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Olive Kitteridge Paperback – Sep 30 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (Sept. 30 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812971833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812971835
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #61,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Janet Babins TOP 100 REVIEWER on March 14 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a collection of thirteen short stories, all taking place in Crosby, Maine with the main character, Olive Kitteridge. She is the link that makes these stories read like a novel.

Olive Kitteridge is a retired math teacher in her 70s, married to Henry, a likeable retired pharmacist. Henry himself finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse. They have an adult son named Christopher, a podiatrist. Olive loves her son to the point of being overly protective and possessive. This makes Christopher absolutely miserable, so miserable that he is seeing a therapist. Olive is a grouchy, bossy and pessimistic woman, who has a hard time adapting to change. She wonders why bad things only happen to her.

To some people in town, Olive is likeable, to others, she is controlling. People may say she doesn't care what people think about her, but the truth is she really does care. With time, she does eventually see more and more of herself, but it may be too late.

The many characters that we meet is Kevin Coulson, a former pupil of Olive, now a med student, who has returned to his home town. He is sitting in his car, watching the incoming tide and contemplating suicide. There is also Julia, who was jilted on her wedding day. Angie, the pretty alcoholic piano player, who is now in her 50s, single and in love with a married man. We also meet a grieving widow and a mentally ill woman, who never leaves her home and on it goes.

This book is beautifully written and straightforward. It explores the topics of loneliness, the lack of understanding between people, how behaviour can damage relationships and chase people away, aging and life and death.

I enjoyed this book immensely, particularly the colourful character of Olive Kitteridge, who made this book a winner. This book gets my highest recommendation of FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS. Elizabeth Strout's book, Olive Kitteridge, is the winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Samantha TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 31 2011
Format: Paperback
I had no idea the book had won a Pulitzer when I put it on my wish list two years ago. I didn't read it until early 2011 and was delighted from the beginning. I found every story captivated me. Olive's presence in each is the glue that makes the novel whole. Often, she shows up surreptitiously, like Alfred Hitchcock in his films. Sometimes, she is the star. Always she makes a profound impact. Throughout, Olive is totally herself, imperfections on display. However, she's not just an irascible retired school teacher. Even though she's crotchety and difficult, she's also compassionate and wise. She's displayed in full colour. I don't always like her. But I care about her. Olive is real--complex. Then there's the stories themselves. The characters of Crosby, Maine are not extraordinary. Their stories aren't thrilling, Hollywood happy, or even complete, but they are exceedingly engaging. I read one story per day, drawing out the pleasure. I commend Ms. Strout for an inspired, subtle study of humanity. It matters not a whit to me where the stories were first published. The collection is suitably arranged and presented. This is not just good literature, it's good storytelling.
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By annie on May 31 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Read this for bookclub. First time trough found it a bit odd and confusing, were all stories connected? Second time I read it was more interesting. Still not sure who Olive really is, a complex personality.
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By connie epp on May 17 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Olive Kitteridge weaves threads of the life of one woman through each unique chapter in the book. While Olive's personality seems inconsistent at times, I suspect the author had in mind a more metaphorical representation for the Olive character than literal actualization. In that sense it works better for me.
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Format: Paperback
It's true that Olive's character challenges paved the way to her own unhappiness - but every path has sideroads!
Olive's story details the courage required to revise one's life: Olive pries open her eyes and unflinchingly tolerates what is revealed to her about herself, her relationship with her husband, son, students and townspeople. She then makes some astounding inner adjustments - a transformation I found moving and inspiring!

Eleanor Cowan, author of A History of a Pedophile's Wife: Memoir of a Canadian Teacher and Writer
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By AMR on Nov. 24 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I LOVED this book. It was full of charm and wonderful characters. It's wonderful author Elizabeth Strout manages to put you right into the living rooms of people who are down home and brimming with New England personality. There are 13 stories that are linked together by the main character Olive Kitteridge who is a blunt somewhat unlikable but humorous middle-aged school teacher. This book made me laugh and cry and most importantly it made me want to read on...
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Format: Paperback
One of the questions for reflection at the end of the book asks if I like Olive as a person. Now that I have finished the story I can say "Yes, I do." Olive is a person who I can resonate with on many levels. I think I would get along with her if I were to meet her. One of the greatest strengths of this book is that it weaves many narratives together to create a warm dialogue between lives. Olive comes out as a complex but clearly well meaning and kind individual.

In the process of telling the stories, the reader has the opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of the community where the stories take place. Simple everyday places like a pharmacy, or a donut shop or a nightclub become rich sources of life and, for me, comfort. The characters in each story are very human. They are simple, and in this way I can relate to them.

Writing a book review without spoilers is difficult, so I will leave it at that. A beautiful book.
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