Reviews of Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge

by Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout X
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2008, 288 pages

    Paperback:
    Sep 2008, 304 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition – its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life – sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition – its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

Chapter 1
Pharmacy

For many years Henry Kitteridge was a pharmacist in the next town over, driving every morning on snowy roads, or rainy roads, or summertime roads, when the wild raspberries shot their new growth in brambles along the last section of town before he turned off to where the wider road led to the pharmacy. Retired now, he still wakes early and remembers how mornings used to be his favorite, as though the world were his secret, tires rumbling softly beneath him and the light emerging through the early fog, the brief sight of the bay off to his right, then the pines, tall and slender, and almost always he rode with the window partly open because he loved the smell of the pines and the heavy salt air, and in the winter he loved the smell of the cold.

The pharmacy was a small two-story building attached to another building that housed separately a hardware store and a small grocery. Each morning Henry parked in the back by the large metal bins, and then entered the ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Do you like Olive Kitteridge as a person?

  2. Have you ever met anyone like Olive Kitteridge, and if so, what similarities do you see between that person and Olive?

  3. How would you say Olive changed as a person during the course of the book?

  4. Discuss the theme of suicide. Which characters are most affected (or fascinated) by the idea of killing themselves?

  5. What freedoms do the residents of Crosby, Maine, experience in contrast with those who flee the town for bigger “ponds” (California, New York)? Does anyone feel trapped in Crosby, and if so, who? What outlets for escape are available to them?

  6. Why does Henry tolerate Olive as much as he does, catering to her, agreeing with her, staying even-keeled when she rants and ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!
  • award image

    Pulitzer Prize Winners
    2009

Reviews

Media Reviews

Entertainment Weekly
Rarely does a story collection pack such a gutsy emotional punch.

O: The Oprah Magazine
Perceptive, deeply empathetic . . . Olive is the axis around which these thirteen complex, relentlessly human narratives spin themselves into Elizabeth Strout’s unforgettable novel in stories.

San Francisco Chronicle
Funny, wicked and remorseful, Mrs. Kitteridge is a compelling life force, a red-blooded original. When she’s not onstage, we look forward to her return. The book is a page-turner because of her.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Olive Kitteridge still lingers in memory like a treasured photograph.

The New Yorker
Strout makes us experience not only the terrors of change but also the terrifying hope that change can bring: she plunges us into these churning waters and we come up gasping for air.

USA Today.
Fiction lovers, remember this name: Olive Kitteridge. . . . You’ll never forget her. . . . [Elizabeth Strout] constructs her stories with rich irony and moments of genuine surprise and intense emotion. . . . Glorious, powerful stuff.

Kirkus Reviews
A perfectly balanced portrait of the human condition, encompassing plenty of anger, cruelty and loss without ever losing sight of the equally powerful presences of tenderness, shared pursuits and lifelong loyalty.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Like this story, the collection is easy to read and impossible to forget.

Library Journal
Readers will have to decide for themselves whether it's worth the ride to the last few pages to witness Olive's slide into something resembling insight.

Booklist
Starred Review. Though loneliness and loss haunt these pages, Strout also supplies gentle humor and a nourishing dose of hope.

Reader Reviews

Caser

Olive is unforgettable.
Olive isn't always likeable, but who cares? She is a memorable character I would want to know. The stories are superb, well worth rereading over and over again.
JaneN

Olive
Olive Kitteridge is strong, sassy, thoroughly opinionated and totally lovable. The stories that Elizabeth Strout uses to tell us about Olive are so well written and so detailed that you really get to know the character. Just When you think you know ...   Read More
Margaret McCrank

Top Recommendation!
Every year in June, our book club has a get-together to choose our books for the up-coming season. We live an hour's drive away from the closest book store, so all our books must be chosen- which we do by voting - before we all disperse to do our ...   Read More
Lynn

Wonderful stories
I always read the Pulitzer Prize winners, but rarely seem to enjoy them. This was an exception. I loved this collection of 11 short stories. Depending on the story, Olive Kitteridge was sometimes the main subject, sometimes she was only mentioned ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Elizabeth Strout

If you liked Olive Kitteridge, try these:

  • Secrets of Happiness jacket

    Secrets of Happiness

    by Joan Silber

    Published 2022

    About this book

    More by this author

    When a man discovers his father in New York has long had another, secret, family - a wife and two kids - the interlocking fates of both families lead to surprise loyalties, love triangles, and a reservoir of inner strength.

  • Housebreaking jacket

    Housebreaking

    by Colleen Hubbard

    Published 2022

    About this book

    Following a long-standing feud and looking to settle the score, a woman decides to dismantle her home—alone and by hand—and move it across a frozen pond during a harsh New England winter in this mesmerizing debut.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Moth
    Moth
    by Melody Razak
    On August 15, 1947, India gained independence from the United Kingdom, and on that same day the ...
  • Book Jacket: All the Lonely People
    All the Lonely People
    by Mike Gayle
    Mike Gayle's charming novel All the Lonely People introduces us to Hubert Bird, an 82-year-old ...
  • Book Jacket: Perish
    Perish
    by LaToya Watkins
    It's a commonly cited fact that many perpetrators of sexual abuse, particularly men, are victims of ...
  • Book Jacket: Afterlives
    Afterlives
    by Abdulrazak Gurnah
    Afterlives, from Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah, begins in late 19th century East Africa in ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Ways We Hide
by Kristina McMorris
From the bestselling author of Sold On A Monday, a sweeping tale of an illusionist recruited by British intelligence in World War II.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Family Izquierdo
    by Rubén Degollado

    A masterful debut that weaves together the lives of three generations of a Mexican American family bound by love, and a curse.

  • Book Jacket

    Natural History
    by Andrea Barrett

    A masterful new collection of interconnected stories, from the renowned National Book Award–winning author.

Who Said...

We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Y Can't G H A

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.