Customer Reviews


 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Favourite read of the year
As others have mentioned, this 'novel' is a series of 13 linked short stories. Assembled as they are they paint a picture of Crobsy, a coastal town in Maine, and its inhabitants. The book covers a period of perhaps fifteen or twenty years. What links them is the retired schoolteacher, (maths), Mrs Olive Kitteridge. Olive takes centre stage in just two of the...
Published 15 months ago by J. Griffiths

versus
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Olive: overbearing but insightful
Olive Kitteridge, a retired teacher, is not a likeable woman by average standards. She is strong, obstinate, resolute, set in her views. Married to an infinitely patient husband, they love each other in an almost contradictory way, unyielding and at the same time sort of shattered. They have a son who is oppressed by her solicitude and, when she used to teach, all of...
Published on 9 April 2012 by ELI (Italy)


‹ Previous | 1 211 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Favourite read of the year, 25 April 2014
By 
J. Griffiths (Cardiff, Cardiff United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As others have mentioned, this 'novel' is a series of 13 linked short stories. Assembled as they are they paint a picture of Crobsy, a coastal town in Maine, and its inhabitants. The book covers a period of perhaps fifteen or twenty years. What links them is the retired schoolteacher, (maths), Mrs Olive Kitteridge. Olive takes centre stage in just two of the stories/chapters, in some she gets a walk-on part and in several merely a mention. Olive is a 'big woman' both physically and in the effect she has on people she encounters. Some people can't stand her, others are scared of her, her son is estranged from her and her husband, Henry, is devoted to her. Everyone respects her. To me she came over as a rather difficult, no-nonsense, spikey woman who didn't suffer fools gladly. Almost an outsider. I'm not sure that I liked her much but she'd be good to have around in a crisis.
The structure of the book sounds contrived but in fact it makes perfect sense as through all these perspectives the reader gains a three-dimensional picture of life in Crosby - which might almost be 'AnySmallTown'.
This is the third novel I've read by Elizabeth Strout. She is a truly masterful writer who is in complete control of her prose. She avoids clichés and sentimentality, completely drawing us in to the world inhabited by her cast of 'ordinary' characters whose trials and tribulations, triumphs and disasters, ups and downs, mirror and inform the experiences of 'ordinary' people.
Perhaps my favourite read of the year so far.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant series of interlinking short stories, 20 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories (Paperback)
This reads at times like a novella but it is, of course, a book of short stories each of which can be enjoyed in their own right. The fact that Olive Kitteridge appears, (however fleetingly), in all of them, provides an interesting dimension to the book. I fluctuated between sympathy for her moods and obsessions and a feeling of irritation with her self indulgent moaning and possesive behaviour towards her son. Her husband could be viewed as a saint to put up with her, but, is he really? or, is he too passive and bland, living an interior life she cannot penetrate? It is sadly ironic and symbolic that he ends his days in a care home blind and unspeaking after a stroke. Olive continues to visit him and probably confides more in him now he cannot respond.We see a number of the characters, especially Olive, her husband Henry and their son, in different lights according to who has the narrator's voice at that point. The other characters in the stories are equally interesting. It has echoes for me of Carol Shields and of course the wonderful Alice Munro. I heartily recommend it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle and nuanced, 29 Aug. 2010
By 
Elizabeth M. Gump (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories (Paperback)
I chose this book for beach reading this year, and was blown away by the nuanced approach to understanding Olive Kitteredge through the eyes and thoughts of people who came into contact with her. Each chapter offers another dimension of Olive and her world. I read it once, and then read it again to rejoin this world. Lovely, bittersweet.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Olive: overbearing but insightful, 9 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories (Paperback)
Olive Kitteridge, a retired teacher, is not a likeable woman by average standards. She is strong, obstinate, resolute, set in her views. Married to an infinitely patient husband, they love each other in an almost contradictory way, unyielding and at the same time sort of shattered. They have a son who is oppressed by her solicitude and, when she used to teach, all of her pupils were scared of her.

Yet Olive is capable of a gentleness that is surprising in a woman who is always-right. She can touch lives with a heart that proves to be extremely kind, and although she is always, always brutally honest with herself and others, the advancing old age is making her see things under a different perspective.

This is a well written novel, moving at times, funny too in certain parts. It is mainly, in my opinion, an exploration of the human condition when getting older. I would not say this has become one of my favourite books (for no particular reason actually, it just did not "blow me away") but it is definitely a book that deserves a try.
3.5 Amazon stars.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The stories begin from the perspective of her affable husband Henry and his easy going nature and almost dread of returning to h, 8 Aug. 2014
From all the portrayals of Olive Kitteridge throughout the novel, it is the battleaxe which stuck to me most strongly. Those scenes where she was dismissive, demanding and downright horrid were my favourites. I have talked time and again about how much I admire writers who can write characters who aren’t particularly likeable, Christos Tsiolkas is the expert, but Elizabeth Strout does a sterling job with Olive too. Olive is our protagonist and yet she is completely impossible to warm to, or I couldn’t at least. The stories begin from the perspective of her affable husband Henry and his easy going nature and almost dread of returning to his wife sets the tone throughout and this is developed further once scenes place Olive’s son Christopher at centre stage.

I love the format of the novel, though all stories weren’t as strong as each other, and I love that the only connective force is Olive herself, the form of the novel almost strengthens her character even further. It makes her seem more than she is as she is integral to each of the tales that we’re told without necessarily being central to them, it’s very cleverly written.

Olive Kitteridge lets the reader poke their nose into a wide range of different environments and private emotional experiences. It’s a great idea, well executed but for some unknown reason, perhaps an inability to feel close to or empathise with many characters (apart from Henry) I don’t think this is a novel which will stay with me in the ways others have. A shame as it’s a concept I’d really bought into.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Olive Kitteridge - the Hamlet of New England, 10 Mar. 2013
By 
John Fitzpatrick (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a collection of 13 short stories in which the eponymous title character sometimes appears as Hamlet, sometimes as Ophelia and sometimes as a spear carrier.

The book covers a period of 30 to 40 years in her life and that of her husband and son and many of the stories are
interlinked.

Characters and episodes stride decades and people who are long dead still play a role in the lives of those who are still alive.

Olive Kitteridge, a maths teacher in a small town in Maine, is a rather cantankerous character who is not afraid to speak her mind regardless of what others think.

She has been bossing her husband, a pharmacist, and son around for decades and finally gets her comeuppance when her son, newly married and with a family of his own, turns on her when she is at her lowest ebb.

However, she is a survivor above all else and bounces back despite all the problems that go with becoming older and a widow.

It is not a gloomy book despite the subject matter and is quite amusing at times

The writer does a fine job of describing not only the characters but also the coastal region of New England where the book is set, along with the changing seasons and years.

If you like Anne Tyler then this is definitely for you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very intimate novel., 21 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories (Paperback)
Olive Kitteridge might not be the quintessence of pleasantness. As a teacher she always scared the hell out of her pupils; as a wife she never apologized with her husband; as a mother she made life impossible for her son. However, as the pages go by, we can't help realizing how her image changes according to the points of view. Sometimes Olive touches other lives in ways she'd never imagine, sometimes she can even be a very gentle presence, and some others a very obtrusive one. From time to time, in a few tales, we're allowed the small "privilege" of sharing her deeper thoughts, and that's when all the painful contradictions of her inner self come to light.

I really loved this book. What makes it special to my eyes is the way Elizabeth Strout has to approach people's lives, from the outside and from the inside, big and little events, or better big and little "bursts", as Olive would say:

"Olive's private view is that life depends on what she thinks of as 'big bursts' and 'little bursts'. Big bursts are things like marriage or children, intimacies that keep you afloat, but these big bursts hold dangerous, unseen currents. Which is why you need the little bursts as well: a friendly clerk at Bradlee's, let's say, or the waitress at Dunkin's Donuts who knows how you like your coffee. Tricky business, really."

If you're keen on the intimist kind of literature, I strongly recommend it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elizabeth Strout - Olive Kitteridge, 19 May 2010
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories (Paperback)
I'm no great fan of modern fiction, generally. Most writers at work today seem uninspired, and write unambitious, trivial books that have generally been written before. (There are, of course, a few exceptions). This, however, I felt was different. It's not exactly shockingly original, but I felt it overflowed with quality, with compassion. It's a wonderful, rounded view of a woman's life. I adore Olive Kitteridge, the lady and the book. I felt myself reading each consecutive story with further commitment to her character. It's not a happy book (in fact, almost every story is about something variously tragic), but I like depressing books. And I liked this, a lot.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That's what I call true literature!, 3 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories (Paperback)
I was looking forward to this "novel in stories" because I had read very positive reviews and I was rewarded.

This is maybe the first novel by a living writer that I can rate five stars this year. "A Classic" and "Comedy of social manners" jump to mind.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A difficult woman who's worth getting to know, 2 Jan. 2010
By 
This review is from: Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories (Paperback)
If you need any convincing about the power of this book just read this extract...

"And yet, standing behind her son, waiting for the traffic light to change, she remembered how in the midst of it all there had been times when she'd felt a loneliness so deep that once, not so many years ago, having a cavity filled, the dentist's gentle turning of her chin with his soft fingers had felt to her like a tender kindness of almost excruciating depth, and she had swallowed with a groan of longing, tears springing to her eyes. ('Are you alright, Mrs Kitteridge?' the dentist had said.)"
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 211 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories
Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories by Elizabeth Strout (Paperback - 7 April 2008)
Used & New from: £0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews