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2 July 2011 / getrus

Olive Kitteridge — Elizabeth Strout

Finished this a couple of days ago after starting in January.  (Long story short, I managed to leave it at my parents’ house when I was visiting and didn’t get it back for almost two months.)  It is part of my quest to read all of the Pulitzer winners (at least all the lit/fiction).

It is composed of 13 vignettes where each of the main characters somehow know Olive or are Olive at some point during her lifetime.  The first one starting out with her husband, Henry, at the pharmacy where he works.  Most of them are through the eyes of someone in the town.  Olive reminds me of the woman in town whom everyone knows, but no one ever wants to talk to.  She isn’t very charismatic or sweet, in fact she seems a bit aloof in my mind.  Her and Henry stay together throughout the whole story, but on both sides there is some animosity and the love had gone years ago.  They simply did not know how to live without the other person after all those years.  Eventually Henry dies and Olive lives by herself eventually going to see her son who moved away and had a family of his own.

Olive in herself is a very complex character and with the different view points Strout brings in you see every side of her possible.  You see what most people see; the caring mother and  the loyal wife,  but also you see how she sees herself:  stuck in a place where she can’t get out and unwanted by anyone else, even in the end by her own son because of her changes of moods.  Only in the end does some of it make sense; when some things which where hinted at but never said in the open come out and you fully understand Olive Kitteridge.

I loved this book, (not so much that I will keep this book for all time and put on my shelf with all the other *amazing reads*) but it is poignant and heartfelt and seems to linger in your memory long after you last read it.  Like a favorite toy from your childhood.

**** (four stars)

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