- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 30, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812971833
- ISBN-13: 978-0812971835
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1,707 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Olive Kitteridge Paperback – September 30, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Thirteen linked tales from Strout (Abide with Me, etc.) present a heart-wrenching, penetrating portrait of ordinary coastal Mainers living lives of quiet grief intermingled with flashes of human connection. The opening Pharmacy focuses on terse, dry junior high-school teacher Olive Kitteridge and her gregarious pharmacist husband, Henry, both of whom have survived the loss of a psychologically damaged parent, and both of whom suffer painful attractions to co-workers. Their son, Christopher, takes center stage in A Little Burst, which describes his wedding in humorous, somewhat disturbing detail, and in Security, where Olive, in her 70s, visits Christopher and his family in New York. Strout's fiction showcases her ability to reveal through familiar details—the mother-of-the-groom's wedding dress, a grandmother's disapproving observations of how her grandchildren are raised—the seeds of tragedy. Themes of suicide, depression, bad communication, aging and love, run through these stories, none more vivid or touching than Incoming Tide, where Olive chats with former student Kevin Coulson as they watch waitress Patty Howe by the seashore, all three struggling with their own misgivings about life. Like this story, the collection is easy to read and impossible to forget. Its literary craft and emotional power will surprise readers unfamiliar with Strout. (Apr.)
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*Starred Review* “Hell. We’re always alone. Born alone. Die alone,” says Olive Kitteridge, redoubtable seventh-grade math teacher in Crosby, Maine. Anyone who gets in Olive’s way had better watch out, for she crashes unapologetically through life like an emotional storm trooper. She forces her husband, Henry, the town pharmacist, into tactical retreat; and she drives her beloved son, Christopher, across the country and into therapy. But appalling though Olive can be, Strout manages to make her deeply human and even sympathetic, as are all of the characters in this “novel in stories.” Covering a period of 30-odd years, most of the stories (several of which were previously published in the New Yorker and other magazines) feature Olive as their focus, but in some she is bit player or even a footnote while other characters take center stage to sort through their own fears and insecurities. Though loneliness and loss haunt these pages, Strout also supplies gentle humor and a nourishing dose of hope. People are sustained by the rhythms of ordinary life and the natural wonders of coastal Maine, and even Olive is sometimes caught off guard by life’s baffling beauty. Strout is also the author of the well-received Amy and Isabelle (1999) and Abide with Me (2006). --Mary Ellen Quinn --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is one of the most outstanding novels I've ever read. I normally don't reread books, but this one will be the exception. Stout tells small stories about small people, in a small town, but none of this is small, because Stout reveals that all of our stories--and yes this is an every person type of book, are beautiful. Stout's empathetic authorial voice is beautiful. Beautiful is a word I use over and over describing this book. Her use of language is heart bracingly beautiful to the point where sometimes I had to put the book down just to absorb the profound pathos she describes.
I promised a short review, so I will conclude by saying my life has been enriched by reading this novel.
There are thirteen stories in which the character, Olive Kitteridge, appears. They are not all about her. But in each one, a facet of who she is is revealed. The book spans over twenty-five years so that the reader can see what happens to the awkward youth in junior school who grow up to get married, divorced and to think about life's meaning themselves. Olive is not easy on those she loves and they hardly feel the commitment and loyalty she has towards them because of the manner in which she snaps at or criticizes them. She is quick to retort and slow to apologize (only once in their marriage.) You might not like her but all of us knows someone like her. Moreover, many of us are like parts of her.
The richness and depth of this character and the sublime ways by which her truest, deepest feelings are revealed make me appreciate how complex people and life are in my own family and the town we live in. Although the stories are set in a small town in Maine, I can see people's behavior so similar to them paralleled in the working-class town I live in here in Central Massachusetts. The poignancy is striking because there seem to be no places on earth where family weaknesses and unrequited yearning do not exist side by side.
It's no wonder that this book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Olive is a rather eccentric individual, and not the most likable person in the world, but there is something about her that unites her with others in her small community. The individual stories of Olive's acquaintances are varied, and many times heart wrenching, but each story shares common ground with each of us.
I highly recommend this book if you enjoy reading about ordinary human beings and the struggles we encounter. Personally, I loved the book!
Each story tells the tale of a different Crosby resident, but each story is interrelated to the others. No story stands alone, which is what makes this feel like a novel. An unexplained question or mystery in one story is resolved in another.
This is a book about the human condition: joy and sorrow, commitment and betrayal, honor and revenge, love and sex, life and death. I found the book captivating and gripping, albeit a bit sad and at times heartrending.
Olive Kitteridge falls somewhere between a you-can't-put-it-down-page-turner and just a really good read. I recommend it.
There's an edge, some heaviness, for lack of a better term, to the characters and their stories - including Olive, who is surly and difficult. But even so, you'll come to love her. Or at least I did. I didn't realize until after I finished Olive Kitteridge that I'd read a prior book by the author - Amy and Elizabeth. I enjoyed that one too 'though it was years back and I barely remember it. I'll have to check out her third book.
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