Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout is the sixth book that I’ve read for my challenge, and thus far it has been my favorite.
The book is a collection of short stories, all told by people connected to a small town in Maine. In addition to this this all the stories are linked by being related in some way to Olive Kitteridge.She’s not the main focus of all of the stories, but I think she makes an appearance (even if it’s for the characters to note that they don’t really care much for her) in all of them.
Olive herself is kind of a bitch, though I grew to like her more and more. I never cared much for her son, but I thought her husband’s story “Pharmacy” was my favorite. Henry’s character isn’t as complex as Olive, but he’s more likable. My next favorite story was probably “The Piano Player”, though I’m not really sure why except that it definitely brought to mind the Billy Joel song “Piano Man”.
The stories all feel like snapshots into peoples’ lives at one particular moment — and while they’re all short (13 in the 270 page hardback for an average of ~21 pages each), you still have time to develop feeling about each new (or returning) set of characters. I feel like this book would be a good choice for a book club or something similar. I find myself wanting to discuss the stories with someone, and find out what other people thought about the way this book handles the characters and emotions.
I definitely recommend this one.
I checked this book out in hardback from my local library.