Thursday, September 23, 2010
Book Review: Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout
by Elizabeth Strout
People, I am absolutely and unequivocally in love.
With this book. This one, right here. Olive Kitteridge.
This isn't my new favorite book of the month, or the fall, or even all of 2010. No. This is one of my favorite books that I have read in all of my 41 years. This is the book I am going to start recommending to people when they ask me to suggest "a good book."
This is the kind of book I dream of writing.
A friend just asked me, in response to my raving about this on Facebook, what this book is about. And I am absolutely at a loss of how to describe this. It's about the residents of a small town in Maine sounds like a snore-fest. It's about a retired schoolteacher named Olive Kitteridge and her family and the connections between them and the people in her community ....
Indeed, it is about all of these things, and it's about the big and small things that make up this thing we call life. It's about the people who share our hearts and those who we encounter by chance. Those we take for granted and those who we will always, in our own way, mourn.
I started writing this review when I was only up to page 42 of Olive Kitteridge. At that point, it was apparent that I was in the company of something very special. Suffice it to say that this is absolutely flawless. I honestly cannot think of anything that bothered me about this book or that didn't work for me ... it is just, simply, a masterpiece in every sense of the word. Author Elizabeth Strout won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Olive Kitteridge and it is richly deserved. This book should be taught in every English class.
Everything about this novel-in-stories is pure literary gold. The characters - each and every single one of these people, residents of coastal Crosby, Maine, all memorable and Olive Kitteridge in their lives for vastly different reasons. The prose - lyrical, mesmerizing, captivating, with descriptions that bring every single one of the pine trees in this community to such vivid life you can hear and see each one in the wind. The dialogue - so unique to each character, so accurate. The tension, the suspense, the dark humor, the waves of emotion crashing into the reader's heart ...it's all here, in 13 exquisitely written stories that comprise this Pulitzer Prize (and most deservedly so) novel.
I love short stories, but even if you aren't a fan of the form, that doesn't matter with this book. While each of these stories can stand alone (and in some cases I believe they have), Olive Kitteridge has a natural rhythm and flow to it.
As I finished each of the stories, I found myself saying, "OK, that was the best one in this book." And then I would repeat the same thing after the next, and then the next. After some I felt like I was forcing myself to actually breathe because the tension was just so heightened. (I speak of "A Different Road" which I read during last night's shaken-to-the-core thunderstorm that was just as scary as the direction I thought the plot was taking.)
Truly, I know that I am gushing about this book and that this is probably my most incoherent book review (if you can call it that) ever. I don't care. All that matters is that I somehow convey to you that this is a book you must, must, must read. No, that you must experience because if you appreciate literature and the written word, this is an absolute gift. It is brilliant, it is mesmerizing, it is stunning in its simplicity and complexity.
It is an exquisite literary treasure.
What Other Bloggers Thought:
A Book A Week
A Guy's Moleskine Notebook
A Life in Books
A Novel Menagerie
A Reader's Journal
Beth Kephart Books
I'm Booking It
it's all about me
Necromancy Never Pays
Never Fading Wood
Peeking Between the Pages
Ready When You Are, C.B.
She is Too Fond of Books
Take Me Away
Did I miss your review? Let me know in the comments.
copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.