Sunday, May 2, 2010

Olive Kitteridge

Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge follows the title character through thirteen short stories in which Olive plays a role - sometimes as the main character other times, she's just a person mentioned in passing. The stories take place in a small coastal town in Maine. Olive is a retired schoolteacher that most of the children in her classes were scared of. Olive Kitteridge won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009.

A part of me is at a loss for words on what to say about this book. Not because it was bad or that it I didn't like it. In fact, I think I liked it too much. I am always impressed when I read a really good short story because it takes so much talent to write a story in a small amount of pages that has the power to get someone invested in the characters and pull at their heartstrings and make them want to know more about that person. Even more so, to have to the ability to make you feel for that person. Elizabeth Strout manages to do this thirteen times and not just with the title character. In each story, she paints pictures of people who are desperate, lonely, harboring secret fears and/or loves. And the thread that weaves each story together is Olive Kitteridge - the gruff, old lady that most people don't really like. I knew by the time I finished the first story (which focused on Olive's husband, Henry - a person that everybody in town loved) that I was reading a great book.  There were times I would read passages and phrases and have to stop and read them again because they were not only beautiful, they were poetic. It took me much longer to read this book than normal because I kept rereading parts of it and savoring the stories. I couldn't read one story and move directly into the next. I had put the book down and think about it for a while. Give the story a chance to sink in with me.  I can definitely see why this book was a Pulitzer Prize winner. It has that extra little something that all writers strive to achieve. 


  1. You've sold me. I gotta read it now. Barnes and Noble, here I come!

    Hope you're well.

  2. Ashley, it's also a Books on the Nightstand recommendation. That's where I heard about it.