Book Review: Olive Kitteridge

Good morning all! As promised, here is my book review of Olive Kitteridge. And I am flying through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That one shouldn’t be too far behind! Have a great weekend. Today is technically my Friday and I am pumped. 🙂

Olive Kitteridge

By: Elizabeth Strout

This Pulitzer Prize winning book has a different narrative style than most of the novels I typically read. It is broken up into several separate stories, told by different narrators. The only commonality between all the stories is Olive Kitteridge.

So, who is Olive? Well, she is a large woman, who is a wife and a mother, and tends to present a hard demeanor with resolute ideas and principles. I found her to have many characteristics as I learned about her throughout the stories. She was a bit judgmental at times, strong-willed and powerful in some stories, very vulnerable in others, a voice of reassurance and strength in a few, and even somewhat annoying here and there.

Each story is told by a different author and although at first I thought I’d need to remember all these people because they would show up later in the book and everything would tie together – that is not so. These characters do not serve as a plot device, they serve as the lense through which we gain a better view and understanding of Olive. She is the only person that is the constant and returning idea throughout the book.

It took me a while to understand the flow of the book and what I needed to retain and focus on. About one-third of the way through, I finally got it and began to enjoy the book more. It was hard for me to really like or dislike Olive, I think because she was crafted to feel like a real person. And real people have both positives and negatives to them. In one story, I would find myself siding with Olive and then in the next I would wonder what the heck she was doing and become annoyed or angry with her.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I wouldn’t say it’s the most exciting in terms of plot or intricate story lines—it is definitely more about character development and understanding. I came to feel that I understood Olive on so many different levels and watched as she passed through various phases of her life. It was also a nice change of pace, as far as the way the book was set up. I enjoyed each unique slice of life in every chapter once I realized that was how it was set up.

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6 responses to “Book Review: Olive Kitteridge

  1. Great review! When I started this book, I thought Olive was awful! But by the end, I really enjoyed reading about her.

  2. So glad you finally settled into the book and enjoyed Olive. I felt the same way in the beginning until I realized it was just Olive that I should concentrate on. I did however miss some of the people I was introduced to along the way and wondered what became of them?

  3. I read this one a year or so ago and really liked it. Didn’t you hate Olive at the beginning? But then you learn to understand her and appreciate her as the story goes on. I’m also reading Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and loving it!

  4. Thanks for the review. I am about halfway through this book and have been driving myself crazy trying to keep the characters straight – I actually drew a sort of family tree! Glad I can just finish the book without trying to figure out who might show up again and why.

  5. I agree…it took me a few stories to realize how the book was set up and that we weren’t going to revisit the characters. I liked the book and I agree with your assesment of Olive. At times I liked her, at times I didn’t. Sometimes I related to her and sometimes I was annoyed by her. I thought it was a brilliant way to write a story about someone’s life though. I really liked it…while true that I may never read it again (as it wasn’t the most exciting book I have ever picked up) I did enjoy it and I would (and do) reccomend it to people.

  6. Love your site. Had to check it out when I seen the name on Tina’s blogroll. I LOVE books!! If only I could live my life at a bookstore and get paid for it…still waiting for a book publisher myself…course I’d have to write the book…but I can dream ! 🙂

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