Monday, May 18, 2020

Book Review - Olive Kitteridge; Elizabeth Strout

TITLE:  Olive Kitteridge
AUTHOR:  Elizabeth Strout
PUBLISHER:  Random House Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2008
Setting: Maine
Format: audio download
Rating - 5/5

I originally read this book in 2008 when it was first published but, I don't see that I ever reviewed it. After loving Olive, Again (2020 follow-up) so much, I decided to listen to Olive's debut novel once again. I wasn't disappointed.

This book is written as a series of (13) short stories which take place in and around small town Crosby, Maine.  The stories take place in the 1970s when Olive, once a math teacher is now retired.  Olive has a prickly personality but, I felt like I understood her. She is married to Henry, a pharmacist, and they have one son, Christopher, who she has a strained relationship with.

Each story in this collection gives a bit of insight into the quirky characters of this Maine town where everyone seems to know everyone's business.  Throughout most of the stories, Olive seems to reappear interacting with the central character of the story. Each story has the feel of a real life drama which shares both joys and heartbreaks. I love how this author writes, her characters felt real and complex with issues many have dealt with over the years: family, relationships, mental health issues etc.  All of the individuals come across as unpretentious, the kind of everyday people you might expect to meet in small town Maine.

I was so happy I revisited this book and think I even enjoyed it more the second time around, especially after watching the HBO miniseries and listening to Olive, Again. Olive is one of the characters, I'll never get enough of. Readers who enjoy stories about everyday people should read both books - such a treat.


  1. Great review! I have Olive, Again from Audible, but haven't listened to it yet because I never read Olive Kitteridge, which I also have. Your review makes me want to move them to the top of my list.

  2. This would be a wonderful book to read again. Maybe especially now. As you say, the individual stories reveal ordinary people going about their business and the irascible Olive's interactions with each of them. It was a great way to tell the story which she continued in Olive, Again. I wonder if there will ever be another "Olive," maybe with her in her 80s. I'd sure read that!

  3. I didn't realize there was a mini-series. Loved, Olive Kitteridge and need to read Olive, Again. It's great when a re-read is just as good as the first time right?

  4. I enjoyed this book and thought the mini-series was very good. I'll probably read it again before I read the sequel.

  5. I haven't read this. I have been aware of it for a long time though.

  6. I liked this novel when it came out. I still need to read Olive Again -- sometime this year.

  7. I love Olive, though she is a complete disaster as a human. I didn't think I'd want to read a book two about her (sequels almost always disappoint me) but I was surprised to find that I was glad it was written and glad that I read it.

  8. I was conflicted about this book when I read it. I thought it was very well done, but I had such a difficult time liking Olive!


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