Friday, 30 January 2015

Olive Kitteridge

"Books are humanity in print".
(Barbara Tuchman- American author and historian)

This morning, I lead a discussion of "Olive Kitteridge" by Elizabeth Strout.

It was not written as most of the book club would like.  Rather than a direct narrative, it is composed of related short stories- or episodes.  But I found the book to be quite profound. Each story, centred around local characters in the town of Crosby, Maine, illuminates issues and situations that people face in life.
At the core, the book is about a hunger that each person has - for love, for connection, for relationship.  But that hunger can lead to disaster.  And so..
The book was too sad for some of the book club members and I was unable to convince them of the significance of the book.
With sixteen book club participants, the book only received a rating of 6.9 out of 10.
The book was granted a Pulitzer prize and has been made into an HBO mini series.
I love Elizabeth Strout's writing and enjoyed two other books that she has written: 

"Abide With Me" is about a minister in a small town in Maine.  Tyler Caskey is deeply grieving the death of his wife and is ineffective with his congregation and his young children.  Once again, there are serious issues of trying to hang on when your world falls apart.
It is a beautifully-written story with a great introduction, well-developed characters, and an interesting plot.  The ending was satisfying and I loved the book!

"Amy and Isabelle" is about a mother and daughter. Once again, the difficult issues of life are explored. 
"There was all sorts of unhappiness in Shirley Falls that night.  If Isabelle Goodrow had been able to lift the roof off various houses and peer into their domestic depths she would have found an assortment of human miseries."
This was Elizabeth Strout's first novel and I loved the writing.
"We want to know, I think, what it is like to be another person, because somehow this helps us position our own self in the world.  What are we without this curiosity?" (Elizabeth Strout)


  1. I enjoyed it and look forward to discussing it with you. Gayle

  2. I read this book quite some time ago. I think I would place it among my top three of all this book club's selections. I'm surprised it was not rated more highly by the attendees. To me this was a way more profound and much better written book than the very highly rated Hundred Foot Journey. It just goes to show - "different strokes for different folks"! I think I need to reread it given the viewpoint of my book club colleagues and see if I still stand by my high opinion!