Sunday, June 28, 2015

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Olive with a Hint of Lemon (Glimpses into Different Lives)

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout is a Pulitzer-winning novel about a stern, intimidating schoolteacher and interconnecting stories of the townspeople whose lives intersect with hers.  Each of the thirteen chapters in this book meanders through the personal struggles and secrets lives of various people in a small Maine town.

Although this was not a cheery book, I enjoyed it and found the narration fresh and intriguing. It was like listening to a friend gossip about neighbors. Strout’s skillful storytelling made it easy to get lost in the tales of the townspeople. She had my full attention. Among others, we get to know the piano player in a local bar, a mother of three who loses her husband, and a woman struggling with anorexia. Each story brings some type of tragedy or turmoil to light. The book is like a somber quilt with Olive as the thread that holds it all together. 

Olive, herself, is not a bright and happy person. She wouldn’t win any Miss Congeniality contest.  She is abrupt and caustic. She is strongly opinionated, and at times she is sour as a lemon. But we discover that underneath the rough exterior, she is also caring, sensitive, and lonely.  Like everyone, she’s a flawed human being, and I liked getting to know her and the people around her.

This book was made into a 2014 TV mini-series. The cast includes Frances McDormand as Olive and Richard Jenkins as her husband, Henry.

This book met several of my 2015 Book Challenges: Read a Pulitzer-prize winning book; read a book that has or will become a movie; read a book with only two words in the title.

Happy Reading,


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  1. I saw the mini-series, and it was amazing - McDormand is fabulous. However, we have the book and I really want to read it.

    1. Good to know--now I'm looking forward to seeing the mini-series even more! Thank you.