Thursday, October 1, 2009

Book Review: Olive Kitteridge

Greetings! I haven't done a book review in quite awhile! But I have a great one to review today. My friend Katie and I are starting a book club this month and we selected Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout for our first meeting. Katie had read it and loved it so I couldn't wait to dig in. That is a picture of my copy of the book to the left - check out all the post-it flags I used! I originally planned to borrow this book from Katie, but have decided that I need a copy of my own so purchased a copy to give back to her. Plus it got a little beat up on my trip to and from Chicago.

I had read Amy and Isabelle, which was also written by Strout, when I was in high school and loved it. This book was even better. It's basically a collection of short stories that are tied together by a central character in the book - Olive Kitteridge. Truth be told, I am usually not a huge fan of short stories, but I loved this book. Strout really delves into the intricacies of relationships - from husband/wife to parent/child to friend/friend. She writes some things so subtly - in other words, she doesn't dumb it down and tell you everything, she lets you figure it out by her use of language.

I will say that Olive is definitely not a likeable character, but the book works despite the fact that she is so unlikeable! She's reaching the end of her life and is pretty bitter about a lot of things. She's always looking to blame someone else and doesn't utter the words, "I'm sorry" or "That's my fault" very often. She's kind of a curmudgeon. I think we probably all know people who have similar characteristics. But she does evolve, to some extent, by the end of the book.

I won't tell you much more as I don't want to spoil it for you, but here are a few of the passages that I marked to re-read:

  • "You couldn't make yourself stop feeling a certain way, no matter what the other person did. You had to just wait. Eventually the feeling went away because others came along. Or sometimes it didn't go away but got squeezed into something tiny, and hung like a piece of tinsel in the back of your mind." (p. 57)
  • "She took a deep, quiet breath and thought how she did not envy those young girls in the ice cream shop. Behind the bored eyes of the waitresses handing out sundaes there loomed, she knew, great earnestness, great desires, and great disappointments; such confusion lay ahead for them, and (more wearisome) anger; oh, before they were through, they would blame and blame and blame, and then get tired, too. (p. 139)
  • "People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it." (p. 162)

I highly recommend this book. If you read it, tell me what you think of it! I can't wait to see what the other girls in the book club think of it. We are meeting at the end of this month!


Nora said...

The last quote is my favorite!

Thanks for sharing them with us =)

Amber said...

Oh that last quote IS a good one!

I don't usually like collections of short stories but this one sounds interesting, I will have to check it out!

Lisa-Marie said...

I am going to get this tomorrow, as tomorrow is pay day, and therefor the day in which I treat myself to two full-prices books(having worked in a discount bookshop I tend not to pay full price for books, and I love charity shops and second-hand shops). The other one will be the new Anita Shreve, as I love her.

Anonymous said...

Oh! Amy and Isabelle! Now you have helped me place the author! It's been bugging me so much that I keep seeing Olive Kitteridge and know that I recognize something about it...I loved Amy and Isabelle, so I'll have to pick this up.

Abby said...

That will definitely go on my "to read" list! I loved Amy & Isabelle. And this sounds very interesting!

I really liked how you put up some favorite quotes from the book. Makes it even more enticing to read! :)

Mandy said...

I love that last quote. I'm adding this to my "to-read" shelf in good reads immediately. Thanks for the reccomendation.

Nicole said...

The last collection of short stories that I read I didn't like very much. But I think that was mostly because I didn't see the connection between them. I might have to read this one since there is a connection.