Olive Kitteridge

By Elizabeth Strout,

Book cover of Olive Kitteridge

Book description

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • The beloved first novel featuring Olive Kitteridge, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah’s Book Club pick Olive, Again
“Fiction lovers, remember this name: Olive Kitteridge. . . . You’ll never forget her.”—USA Today

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Why read it?

11 authors picked Olive Kitteridge as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Elizabeth Strout is a master of character, and this cycle of linked stories, which takes place in the coastal town of Crosby, Maine, is no exception; following the eponymous Olive over several years, she appears as a major character in some stories, and a minor one in others.

I grew up in a small town beside the ocean, and Strout’s descriptive powers transported me to the salinated air and buoy-knocked waters of my youth.

But it’s her observations about human nature, filtered through the town’s tight-knit community, that makes the book so powerful. She examines questions that haunt us all:…

From Alina's list on exploring how place shapes community.

As a writer of short fiction and novels, I absolutely love Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel-in-stories Olive Kitteridge

When I finished the book, I immediately began rereading it–to marvel, again, at the masterful craft on display, such as Strout’s handling of time and description, but above all to savor her depth of psychological insight. The thirteen narratives, each in some way involving Olive, hold within them the many colors of human experience ranging from quiet states of joy in the ordinary to the quietly agonizing hells of loneliness, disappointment, fear, and loss. 

And the character studies dramatize just…

Olive Kitteridge is one of my favorite fictional characters—not because she’s likable (she often isn’t), but because she feels so real.

She is impatient, stubborn, often downright caustic. But she can also be softhearted, sensitive, and insightful. In many ways, Olive reminds me of some of the best Maine women I know, capturing the New England spirit of hard work and blunt language that seamlessly coexists with tenderness and humor.

Strout’s other characters in this book are just as relatable, and she does an incredible job of showing another quality prevalent throughout Maine: keeping your secrets and emotions to yourself,…

From Shannon's list on capturing the Maine experience.

Off Season

By Randy Kraft,

Book cover of Off Season

Randy Kraft Author Of Off Season

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Who am I?

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Randy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

When Sharon's ex-husband, Red, invites her to join him for a winter retreat, she agrees. After all, they've moved past what ails them, and they get on well. She will be on sabbatical fine-tuning a PhD dissertation, and he needs a respite from an illness. Why not enjoy the charms of a southern California beach town off-season?

Soothed by sea breezes, they become fascinated with their mysterious landlord and her late artist partner, Red is befriended by a flirty neighbor and her surfer husband, and Sharon shares her literary passions with a sexy retiree. When the winds of the pandemic blow, they have to confront their past within a daunting future.

Is off-season an opportunity for renewal or a glimpse of what might have been?

Off Season

By Randy Kraft,

What is this book about?

When Sharon's ex-husband, Red, invites her to join him for a winter retreat, she agrees. After all, they've moved past what ails them, she will be on sabbatical fine tuning a PhD dissertation, and he needs a respite from an illness. Why not enjoy the charms of a southern California beach town off season? On the other hand, what else might he have in mind and what will she face if she lets her guard down? Soothed by sea breezes and ocean views, they become fascinated with their mysterious landlord and her late partner, a Fauvist painter. Then, Red is…

We all have a bit of Olive Kitteridge in us.

The book is about an indomitable retired New England school teacher who has lived by the rules and done what was expected of her until midlife when she starts to wake up. Perhaps it was being taken as a hostage or meeting a woman with anorexia and realising they are both ‘starving’. Olive’s world tilts.

She struggles to make sense of her life, suffers regret, and feels she’s failed. Strout employs different characters to tell stories; in some, Olive plays only a tiny part. But the technique deepens our appreciation…

From Pamela's list on extraordinary women.

The Pulitzer-prize winner Olive Kitteridge is a novel told through connected stories, and the sequel is presented the same way.

She’s the character we love to hate and learn to love.

Anyone who has married the wrong man or treated a husband poorly, or attempted to control a child well into his own middle age, or finds herself confused by progress and also struggles with regret, will get Olive. Because we meet her in midlife, we evolve with her into old age, as if an interactive experience.

You'll want to age with Olive in the sequel, Olive Again. I also…

From Randy's list on aging friends and lovers.

Written as a collection of short stories, each depicting crusty Olive Kitteridge in a different scenario, this novel brilliantly portrays a harsh woman who causes me to question why I love her so much. We see Olive’s self-awareness and sometimes tender side as she moves through her life. We see her in a relationship with her kind husband and with various townsfolks, always bringing her sardonic honesty. When I read Olive’s story for the first time, I surprised myself by falling l in love with her despite her startling relational gaffs. I believe we all have a little more of…

This is one of the really great books of our time. Olive Kitteridge is an anti-protagonist in her own story, a woman who passes through the chapters of this novel, only visiting the tales Strout shares with the reader. She is always present and always peripheral, and the distance that places between us and her somehow seems to help us see this woman with tender clarity.

From Barney's list on collage novels.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout is a collection of stories all set in the fictional small Maine town of Crosby. We meet various residents and learn of their own dramas but it is Olive who is at the epicenter. Everyone knows this difficult, stern, grumpy, maddening woman, a retired schoolteacher. Yet as the book goes on we gain deep insight into Olive. Under her gruff exterior is a woman of empathy, real emotions, and humor. Through the townspeople of Crosby, we learn who the real Olive is and I was completely won over. I came to understand and love her.…

This is a collection of connected stories that meanders through the life and times of a community in small-town America. The writer takes her scalpel and peels back the layers of ordinary lives to find the drama and tragedy, the sacrifice and courage within. This book is an enormous canvas of life made up of tiny fragments.

The different stories span out like spokes in a wheel, and at its hub is Olive, teacher of mathematics, wife to the local pharmacist, lover of donuts. She is feared by her students and given a wide birth by people in the town…

What connects all the stories in this collection is the titular Olive, a gruff yet good-hearted middle-aged woman living in Crosby, Maine. Although she appears in every story, the strength of her presence varies greatly—sometimes, she is a main character, other times, she’s a barely visible background character. But always she is present, like a thread tying together the lives of a disparate set of characters from rural Maine.

From Rebecca's list on told in connected short stories.

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