understood her far better than I like to admit. I wanted to ask her to look in the mirror and try to see what others saw when they looked at her. She lived in denial, it was her survival mechanism, and she paid a penalty that was painful at times to behold.Strout is an excellent writer and beneath her eloquent prose are important messages and insights."...after all, life was a gift--that one of those things about getting older was knowing that so many moments weren't just moments, they were gifts. And how nice, really, that people should celebrate with such earnestness this time of year. No matter what people's lives might hold (some of these houses they were passing would have to hold some woeful tribulations), still and all, people were compelled to celebrate because they knew somehow, in their different ways, that life was a thing to celebrate."She understands the dynamics between people, how complex relationships are, how hurtful just living can be, and how lonely it is sometimes, even in the company of others. In the end, I thought the style in which the story was presented was inspired. It allowed us to see so many characters up-close, to get a sense of the community at large, and still to feel we had made the trip with Olive alone.

  • Camie
    2018-12-23 09:31

    This Pulitzer Prize winning book has mostly good but mixed reviews, and I can understand that It wouldn't appeal to everyone. Since next month I will be one more year ( alarmingly !!!) closer to 60 and have been married 34 years, I'm guessing I'm the perfect demographic for this book. Though titled Olive Kitterigde after the matronly, retired math teacher with a rather brusque side , quite a few of the 13 interrelated stories are about other folks who share the same hometown of Crosby, Maine with her, some of whom are just casual acquaintances. The common thread that binds seems to be the fact that though given differing situations, everyone here appears to be struggling to find their place in the world. This book is chalk full of insight, but if you've never lived it you probably won't see it. Some themes here are aging, aging spouses, long marriages ( in one story described as a long complicated meal followed by a lovely dessert ), grown children, and life's joys and disappointments. In one story Basket Of Trips, even as the husband is dying, the couple pulls from the closet a basket of travel brochures and plans where they will travel next, knowing full well this will never come about. Yes, these stories are about people trying to figure out ways to get through the next day, week, or year, and they're realizing the way that their choices earlier in life have come back to make a lasting effect on ( or in a few cases haunt) them. This was a Wow of a book for me which I would highly recommend to my fellow seniors. 5 stars

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-01-17 05:09

    Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Stroutتاریخ نخستین خوانش: نوزدهم فوریه سال 2011 میلادیعنوان: آلیو کیتریج؛ نویسنده: الیزابت استروت (استراوت)؛ مترجم: احسان شفیعی زرگر؛ سما قرایی؛ تهران، قطره، 1389؛ در 394 ص؛ شابک: 9786001191596؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، گیسا، 1394؛ در 426 ص؛ شابک: 9786006885575موضوع: داستانهای کوتاه از نویسندگان امریکایی - قرن 21 مآلیو کیتریج مجموعه سیزده داستان کوتاه به هم پیوسته است. این داستانها در شهر ساحلی کوچکی در ایالت مًین در امریکا میگذرند، و حلقه ی اتصال آنها شخصیت معلم بازنشسته ای، به نام: آلیو کیتریج است. برخی از منتقدان معتقدند این کتاب را میتوان رمانی در قالب داستانهای کوتاه دانست؛ و شاید تاکید بر اینکه مجموعه ای از داستانهای کوتاه است، تا حدی گمراه کننده باشد. برخی نیز آن را فاقد ویژگیهای رمان میدانند. در شناسنامه کتاب، آنجا که معمولاً ذکر میشود: «رمان»، یا «مجموعه داستان»، به کلمه ی: «داستان» اکتفا شده است. به هر حال این داستانها کاملاً مستقل هستند، هرچند میتوان آنها را به صورت فصلهای یک رمان خیال کرد. استراوت در گفتگویی در این باره گفته است: نوشتن «آلیو کیتریج» با این فرم، تصمیمی بود که در طول زمان شکل گرفت. نخستین داستان آلیو را سالها پیش نوشتم، و همان زمان فهمیدم، این شخصیت روزی کتابی از آن خود خواهد داشت. آن موقع نمیدانستم این کتاب چه فرمی پیدا میکند، ولی پس از آنکه صحنه های بیشتری را نوشتم، احساس کردم آلیو چنان حضور نیرومندی دارد که بهتر است داستان او اساساً اپیزودی باشد. از طرفی به زاویه دید هم خیلی علاقه دارم، و دیدن آلیو از نگاه دیگران، به خوانشگر امکان میداد تصویر کاملتری از او به دست بیاورد. پایان نقل. آلیو کیتریج: معلم ریاضی بازنشسته بدخلقی ست، که با داروساز آرامی به نام: هنری ازدواج کرده؛ شخصیتی که از همسرش محبوبتر است و خوانشگر تا پایان کتاب با او بیشتر از همه شخصیتها آشنا میشود. آلیو و هنری یک فرزند دارند؛ پسری به نام: کریستوفر، که وقتی از دانشگاه فارغ التحصیل میشود و برمیگردد، نزدیک خانه خودشان برایش خانه ای میسازند. امیدوارند کریستوفر با زنی از اهالی همان شهر ازدواج کند و نوه دار شوند. ولی زنی که کریستوفر با او ازدواج میکند، تشویقش میکند به سن فرانسیسکو رخت بکشند. کمی بعد که همسر کریستوفر از او جدا میشود، آلیو با خوشحالی فکر میکند پسرش حالا به خانه برمیگردد. ولی او ترجیح میدهد در کالیفرنیا بماند، و دل مادرش را بشکند. آلیو و هنری گاهی در کانون کنش داستانی هستند، و گاه در حاشیه داستان میچرخند. ناشکیبایی، پشیمانی و حتی نفرت در زندگیشان ریشه دوانده است. استراوت با موشکافی و ظرافت مسائل زندگی آنها را به خواننده منتقل میکند؛ هنری سرش را بلند کرد و گفت: «میدونی، آلی» چشمهایش خسته بود و پوست دورشان قرمز شده بود، «در تمام این سالهایی که از ازدواجمان میگذره، در تمام این سالها فکر نمیکنم حتی یک بار هم معذرت خواسته باشی. برای هیچ چیز.» آلیو حسابی سرخ شد. احساس میکرد پوست صورتش زیر آفتاب میسوزد. گفت: «خب، معذرت، معذرت، معذرت.» و عینک آفتابی اش را که گذاشته بود بالای سرش، برداشت و دوباره به چشم زد. پرسید: «میخوای چی بگی؟ از چی دلخوری؟ اصلاً این حرفا واسه چیه؟ عذر خواهی؟ خب، من معذرت میخوام. معذرت میخوام که همچین زن مزخرفی هستم.». آلیو زنی ست با جثه درشت، مستعد حالتهای ناگهانی، و خشم آلود است، غالباً در قضاوت عجله میکند و عصبانی ست، و آزردگیهای عمیقش را به سرعت بر زبان میآورد. دوست داشتنی نیست. با کلماتی مثل: «خنگ»، و «ابله»، «دست و پا چلفتی» دیگران را فراری میدهد. پسرش کریستوفر، تلاش میکند از حضور سلطه جوی او بگریزد، و دچار افسردگی است. یکی از زنهای مسن شهر میگوید: «در رفتار آلیو مطلقاً جایی برای عذرخواهی وجود نداشت.». هرچه داستانها پیش میرود، تصویر آلیو پیچیده تر میشود. او میتواند سرً پسرش فریاد بزند و به او دشنام بدهد، ولی در عین حال دوستش دارد، آنقدر که از تحملش بیرون است. شوهرش مرد مهربانی است، و آلیو او را هم دوست دارد، گو اینکه ابراز علاقه برایش آسان نیست. همان قدر که ناگهان از کوره درمیرود، یکباره میزند زیر خنده، و دلش حتی برای غریبه ها هم میسوزد. الیزابت استراوت شخصیت آلیو کیتریج را در همه داستان ها، حتی شده خیلی کوتاه، به صحنه میآورد، و خوانشگر رفته رفته متوجه میشود این قطعات مستقل و به دقت پرداخت شده روی هم چرخه روایتی را شکل میدهند، که چیزی نیست جز داستان زندگی آلیو کیتریج. استراوت میگوید: «شخصیت آلیو برای من از همه شخصیتهای دیگر کتاب جذابتر است. وحشی، پیچیده، بامحبت و بی رحم است. در واقع کمی از هر کدام ما در او هست.»؛ پایان نقل از روزنامه اعتماد البته با ویرایش. ا. شربیانی

  • M
    2019-01-06 10:20

    Eh.Strout is such a good writer that when I heard she had a new one out I went to buy it without even knowing the title, let alone the plot. And while she is still a wonderful writer, she seems to have reduced herself (prematurely, I would hope) to the pre retirment plan of Maeve Binchy; the incredibly unpleasant world of the multiple narrative novel.Her characters are sketched very well and her use of language pulls you in, but I really hate these snippets that aren't short stories, aren't novels - so what are they? Characters I meet briefly but in the context of a longer work so that the impact is all the more contrived, and one or two recurring people who become so tiresome and (Olive in particular) really unlikeable that you feel cheated for having this be the protagonist. It's very hard to feel attached to a book like this, and I would've minded less if it had been a book of short stories.I gave it three stars because it is still very readable and maybe if you know going in what the deal is it is less bothersome. The other drawback though is that it's really depressing - there is a thread of suicide running throughout as well as an emphasis on loneliness, and Oliva can really really be hateful, and Strout's attempts to make her sympathtic come way too late in the work.

  • Barbara
    2019-01-06 02:10

    Elizabeth Strout has penned a beautiful book, which has left me deeply pensive and tearful. I am not generally attracted to the short story, but this is not truly of that genre. It is a series of vignettes, many of which have Olive Kitteridge as the main character. Each story is about the inhabitants of Crosby, Maine, a small seaside village, all with complicated tales of their own. Olive is ever present, even fleetingly,to tie the people to her in some manner.When I first started reading, my thoughts kept reverting to John Mortimer's Rumpole, who referred to his wife as "she who must be obeyed". However, as I became better acquainted with Olive, I began to view her as a much more complex individual. Strout has adeptly painted the picture of an overly critical, irritable and intractable woman. She vacillates between being overly controlling to exerting an apparent desire to be helpful and needed. Strout has succinctly developed the psychology of this aging, lonely woman, who in her frequent fault-finding of others has failed to see her own errors. When she does view them, she feels helpless to mend her ways. She is a tragic, lonely woman. As the stories continue, Olive begins to view life with a more tender awareness and some constructive actions.There is so much more that can be stated about this wonderful book, but it is essential to give praise to Elizabeth Strout for this tender, sad and thought provoking work of literature. Although I rarely reread a book twice, I believe that this one will return to my shelf soon.

  • BrokenTune
    2018-12-17 03:10

    Olive Kitteridge is an extraordinary book. I had to read the first story quite a few times to get into the characters and the get what Strout wanted to do here. The writing is gorgeous. It must have required considerable effort and discipline to compile the selection of related and yet unrelated stories - all of which involve either Olive Kitteridge or people in her community in a small town in Maine - and yet keep the tone of the stories so even, so understated.There were two aspects of Olive Kitteridge that fascinated me most - and that are inevitably what makes or breaks this book for me:For one, the book focuses on people in the later stages of life. Mostly. It was great to read about characters who were not going through any rites of passage or growth.Hand in hand with this, however, came a sort of bleak realism that made it sometimes difficult to read the stories. It was the sort of realism that does not promise happy endings, and acts as a reminder that reality is often far removed from the hope and dignity which is lent to characters in stories.I was not sure at first whether I liked or disliked this book, and to some extent I still am not sure about this, but I am glad I have read it.3.5*

  • Julie Christine
    2018-12-18 04:15

    You know, it really was a coincidence that I picked this up at the library the day after the HBO miniseries won something at the Emmy awards. I'm late to the Olive Kitteridge party because I never intended to go in the first place. But there I was, in-between reads, waiting for all the books I'd requested to arrive at the library (which they nearly all did in a single day, three days later) and here was Olive Kitteridge, sitting on a rotating rack of paperbacks that you can borrow on the honor system. It was slim, it had the gold Pulitzer Prize seal, the library was moments from closing, and who can leave the library empty-handed? So, Olive Kitteridge came home with me for a couple of days. Hey Mikey! I liked it!!Earlier generations had Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio to illustrate slices of Americana pie; we have Elizabeth Strout's Crosby, Maine. Her technique—the weaving together of individual stories with repeating characters and a common setting—is not unique, of course, but her empathy, poignancy, and clear-eyed storytelling are as fresh and bracing as a salty spring wind blowing off the Atlantic. "Soul custody" is one character's heartbreaking malaprop, but it so perfectly captures what happens here, in the hours we give ourselves over to this town and its residents, particularly its eponymous protagonist. Soul custody, indeed. Olive Kitteridge is the collection's axis. The book is comprised of thirteen vignettes that are like tilts of a kaleidoscope: each offering a different way of looking at life in a place that seems to change very little from a distance, but when you look more closely, emotional fortunes are made and lost with the changing tides. Olive herself is maddening and endearing. How to understand the tenderness you can feel for a woman who would beat and belittle her only child, then wonder in mealy-mouthed resentment why he would chose not to stay near her as he matures and creates his own life? That is the magic of Strout's character development, the way she is able to inhabit Olive's heart and head: you see a complete woman, with all her flaws and her ungracious attempts at humanity. And this deep character empathy is true for everyone we meet in Crosby, ME (and in a foray to New York City): in these brief moments, so much is shown and learned about an aging lounge singer/piano player whose hair is dyed shade too crimson; a young girl whose flesh and muscle wither away because she simply will not, cannot eat; a young man on the verge of emotional collapse as he trains a gun on four hostages locked in a hospital bathroom; an older married man on the troubling border of fatherly concern and a lover's yearning for a young woman in crisis. This book, despite its emphasis on life's unkindnesses, is so empathetic and humane that it is impossible to remain in despair. It is an acknowledgment that to feel life, to feel it deeply, is terrifying. It is also irresistible. And it's impossible to read Olive Kitteridge and not crave doughnuts.

  • Justin
    2019-01-06 06:29

    This story is told in a series of short stories that sometimes feature Olive, but most of the time she appears briefly in a conversation or in the background somewhere. I love the story because it made me think about my relationship with my family and my friends, my acquaintances, people I see every day that I really don't know at all. It made me think about our connectedness and how important those relationships are, and how sometimes people have this perception about us or we have a perception about them that may not be accurate. I thought about how I impact the lives of others and how things that seem insignificant in my day could have a major impact on the lives of others. I wondered if I ever come up in a casual conversation between other people while they wait to see a movie or go out for pizza on Friday night. I thought about how I have perceptions of others are work or in my neighborhood, but I usually talk about them instead of to them. The end of the book reminded me of how I moved away from home a while ago and how my decisions and lifestyle must make my mom feel or how she often reminds me of an old story about me when I was five years old even though I haven't been five years old in a long time. I really liked this book not because it was well written, but because it made me think about my own life and examine some of the decisions I've made and the people I've interacted with. I don't even know if that's what the author intended, but that's where I went. This is seriously the longest stream of nonsense I've tried to disguise as a review, but I'm going with it... Four stars. Recommended. Time to watch the HBO miniseries.