Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Book Review: Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

EVAN: "It sounds British. Is she British?"

ME: "No, this book is set in Maine."

EVAN: "Yeah, but I bet she's British."

ME: "No honey....she's not British."

And thus, I had to go through the rest of the time it took me to read this book with my husband pronouncing the title with a terrible British accent: "Owhleeve Keetredge!" But, no....the title character is not British. Unique in its narration, this novel is structured as a collection of 13 short stories, or vignettes, that are all connected somehow to one central character, Olive. Some focus on her former students, others on her husband, neighbors, and occasionally herself. There are stories of love, loss, scandal, marriage (and divorce), happy endings and sad ones. Every new story offered another facet of Olive's character and helped paint a more complete picture of her life and the community in which she lives. The novel moves through a great deal of time and introduces us to a number of characters, but it is the quirky, heavy-set, blunt to a fault, Olive that keeps us turning the pages. Perhaps not one that I will re-read, but I would certainly recommend it highly. It's a fast read and I found it to be eloquently written and very enjoyable. Be prepared to be on a waiting list at the library for this one, however!

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