Book Review: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

What’s it about?

Olive Kitteridge: indomitable, compassionate and often unpredictable. A retired schoolteacher in a small coastal town in Maine, as she grows older she struggles to make sense of the changes in her life. She is a woman who sees into the hearts of those around her, their triumphs and tragedies.

We meet her stoic husband, bound to her in a marriage both broken and strong, and a young man who aches for the mother he lost – and whom Olive comforts by her mere presence, while her own son feels overwhelmed by her complex sensitivities.

A penetrating, vibrant exploration of the human soul, the story of Olive Kitteridge will make you laugh, nod in recognition, wince in pain, and shed a tear or two.

My thoughts

This book was a group read for my Meetup group and overall I think successful.  It isn’t a book I would have chosen for myself but one, overall, I did quite like.

At the start I didn’t find Olive to be a very welcoming or likeable character.  She doesn’t seem to have any kind of filter in what comes out of her mouth, at times she has a brutal tongue, but then at times she has a very kind heart – it just took a lot to uncover!

This is a book that feels there’s not much happening and is just plodding along but actually there’s a lot rumbling underneath if you’re prepared to pick it apart.  Think of it as a social commentary of small town America, observations of a community put together in a series of short stories that feature Olive, however, I found the chapters that didn’t feature Olive too heavily the most interesting.  I didn’t find the book to be uplifting at all, it’s mostly very sad, which made it a challenge for me to pick it up.

Although, during the book and more towards the end, Olive’s physical description just kept reminding me of Mrs Doutbfire which I did find quite amusing.  Although, I don’t think it’s supposed to be.

If you enjoy character led books, for example Plain Song via Kent Haruf this will be right up your street

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Author Links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: Purchased
No of pages: 352
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK