Posted by: istop4books | December 13, 2010

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

10 stars for the beautiful, lyrical writing, 4 stars for depressive material equals a 7 star average.

Honestly, the author hit the ball out of the park with her intuitive thoughts on aging; it reminded me of so many conversations with my mom, and of some of the thoughts which have begun to creep into my 50+ year old mind. But… the whole entire thing were toas too flippin’ depressing; there were just about no redeeming features to the stories (with one beautiful exception).

Olive Kitteridge is a series of stories based around the aging life of Olive. With many more years behind her than in front of her, each story adds to the make up of this one very tough, Maine woman.

Olive is bossy, opinionated and what I would call cold. Her husband Henry, is a bit of a pushover, (a lot of a pushover) and comes across as weak in the narrative. She and Henry have one son, an uncommunicative boy who becomes a podiatrist, marries and moves across the country to California and pretty much emotionally disengages himself from Maine and his parents.

My mom used to say that old age was most ungrateful, and this book truly captures all the awful things that go with growing old, with our children leaving home, leading their own, sometimes incomprehensible (to us) lives. She nails it. The loneliness, the sadness the fears are all there. In that sense I totally understand the Pulitzer Prize. But Olive seemed to me a bitter character, a woman with very little compassion for others and as such, was shown very little compassion as she got older. With few activities, few friends and reasons to live, anyone would have the same difficulties getting through their day.

If there was one thing I did get out of the book, it was to live life regardless of our kids, to prepare for the alone times, but to make an effort to find meaningful people and a purpose in later life.


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