Olive Kitteridge

By Elizabeth Strout,

Book cover of Olive Kitteridge

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Why read it?

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

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.

Stout's story is fiction, but we can all see the truth in ourselves displayed by the main character Olive. She never fails to exude the ugly parts while also showing lovable humanitarian features. Olive comes across as not a very nice person, but we somehow fall in love with her. The author introduces us to Olive's life and the characters, who are equally trying to maneuver around who she is as a wife, mother and friend. Olive Kitteridge is also a four-part Netflix original.

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