I read the whole book, but I was tempted to stop several times. For me, there were too many characters and it made for a confusing read. I'd rather have a book where I do not have to concentrate so hard to keep track of who is doing what. I really did not care for it much and really could not recommend it.
This book appeared on my wish list for a long time. I was excited to receive my copy and eagerly began reading. My excitement began to wane after the first couple of chapters. I appreciate what the author attempted to do through the use of multiple viewpoints, but generally found the story to be quite flat and the characters rather predictable.
This review would probably get me banned from most book clubs in America but, truth be told, I thoroughly disliked this book. My opinion..... A boring book about boring people. I only finished it because we DID read it for our book club. As always, it was a lively discussion, but only one of our members enjoyed it. After hearing the rave reviews, I was at least relieved that I wasn't the only one who didn't like it.
I was looking forward to reading this book due to the great reviews I had encountered. It was on several "best of the year" lists. I really did not like it, yet couldn't put it down. Does that make any sense at all ? I felt that its central theme was, "life sucks and then you die" and this book really depressed me. But it also made me think. Hard. About relationships I have had and am having. It is superbly written. Short story format, which I haven't read since college, but Olive is at least mentioned in every story and it is an interesting way to reveal a character. You will NOT forget Olive for a long time.
My book club read this book. While we had widely varying opinions as to how we felt about Olive and the other characters, we all agreed that this is an extremely well-written book, compelling and difficult to put down until the book is finished. This lent itself to one of the best discussions we have had in several months. I couldn't stop reading the book, even though it is not happy or uplifting - I had a sense of sadness throughout the book. Again, it is very well written, and the technique of telling a series of stories from various viewpoints works. Some are from the vantage point of other members of the community and Olive is a small part of the story; in many others, the story is told from her point of view. This lets the reader discover aspects of Olive's life and personality that you would never learn if the entire book was told from Olive's perspective.
I rated this as a good book. It is more like short stories, some stories told from Olive's perspective, others told by other town folks, with the main character as a part of their story. It was a different format than any book I have read before.
There are quite a few characters which sometime made it confusing,,,,I suggest reading this consistently rather that a lot of starts and stops.
The book was written well and Olive is well-developed when you see her thru the eyes of her community also.
This is a great read. The author really captures the loneliness and conflict that so many people feel. Olive, like all of us, is a mixed bag. She can be cold and rude, but also caring and sensitive. Highly recommend.
Olive Kitteridge is subtitled a "novel in stories". Reading this book is like looking through a family photo album. Each short story is a snapshot portraying life in small town Maine. Strout expertly constructs each snapshot for us with her beautiful prose, adding layer upon layer, and often adding a slight twist at the end of the story which completely changes the picture we thought we were seeing into something we weren't quite expecting at all.
Olive is of course our title character but she isn't always the main character in each short story. In those stories where she is our main character, we get to spend a little time in the head of a woman who is struggling mightily to make sense of her life as she grows older and feels the world moving on without her. In some of the other stories Olive plays a secondary character, in others she's merely an extra in the scene, and in still others she's nothing more than a memory, but she does manage to show up, in some way, in each one. These other stories serve not only to introduce us to some of the other people in the town but also to show us the other sides of Olive's character, thereby letting the reader see that the way we see ourselves is not always the same way that others see us.
Marianna W. reviewed Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories on
Helpful Score: 6
Got a lot of good reviews. I'm not all that into short stories, but this one was cool because all of them were linked by a central character. the character development was great as well. Good for book club discussions!
This book is essentially a group of short stories linked around the title character. The moral lesson of the book is pretty clear--don't judge others because their back stories and secrets are what make them do what they do, whether it's turn to alcohol or adultery. Sometimes this comes through in an elegant manner, sometimes this moral seems to hit you over the head (like in "Starving"). The book was an enjoyable read, kind of like finding out all the gossip you ever wanted to know about the people in your own extended circle. However, I felt like some of the stories got a little formulaic in their telling. Strout loves to start off with a dramatic statement or event without telling us what set it off. It's an effective technique when used sparingly, but it happened so many times in the book it got a little tedious and does kind of force the reader into the corner of having to re-read what happened to see how it all went together. I don't mind reading things a second time if it is warranted, but felt manipulated into reading the entire book through twice. Luckily, it was a good read and Strout writes beautifully, I just got a little tired of having to backtrack so much to get the full picture.
Wonderful prose, not a book for the lonely or depressed people of the world because it's about lonely depressed people. Some nice insights - interesting concept - you get the life of Olive through short stories about her neighbors and townspeople.
boring, boring boring...I like this author (Amy & Isabelle is one of my favorite books) but this was just a flat book. After several chapters of waiting to see if anyone would actually show up in this book, I gave up.....characters are dull, nothing happens and I'm not really sure I care about Olive since she's kind of a secondary character in all of the chapters anyway.
Strout centers her text around Olive Kitteridge and her small-town world. Olive, her neighbors, and her family face contemporary issues, yet they are all struggling to make sense of their changing world--with each generation failing to adequately understand the next. Olive's story is created not only through her own voice but by the impression she leaves on those around her. I enjoyed the format of the changing point of view. Each chapter could be read as its own short story, but together, they make a portrait of an older woman facing the difficulty of her daily existence and the undying hope of tomorrow being a better day.
What an interesting little book I didn't realize it was a book of short stories. If I had known that, I may not have started reading it as I'm too lazy to try to get into a new story every 20-something pages or so, but this book of short stories is quite different. They include Olive Kitteridge and/or the townspeople of Crosby, Maine, where Olive lives, in every story. In that way, it really is a novel, not a book of short stories. You learn about Olive and her life and her quirky ways, her innermost feelings, her anger, her fears, her brutal common sense, and you think hard about life. There were some stories I liked better than others, but all in all, I found myself drawn to this book to read more.
Olive Kitteridge is a recurring character in a string of vignettes about the residents of a small town in Maine. The writing is beautiful; I understand why she was awarded the Nobel for this novel. However, it was very dark, very depressing.
I wasn't sure I would like the format as I generally prefer novels to short stories, but these worked beautifully to slowly show different perspectives of Olive. The writing was great and although lots of sad things occurred, I still left the book with an overall feeling of hope. On the last page we see Olive herself intentionally choosing love. She's a character I won't forget.
One of the most compelling and revelating books I have read in a long time! After each episode I found myself contemplating the narrative, theme, and ultimately the fascinating persona of Olive Kitteridge. A must must read!
I did not like this book. I gave it the first 3 chapters and then gave up. I guess I like books that are a consistent story, not a bunch of little stories that have nothing in common except that the "main" character of the book is mentioned once or twice in the chapter.
This is actually a series of short stories linked only by the fact that Olive is somehow known to the chracters in each, or is in the story herself. It is a wonderful book of very real, believeable, 3D characters. Very nicely written.
I am not a fan of short stories. That said, while I appreciate the technical abilities of the short story writer, I find "shortness" troublesome. Generally, the longer a book is, the more appealing. Consequently, I was initially leery of the descriptions of Elizabeth Strout's newest novel, "Olive Kitteridge," which calls itself "a novel in stories."
Very well written and gives a clearer picture of this one character as seen through the eyes of others, but it was too disjointed for me.
Karla M. reviewed Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories on
Helpful Score: 1
This was a pretty dry book in places, I got it for a literature class. Some of the stories were interesting but I found it hard to like the character of Olive. In the end, I understand her but I still do not like her. It was well-written though.
I went into this book expecting it to be some sort of epic tale and maybe even a little life-changing. It, sadly, was not. I found this book, right from the beginning, to have an overall depressing tone and as I kept reading it just got more depressing. I think this was an espcially poor choice of reading right around the holidays. Each person's "tale" linked back to the main character, Olive Kittredge but not in a major way. For some people she was only their teacher and they might have mentioned her one time. I really wanted the characters to be more "connected" to Olive. Olive was definitely a unique character and I did enjoy a lot of her dialogue. One good thing I can say about this book is that it made me feel a lot more thankful and grateful for what I have in my life and to not take anything for granted. I really do think it addresses some of my deep fears but in the end didn't really make me feel any better about them. It just caused me to think more about them. I won't be passing this book on to anyone else. I don't think it's worth their time.
I had heard so many wonderful things about this book that I bought it from Amazon. I HATED it. It was more like a bunch of short stories about miserable people than a book with a storyline that weaved through throughout. As other reviewers have said, Olive Kittridge is not a likeable person. I couldn't finish the book but of the parts that I read, I'd have to agree.
This book is a picture of a life told in snapshots. A series of short stories that provide glimpses into the life of the central characters. In some parts, I liked the character; in some I didn't - somewhat like real life. I found the book sad througout. Yet, I couldn't stop reading it either.
Rarely do I finish a book I don't like -- this is the exception.
The story is beautifully told -- the author really paints pictures with her words. But I have to admit that I didn't like Olive much, if at all.
tani reviewed Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories on
Helpful Score: 1
I think that to really enjoy this book, you have to approach it as a collection of short stories that have to do with a certain locale, many of which bring in Olive. The writing is very good, the characters very well drawn, and I did enjoy the stories, although I am not a short story fan. On the whole, the book is mildly depressing, and Olive, though we see some of her good points, has a personality disorder. The excellent book "Stop walking on eggshells," by Kreger and Mason, was written for people who have to live with and deal with people like Olive. By the time we reach the chapter entitled "Security," we learn something that makes us look back and think, Ah, so that's what her son had to put up with; that's what alienated him."
This book is very well-written, and does evoke a response from the reader which is the goal of good fiction. Unfortunately, the response is to want to smack the title character upside of her head. Although the book progresses in time, Olive Kitteridge doesn't seem to learn much from the situations the author puts her in. A few of the stories (ones in which Olive is only a very minor character) were worth reading, but on the whole this book was a waste of reading time.
This was a nice little light hearted read and fun to listen to. I even laughed out loud in a few spots. A real slice of life novel. Olive did become a real character for me. I am not quite as old as Olive, but I could really identify w/ her. It wasn't until the last CD that I began to really like her. So much of the beginning introduces you to other people that Olive may interact with; that we don't really get the full fun until the end of the book. I really laughed when she overheard others talking about her and she "got even". And I understood what she meant when she said we were all of us alone.
Thank goodness, I am not the only one who despised this book. I do not know why this made so many Top Book Lists. I totally agree with the previous reviewer who said this book could be summed up as "life suck and then you die." The characters one and all (maybe Olive's husband is the one exception) are unlikeable. Olive is despicable- did the author even like her herself as she was writing this? Olive wasn't even over-the-top grumpy or quirky enough to be amusing. I just hated how she did not connect with anyone and how she kept blaming her own son and husband for things. I lost track of characters and didn't care. The last chapter (vignette?) with the love story is just a ridiculous ending and in no way redeemed any of the characters. Too bad.
I really appreciated the author's construction of this story. The reader will glean a balanced and complete insight into and about the main character with a series of individual stories related from other characters's perspective. I used to work in law enforcement (Deputy Sheriff), so I identified with this approach by the author. Its rather like when you are doing an investigation, each individual interviewed provides a unique perspective and details about your person of interest. Its a really good story, you'll enjoy it.
I actually wasn't as impressed with this book as I expected to be. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it. But I expected to be wrapped up in this book! I would suggest reading it, but also knowing that it is a book of kind of "short stories" each chapter is told by a different community member, all relate to Olive in some way (sometimes in a very very obscure referential way), but other than that it is more a painting of the communities picture.
Read it anyway!
This book explores the lives and loves in a small New England town. It is very well written and the characters are well developed. Although many of the stories are sad, they all send a message and are bound to touch your heart. I imagine that everyone will be able to relate to some of the tales and feel a certain kinship with the characters.
This book does not pull any punches when it comes to its characters, which is what made me enjoy it so much. There are some indelible characters - particularly Olive (obviously) - who you may not like but whom you will come to understand and respect. The author has a great grip on the motivations of the people in these stories.
This was an interesting book because it involved several stories in the same town. Each story involved Olive in some way. She plays very different roles in the stories. In the end, you wither love her or hate her!
Carolyn W. reviewed Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories on
I can't say that I really enjoyed this book. Had it not been our book club's selection, I may not have finished it. It was interesting that each chapter was a story in itself so it was easy to put the book down and come back to it later. I found I didn't like most of the characters and would certainly not like to live in in that town.
I had mixed feelings about this book the entire way through. The writing and technique are beautiful. Strout's telling a tale using mini-tales with a central theme was a unique way of letting the audience make judgements about Olive Kitteridge. I got to feeling depressed a bit at some of the topics in the mini-tales, and, of course, got angry and even outraged at times --- just the way Strout wanted her audience to. I did very much enjoy the little "interview" of Strout and Olive and the end of my copy as it threw out different ways to think about the story and characters. This book would be wonderful for a book club discussion, especially one comprised of people of different ages and walks in life.
A collection of short stories with most involving the not so likable character Olive Kitteridge. A lot of characters to keep track of which is why it is only 3stars. There were some interesting short stories that I thought would be completed later on in the book but were not. Olive is a blunt no apologies type of woman. She is married to a nice man. The stories span their married life. I need to reread sometimes later. I might have some aha moments. Yes I recommend to others to read.
I've always loved the work of Sherwood Anderson who wrote Winesburg, Ohio another short story collection held together by one character. Strout used this technique with great skill and touches as did Anderson on the depth of human misery and potential. I guess maybe I'm becoming more and more aware as I grow older that people are never just one thing, but more a big ball of conflicting things. I loved that this sometimes hard demanding woman began to have her hard edges sanded away by her life and that she is always more compassionate and caring for others than she is of her husband and son. Olive Kitteridge is at once a compassionate yet brutal woman and the truth she shares in the final words of the book,is compelling-- life is always worth living if you jump in no matter how old you are. The more I think about this book, the more I love it. It made me think and not just digest a story with a good feeling in my tummy. That is always the mark of a great book and not one that will be cast aside with sand in it's cover for our children to haul to the dump in years to come.
After reading the blurbs on this book, I expected a character sketch of Olive Kitteridge. The initial characters have only tangential relationships to her. I began to wonder how she would fit in to all these lives.
When she was portrayed interacting with her husband and son, I was prepared to see Olive as the monstrous villain who tied all these lives together. Perhaps she would be the cause of all their miseries?
But the lives multiplied, making it hard at times to keep track of the characters without a spreadsheet. Olive's part in each of them became more complex.
As I headed into the last third of the book, I began to get a recurring, uncomfortable thought--that MY kids would see me in Olive, that my spouse would see me in the woman who never said sorry. I began to get the uncomfortable feeling that what I considered my own "truth telling" might be just as vindictive and self-defensive as Olive's. Maybe I am just as dimly aware of my own reflection as Olive is of her own.
The power of this books comes through the subtlety with which the mirror is held up to our own reflections, through Olive. By the end, I felt mercy for this woman, grappling with her own identity, trying desperately to incorporate the cracks of reality she let in. And I wished the poor soul well. That is the power of these sketches.
I am not sure why this book got the Pulizer. It's not that good. Sure it speaks to a little touched on personal moment with people but it falls short on many accounts. I found Olive to be a bitter, mean character whom too advantage of her friends and relatives. This realization doesn't come for Olive herself till very late in the book and I grew tried of her before then. Not sorry I read it, but it wasn't anywhere near as good as I had hoped.
I have generally been happy with pulitzer prize winning books. I loved both Lonesome Dove & The Road so I thought I'd give this a try.
I'm not one for short stories, but I enjoyed this book. Olive Kitteridge is in each story, sometimes as a centerpiece character & in others a tertiary character. Olive was at times difficult to like & other times funny. Whatever was going on, I found her always compelling. Most of the stories and their characters, I thought, were captivating in their own way. The stories were written with great rhythm & not remotely boring. Ultimately, I felt I got a snapshot in time of the various people in Olive's life and they were often sad, troubled, unhappy but there were also times of joy and love. Even though the positive moments were fleeting, the life many of the characters lived were written in an honest and real manor. I felt these people and their circumstances could really have happened...lost loves, old age, angry children, infidelity, suicidal ideation, new love, grief & just plain neuroses.
I cannot say that this book was my favorite, but it was different, interesting, intriguing. Yes, sad at times, but also uplifting and inspirational in how people picked up & carried on. Some may view this book to be about aging, family or even love. I believe this book's about perseverence-never give up.
I feel a review of the narration is important too since we rely so heavily on the narrator's interpretation of the book. I thought Sandra Burr's narration was quite slow. However, I thought her timing perfect. Listening to her read, I was not distracted but captivated by her. She did not read the book in any particular accent. However, when she did the voices, she used the Maine accent. She also sounded youthful or old when needed. She managed the men's voices quite well too. there were many times that her interpretation of the characters' voices punctuated my positive experience, & made it seem more real.
I really loved reading Olive Kitteridge. She is an honest, down-to-earth person whose problems might be unlike most of our problems, but I don't think she had the medicines to "manage" her moods back in the day as we have now. I thought the author very wise to reveal to the reader that even though a parent loves -- even adores -- his/her child, that child might have a perception of that love which is different from the parent's. The story is endearing, one almost all of us can understand and enjoy.
What a clever and well-written book this is. Most chapters are not about Olive and her family, but are about other people in their small town in New England. However, Olive has had an influence, in some way, on all the residents whose stories are told. The readers' opinions about who Olive is change as each chapter unfolds. Understanding, sympathy, righteous anger, empathy, all the ranges of emotions are brought up by the author. I highly recommend this book.
I thought I was going to love this since it was a pulitzer prize winner, I was disappointed mainly because, just when the story got good, it ended, and onto a whole new story.... I thought is was nicely written, and it did have a good ending.
Liz evidently has a penchant for shootings and suicides. They play several roles in these vignettes about a neurotic small town in Maine; not your average Winesburg, OH. Henry (Olives hubby) is a pharmacist. (How boring is that?) See Henry sell drugs. Olive is a math teacher. (How boring is that?) See Olive nag Henry. See Olive stick her nose into everyones business. Briefly, Olive is an angry, cynical Mrs. Miniver. Much of the action is about other people in the community; Olive only has passing mention in some of these stand-alone stories, yet together they paint a picture of the town. She has transferred Hamilton Bassos Pompeys Head to the shores of Maine. Be prepared to interpolate as none of these stories have a definitive ending.
I loved this book. I enjoy short stories and that is what led me to order the book. I'm always wary of major award-winning books, but Olive and Strout deserved the Pulitzer. I loved that I knew what Olive was thinking privately and saying publicly. It made the stories that focused on other characters' lives and how she affected them so true to life. Olive's interactions confirm that even when we feel or want to be invisible we are, like it or not, taking part in life. Olive reminds us to be grateful, even for the messiness of life.
Sometimes books annoy me when there are blatant grammar and spelling errors. This one did not offend me in that manner. I read the whole thing wondering when I would find why it is so highly rated. I still haven't found out why and have stopped trying to figure it out. Different tastes for different people.
Sometimes I "cast" the major roles in a book, and 'Olive Kitteridge' was an easy cast. She was most definitely Bea Arthur in her roles as Maude or Dorothy. A sensitive interior artfully covered by a crusty exterior. The tale is told in a series of point-of-view vignettes. This is a favorite style for me, and I must take exception to previous reviewers who complain of too many characters to keep straight. If you like point-of-view, you will find 'Olive Kitteridge' a satisfying read.
snowglow reviewed Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories on
All the loss and loneliness in most of these stories creates a dark haunting perspective on life that I generally have no patience for but it's mesmerizing here. The review "animates the ordinary with astonishing force" nails it. The humor and upbeat nature of the last chapter is totally unexpected and redemptive.
As a fiction lover, you will never forget the name...Olive Kitteridge. She's a force to be reckoned with in the small town of Crosby, Maine. She is a stern, but funny, retired school teacher and her story is told in many short stories about the local townspeople. As the jacket says, Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition--its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires. A thoroughly enjoyable book!
I must march to a different drummer! Don't get the good reviews. Disliked the use of the ---- word & so many people to keep track of. How this won the Pulitzer prize is beyond me. All in all a yucky book. I only read half of it & got totally disgusted with the writer's concept of the town's people. This could have been a good drama taken in a different direction. I'll be glad to post it.
In some ways this one reminded me of Wineburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson which I read a few years ago. Olive is a series of short tales about people she knows and incidents in her life while Ohio is a series of short stories about people who live in this small town. There are some interesting sections in Olive that I suspect will stay with me for a long time. 1) I keep thinking about a passage where one of the characters recalled how she referred to her mother who abandoned her as having passed away. After all, the child thought, she passed on a plane and went away (California)! At first she didn't understand why people looked sorrowful. Have always wondered why people use that phrase rather then saying died which is a natural part of life. 2) There's an incident where Olive and her new friend, Jack, are discussing beliefs. Jack calls her a cowboy and after her response he says: "A Republican, then?..." "Oh, for God's sake," she replies, "I didn't say moron. You mean because we have a cowboy for a president? Or before that an actor who played a cowboy? Let me tell you, that idiot ex-cocaine-addict was never a cowboy. He can wear all the cowboy hats he wants. He's a spoiled brat to the manor born. And he makes me puke." And, of course, Jack is a Republican. 3) Finally, she knows that Jack will be a very good friend. "What young people don't know...They do not know that lumpy, aged, and wrinkled bodies are as needy as their own young, firm ones, that love was not to be tossed away carelessly as if it were a tart on a platter with others that got passed around again."
Olive Kitteridge is a very puzzling book to review. From a literary standpoint, this book soars above the rest. Strout's characters are fully formed and I could tell she spent a lot of time developing each character's growth and their plot. Her descriptions are vivid and you can truly picture each scene in your mind. Now from a reader's standpoint, the book was a bit hard to get through. Although admirable, the choice to use different characters viewpoints in each chapter, was somewhat of a hindrance. It becomes a bit overwhelming and I truly couldn't remember each character's individual story, which made later parts of the overall plot confusing as there were references to them. I also found it hard to grasp the true purpose and message of the book because it bounced between so many characters. It almost was more like a compilation of short stories inside a novel. The very last page of this book, though, is so touching and shows such a raw human emotion that I believe every person in the world can relate to. After reading that page, it was easy to look back at each story and see the common thread connecting them all. After saying all that, I would recommend this book for someone who really has the time to sit and read and digest the book; If you do not have that time, I would suggest you choose another book to get lost in.
I enjoyed this book. The authors style was a little different to me. The chapters were made up of different short stories. They all reflected different aspects of the main character Olive. It was interesting to reflect on how everyone interacted with her and saw her, and in so doing how I sometimes see myself.
I always have a book at hand to read if the opportunity presents itself. Most books, I read, enjoy, and then send them on their way. Some books I set aside. These are books that I want to be sure to share with friends and family. Olive Kitteridge is a special book.
I could go into detail about character development and how I liked that Olive wasn't perfect. I could also dredge up my own fond memories of Maine. I think it better that readers just pick up the book and enjoy the stories. It is quite a remarkable book.
I didn't hate this book, but I didn't love it. It was "blah" and I felt detached from the characters (and there were a lot of them!) Might be loved by some, but I enjoy books that have more substance. This book was just okay.
It was well wrote. It wasn't one of those books where you knew what was going to happen a chapter a head of time. The subject matter was a little depressing. It made you see another side of a bitter person.
Not sure what all the fuss was over this book. The main character was not particularly likable, although it was interesting to see her from the perspective of the other characters. I would like to have heard more of Henry's voice, but it was titled Olive Kitteridge, not Henry!