Bears, Beets, Book Club: Olive Kitteridge
Updated: Apr 12
Welcome back to Bears, Beets, Book Club (if you don't understand the name of this illustrious book club, you need to bone up on your Office references). This time, we're "discussing" Olive Kitteridge a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Elizabeth Strout.
Here's the summary from Amazon:
At the edge of the continent, Crosby, Maine, may seem like nowhere, but seen through this brilliant writer’s eyes, it’s in essence the whole world, and the lives that are lived there are filled with all of the grand human drama—desire, despair, jealousy, hope, and love.
At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her...
Olive Kitteridge is one of those books that sticks with you long after you’ve finished. Not in an obvious, jarring way – the way a mystery novel with a surprise ending does – but in a way that lingers softly just outside of your train of thought.
The book delves into Olive's life and her critical perspective of everything and everyone around her, breaking off throughout to spotlight others in Olive's universe. This approach to the story really gives you an appreciation for why the old cliche "don't judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes" is so important.
Olive may deem a person unworthy of attention and time because of one interaction with the person. As the reader, we know the details of that person's life; the heartbreak, the struggles, and the hope. It's not long before it becomes clear that Olive may not be the best judge of character.
While I may not have liked the person that Olive was, I was very invested in her story. Would she be able to put her ego aside and reconcile with her son? Would she be open to finding love again in her old age? Can she say something nice to someone for once?!
And the writing, my goodness the writing: it's exceptional. Strout creates such a vivid world of characters in this small town in Maine that sometimes it felt as though I was reading non-fiction. The details, the small touches of emotion or tension. It's really quite impressive.
Turns out, this book was also made into a limited series by HBO.
What have you been reading?