Olive Kitteredge, by Elizabeth Strout, a book review

Please read this book. It won a Pulitzer for fiction for good reason.

Olive Kitteredge is fiction in a unique format: linked short stories. Each story includes the character Olive Kitteredge, a tall older woman, a schoolteacher, the sort you might call a “battleaxe”. And yet I would gladly have read another dozen stories, as each reveals a bit more about Olive.

The stories advance chronologically in a hopscotch way, and a whole town in Maine begins to emerge, a constellation of characters that have a common history. Olive’s family — husband and child — become rounded characters, so the effect of the novel is that of reading a saga with multiple points of view, although this is all contained within slim covers.

Elizabeth Strout is the best, and rarest, kind of fiction writer — literary without reminding you of that fact in every sentence. So there are metaphors, but not over many. There are sentences that sing. But mainly there is beautiful clean prose that unwraps a character, and spins a story where that character changes.


2 responses to “Olive Kitteredge, by Elizabeth Strout, a book review”

  1. Lorraine, I hope you’ll buy the book. It’s really worth the ten bucks!

  2. Lorrainel Avatar

    The book sounds interesting so I just went to the county library website to put a hold on it. And I’m #94 in the hold queue!!!! lol…. I guess it’ll be awhile before I can read it.

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