Best selling, acclaimed novel Olive Kitteridge includes a series of vignettes about people who are all connected to the eponymous retired teacher. Set in the north east coastal region of America, the book dips in and out of the lives of various members of a small town community.
Through the interactions of the characters, the reader gets to know more about Olive. During her latter years, we see changes in her as she reflects upon her own life and the choices that she made.
At times I found moving onto a new character a little frustrating, especially when I wasn’t ready to leave the previous one, though that shows how absorbing I found each tale. When writing this review I asked myself how best to sum it up. I thought about a tree; Olive is the trunk and the characters are the branches and twigs; all part of the one, but connected to the trunk.
I can’t say that I liked Olive, but I did go a fair way to understanding her. I felt sorry for the way she treated some of her friends and family. But if any book has you wanting to know more, which I did, about several of the characters, it shows that the author knows how to bring a person to life.
Overall a character driven novel about the lives of those from just one of the many small towns across America. With the main character being retired and several others of similar age, this book may not suit younger readers.
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Olive Kitteridge might be described by some as a battle axe or as brilliantly pushy, by others as the kindest person they had ever met. Olive herself has always been certain that she is 100% correct about everything – although, lately, her certitude has been shaken.
This indomitable character appears at the centre of these narratives that comprise Olive Kitteridge. In each of them, we watch Olive, a retired schoolteacher, as she struggles to make sense of the changes in her life and the lives of those around her – always with brutal honesty, if sometimes painfully. Olive will make you laugh, nod in recognition, as well as wince in pain or shed a tear or two. We meet her stoic husband, bound to her in a marriage both broken and strong, and her own son, tyrannised by Olive’s overbearing sensitivities. The reader comes away, amazed by this author’s ability to conjure this formidable heroine and her deep humanity that infiltrates every page.