Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge

I listened to Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout as an audiobook in January, having had it recommended to me. It is an unusual piece of fiction, a collection of short stories that all hang around Olive as the main character, or as a bit player in someone else’s story.

Olive is a retired school teacher and lives in a small town in Maine with her husband of many years. She is a brusque and abrasive character, who speaks her mind, does not suffer fools gladly and is experienced by most as scary and to be avoided. She is not in control of her emotions or able to properly express them and her violent outbursts have led to her estrangement from her son and difficult relationships with friends and neighbours.

The novel won the Pulitzer and is a bestseller but personally, I found it depressing spending so much time observing someone so damaged surrounded by suicide and death. Its message of persistence was not enough to redeem it for me or to generate much sympathy with her. Happy to be in the minority on this one.