Monday, May 28, 2012

7x40: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009. I started reading this book on February 10, 2012 and finished it on May 4, 2012.

Synopsis: (*may contain spoilers)
Olive Kitteridge is a novel-in-stories about a woman named Olive Kitteridge from a the coastal town of Crosby, Maine. Her story is told through multiple points-of-view. Some in her own and some from the perspective of those who live around her.

My Thoughts:
At first glance, I assumed that this book was a collection of inter-related short stories. It is, but the stories, while they do not necessarily center around Olive, form parts of a whole that provides the reader with an intriguing profile of who she is.

Olive comes across as a brash, quick-tongued, almost frightening woman. It's interesting that this actually comes across in the stories that are presented from her point-of-view and the ones from of the people who seem closest to her, like her husband, Henry.

In the stories that are presented in other persons' points-of-view, where some of Olive's appearances are in the form of a memory, or possibly just a simple walk-by, you see her in a different light. You'd think that such a person would be seen by those around her with disdain, but instead, we see her impact on them. And surprisingly, she's impacted them in a positive way. As a result of this, you really do come to care for and hope for all the best for Olive in the end.

This is a very human story, examining how one thinks about things, judges and discerns the path they go on. Whether it's the right path or the wrong one. Through this story, we see a little bit of ourselves when our brains are thinking one thing, but we actually go and say something else entirely because what we have in our heads isn't popular or possibly the right thing at all.

Elizabeth Strout employs such beautiful language. Her descriptions are not overwhelming, but detailed enough to set the scene. This is not a novel that goes by quickly. I read this over the course of almost four months. I don't consider myself a fast reader, but this is rather slow by my standards. It's not boring, but rather, it goes at a very leisurely pace. This is a prime example of writing and reading for the reason of experiencing beautiful words. In my humble opinion, this is the kind of literary fiction I can enjoy. Literary, without pretense.

First Line:
For many years Henry Kitteridge was a pharmacist in the next town over, driving every morning on snowy roads, or rainy roads, or summer-time roads, when the wild raspberries shot their new growth in brambles along the last section of town before he turned off to where the wider road led to the pharmacy."

Last Line:
She did not want to leave it yet. 

Source: Purchased via Amazon.

*I apologize for any spoilers that might appear in this post.


  1. Sounds like something I might want to try reading.

  2. Thanks for sharing! I'm not a big literary fic fan but I may just give this a try :)


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