Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Review - Olive Kitteridge

The latest book I completed as part of my goal to read all the Pulitzer Prize winners in fiction was actually a collection of 13 short stories by Elizabeth Strout.

The book is titled after the character who appears in each of the stories, Olive Kitteridge, however she is the central figure in only a few of them. The remaining stories focus on other characters - her husband Henry, their son Christopher, and various friends, neighbors and acquaintances in the small town of Crosby, Maine.

I'm not a big fan of short stories, but I enjoyed this book and the way the stories showed progression of time and how the cast of characters changed yet often overlapped in the various narratives. The thing I didn't really like was that most of the stories were downers [WARNING - spoilers ahead!] - a young girl with an eating disorder who dies despite attempts to help her, Henry's stroke that leaves him blind and speechless, Christopher's divorce, the young boy who wanted to shoot himself because he had seen the aftermath of his mother's suicide. Somehow the author wove all these tales together so that by the end of the book I felt that I knew Olive and sympathized with her despite her rather stern and irrational personality. This was an easy read and a well crafted selection of stories.


  1. Funny you should review this - I saw it on the shelf at my bookstore the other day and was about to pick it up and skim through it when something else caught my eye and distracted me. I'll have to try and get a hold of it from my library.

  2. I loved this book, though I agree, the stories could be a bit dark. One thing I really liked was the way the short stories were linked together by Olive's presence in them.

  3. I don't often read books of short stories, bit I can see where it might be handy when you don't have a lot of time for reading and want something quicker. I'll add this one to my list.


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