BOOK REVIEW: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

 

*SPOILERS AHEAD.*

I’m currently reading my way through a list of books my parent’s recommended and after ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ and ‘Perfect’, this one didn’t grip me very much at first. I couldn’t understand why the main chapter didn’t start with the central character; Olive. Instead, it was randomly about her husband. Everyone on good reads didn’t understand why there was no pay off; sometimes life has no payoff. It’s just a tale of life as it really happens and also, there is no payoff because it’s all about the form. It’s all about the way it’s told through the eyes of others because that is often our own stories are told, whether we know it or not. The form of this book though I discovered is the key to it’s Pulitzer prize success.  It tells the short story of Olive Kitteridge through the eyes of other people as they live their lives in the tiny coastal town in Maine. They are ordinary people, living small town lives and I thought it was truly amazing how well developed every single character was and Olive features in their lives in some way.

olive-kitteridge-by-elizabeth-strout

What I also liked was that Olive was not your typical main character; she wasn’t young or beautiful or thin or in love with someone attractive. She was so real, so human and had so much depth and richness to her character. I really empathised with her even though she wasn’t arguably a good mother to her son or a particularly caring wife.  It broke my heart when Henry died because it really got me thinking about the truth about old age. I’ve read a lot of books recently with people in their 50s/60s but this one struck the hardest.  It also reminded of what it can mean to be alive and that we usually live for love because all of the characters in this book loose someone they love and that it is something that comes in many forms, no matter what age or where we live. So if you’re thinking of reading it; read it for the exploration into a human soul and also into love in all its forms. Read it for the description of small town living and a reminder that one life is all we have.

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