Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Carin’s Book of the Year 2009*

Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories by Elizabeth Strout

This book blew me away. I of course had heard all the raving reviews about it for quite a while and I finally got a paperback copy this summer at a Women’s National Book Association meeting (courtesy of the publisher). I probably wouldn’t even have read it except that I was stuck somewhere without reading material just a few days later… except that there’s no such thing as me being really without reading material. I will have a book or two always in my car or in my office or I will read whatever’s available wherever I’m stuck. And I happened to have this book on me although that was unplanned.

I was reluctant. I’ve often been disappointed by books that have gotten raving reviews. I was expecting it to be snooty and pretentious. Plus, it’s a collection of short stories and I HATE short stories. But I loved it. Loved, loved, loved it. Now, since the stories are linked, this one doesn't have my usual issue (just when you get to know and like the characters, they go away! It all takes place in one town and every story at least has Olive in it, which really does make it feel much more like an episodic novel.) Olive is such a wonderful character! She is so feisty, honest (except where it comes to her son) and pulls no punches. I found the looks at all the different mature relationships fascinating. I really understand why this won the Pulitzer. I couldn't stop thinking about it when I put it down, just loved it (and am still thinking about it 6 months later). I was a tiny bit worried at moments that I am perhaps a bit too much like Olive, who can be overbearing and pushy, but that can’t be all bad as so many people respect and like her. Sometimes it does seem to be almost against their will, but they know she’s good at heart and always has their best interests in mind.

*idea courtesy of Brian W. at The Toadstool Bookshop, Milford, NH

1 comment:

Maria said...

Nice review --- I have put this back on my 'to read" list. I was underwhelmed by Strout's novel "Abide with Me" -- but now have heard so many good things about Olive, that I have to try her again.