Olive Kitteridge by American author Elizabeth Strout, had many favorable reviews from our book club. This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009 and it was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award, so it’s definitely worth reading the entire book, which is really a very small book at 270 pages compared to a lot of the books our book club has selected in the past.
Most people in our book club said that they got something out of it. We did have one person who didn’t like the Olive Kitteridge character enough to continue reading after a couple of chapters. Each chapter in this book provides a different perspective of Olive from those in her family and community. If you don’t read the entire book, you won’t get a clear picture of the many facets of Olive Kitteridge and many of the same characters in her family and community are throughout the book, so I didn’t feel like there were an overwhelming amount of characters in this book. She has her abrasive moments and her less-abrasive moments. We also get to know many of Olive’s viewpoints and her impatient and quick judging personality. You might think that people mellow with age, maybe they do when they are really old, but remember through a lot of this book, she is a woman of a certain age, over 50, a time when women lose hormones, so I had a little sympathy for Olive.
This book is very telling about what happens when a parent mistreats their child and there’s a good chance that parent is not going to see much of them when they’re adults. As they say, what goes around, comes around. Personally, I can attest to this with my own mother who makes the character of Olive Kitteridge seem pretty tame in comparison.
I bought my used copy of Olive Kitteridge on Amazon and later realized while reading it that I have an advance reader’s edition and it says this at the very bottom of the cover in small print. While it is the first edition, it’s also an uncorrected proof that was sent out before the final version of the book is published and it has several typos in it. So if you’re buying the physical book online, I’d recommend verifying with the book seller that you’re getting the final version of the book.
I recommend this book because of its insightful look at how our actions can positively and negatively affect other people. If you’re curious about Olive Kitteridge, go to your quiet place and read or listen to this one.