Book Review by Dinh.
I was a bit hesitant in reading Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout, a sequel to Olive Kitteridge, not knowing if it would work to read the sequel without reading the first book beforehand.
Our research showed that it would be okay but you never know for sure.
I am glad that it did work out, and having read Olive, Again I will definitely go back to check out Olive Kitteridge.
This was my first book by Elizabeth Strout and I am pleased to discover a new author to love!
Olive Kitteridge won the 2009 Pulizter Prize for Fiction and was the finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. Strout other works include: Amy and Isabelle (1998) Abide With Me (2006), The Burgess Boys (2013), My Name is Lucy Barton (2016) and Anything Is Possible (2017).
Here’s why I enjoyed Olive, Again:
This literary fiction is heavily character driven so the story line is more about the journey with the characters. The book is mainly about Olive Kitteridge and her interaction with her community in the last chunk of her life.
Olive Kitteridge is in her 70s, a widower, and living in a small town of Crosby, Maine. She meets another widower named Jack Kennison and they start a relationship that turn into something more.
I love that Strout used a collection of short stories to tell the story of Olive’s life from her seventies to eighties.
I enjoyed that some of the stories centered on Olive, while others were not but had her at the side lines. It was a creative way to manipulate the readers view of the story and see Olive in a different light as she interacts with other people.
Though I like the thirteen short stories, I did find that the discontinuous narrative a bit of work. It was bit hard to figure out how old Olive was in the story.
Strout’s style of writing is awesome. Her sharp insight into the minutiae of the human experience is cleverly revealed in the characters as they juggle life.
I loved that this book focused on themes that explore the human experience, especially the parts on about ageing and old age. It goes to show that it’s never too late to start over.
Family dynamics and connecting with others is poignantly captured. It compels the reader to want to know more.
I liked that the book made me feel a range of emotions. Parts were sad and other parts of the book was also funny.
I liked Olive’s character. Strout does a great job in portraying a character who is realistic and authentic. I could totally imagine what Olive would say or do in a certain situation.
Olive is blunt and brutally honest and can come across as abrasive but inside is a woman who feels love and has compassion for her fellow beings. She sort of remains me of a male version of A Man Called Ove. The comparison stops there- they are both abrasive but soft on the inside.
I particularly liked “labor” which showcases Olive’s character . She goes to a “stupid” baby shower and somehow ends up delivering a baby in her car!
I thought Jack Kennison was a fantastic character. Again, Strout depicts a guy who I can imagine. Jack is in his seventies and also a widower. He used to be a Harvard professor and used to be ‘attractive’ but now he’s a lonely old man who had prostrate cancer.
As to be expected Olive ends up in a nursing home after Jack dies.
Olive’s relationship with her son Christopher changes when she realizes that he loves her.
My Final Thoughts
I loved reading Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout!
This was a compelling character driven read. I enjoyed the uniqueness of the short story collection showing the journey of Olive Ketteridge’s life in her seventies to eighties.
I highly recommend Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout!
Belong to a book club? Check out Olive, Again book club discussion questions here.