Monday, July 6, 2009

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout~★★★

Author: Elizabeth Strout
Title: Olive Kitteridge
Release Date: March 25, 2008
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Fiction

Book Jacket: "In a voice more powerful and compassionate than ever before, bestselling author Elizabeth Strout binds together thirteen rich, luminous narratives into a book with the heft of a novel, through the presence of one larger-than-life, unforgettable character: Olive Kitteridge.
At the edge of the continent, Crosby, Maine, may seem like nowhere, but seen through this brilliant writer's eyes, it's in essence the whole world, and the lives that are lived there are filled with all of the grand human drama---desire, despair, jealously, hope, and love.
At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive's own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.
As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life---sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition---its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires."

Taryn's Review: Olive Kitteridge was a sad book. I'll elaborate by saying that I didn't really feel any happiness in the book until the very end, but it's so short lived, especially after the book was filled with so much sadness.

No doubt that Elizabeth Strout is a good writer, but again, this book was borderline depressing. Why is no one happy in this world in Crosby, Maine? I am fully aware that it was possible this book went over my head and that could be why I didn't like it, but I just hate that there was so much melancholy in a book.

Olive was very complex, yet she wasn't. I hated her for treating her husband Henry the way she did. I liked how sometimes she stayed in the afterthoughts of her students with her strong advice to them. I hated her for not trying to understand her own son and his views. I liked her for her devotion to Henry, even though it was too late.

I wouldn't read this book if you are looking for happiness at all. I wouldn't classify it as dark, but it highlighted the dreary side that accompanies the lives of humans. How Olive dealt with things is very Olive-like and I think we all know someone who we could classify as Olive Kitteridge. It got my wheels turning, but I didn't completely understand what the author's intent was. It's a one-time read for me, but one that I'm satisfied with in an odd sense.

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