Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Book Review Club:OLIVE KITTERIDGE


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@Barrie Summy




Elizabeth Strout, winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize, tells the story of a woman's life through thirteen stories in her masterful work, Olive Kitteridge.

The story focuses on the title character, a middle-school teacher in a small Maine town. What is most amazing about this work is how, often through the eyes of others, we come to know a complex woman, and one we do not always like.

Her behavior can be destructive: her husband and son are victimized by it. But she can also be sympathetic and most of all, human. In some of these stories, Olive plays a minor role! But by the end of the book, this approach gives us a very clear picture of the life of an ordinary woman, perhaps indicative of all of us. Strout is a pleasure to read and when you finish Olive Kitteridge, try Amy and Isabelle, her first novel. I love the idea of a novel in stories. It seems to have the advantages of both forms of fiction to me.

15 comments:

Sarah Laurence said...

I absolutely loved this book. Great job of summarizing Olive’s appeal. I read Amy and Isabelle and have mixed feelings about it – more to do with the message than the writing. Stout is a master. Good to see that we got the Maine authors covered this week.

Frank Loose said...

I agree, a really strong collection. Many of the stories that i liked best were the ones where Olive played a minor role, but likes and dislikes are always subjective, and all the stories are indeed strong. This is a book that i have passed on and recommended to many friends --- especially those who don't normally read short stories.

pattinase (abbott) said...

The most clever thing was just that--making her a secondary character. How often in life are we just that. Most of the time.

Frank Loose said...

If you like multiple stories with the same characters, check out Andre Dubus' Dancing After Hours, if you haven't already. Not all the stories feature the same characters, but many do, at various times of life. A terrific collection, though, IMO everything Dubus wrote is worth seeking out and reading and re-reading.

Also, I believe Ellen Gilchrist's Rhoda, A Life in Stories, is a return to an earlier character she featured in Victory Over Japan, her National Book Award collection.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I can see we like all the same books. I adore every story Andre Dubus wrote. Same with Ellen Gilchrist. Been a while for her, hasn't it. And he died such a sad death.

Frank Loose said...

I enjoy many stories/collections while reading them, but find that a lot fade from memory. Not so with Andre Dubus; his stories planted themselves inside me, set down roots.

Richard Robinson said...

I'll be looking for this one!

Christine said...

Thank you for giving me my next book club pick!

pattinase (abbott) said...

A perfect book club choice because it is complex. Sometimes good books are not good book club choices. We're doing it next Tuesday, I'll let you know.
One that went over very well was THE BOOK THIEF.

Fleur Bradley said...

It's on my to-read pile! This sounds like just my type of book.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It really is a great book.

Barrie said...

I'm really interested in seeing how the whole 2nd character aspect pans out. Now I'll have to read this book!

Scott Parker said...

I like the idea of connected stories, a la Winesburg, Ohio. And this sentence really intrigues me: "But by the end of the book, this approach gives us a very clear picture of the life of an ordinary woman."

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Sarahlynn said...

I forgot about this review! Thank you.