Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Olive Kitteridge published in 2008, won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. My book club chose to read the book before it became a movie (which I still haven't seen and am not sure I would want to). Not everyone found Olive to be a sympathetic character. She is abrasive and sometimes thoughtless but not a bad person. She may remind you of yourself sometimes.
On November 7, 2019 I received the gift of life - a kidney transplant. Among the wonderful results of this surgery, I was able to start reading once more. I picked up Olive, Again and continued reading where I had left off. The short story "Light" was about Cindy Coombs and dealing with illness. It spoke directly to me.
FIRST LINE: "In the early afternoon on a Saturday in June, Jack Kennison put on his sunglasses, got into his sports car with the top down, strapped the seat belt over his shoulder and across his large stomach, and drove to Portland - almost an hour away - to buy a gallon of whiskey rather than bump into Olive Kitteridge at the grocery store here in Crosby, Maine."
THE STORY: "I do not have a clue who I have been. Truthfully, I do not understand a thing."
Revisiting Elizabeth Strout's iconic character, Olive Kitteridge once again becomes the glue holding together the thirteen interlocking stories about human loneliness. Olive is older now and has begun to experience the trials and tribulations of aging. Some stories hit pretty close to home.
WHAT I THOUGHT: One is always a bit apprehensive when approaching a new book by a loved author especially when it is a sequel, but I found and still find Olive to be a fascinating person.
Both the November (written by Joyce Carol Oates) and December (Oprah's Book Club) issues of Oprah Magazine, stories about Elizabeth Stout's new book Olive, Again. Publication was on October 15, 2019.
One other minor connection was the setting in Maine where we often vacationed when I was growing up. Although Cosby, Maine is fictional, Reid State Park is mentioned and I remember going there to picnic. The author knows how to convey the sense of place in which her characters live.
BOTTOM LINE: I'd read both books. The poignancy that evolves from aging will resonate with readers. The writing is beautiful. The ways Olive appears in the various stories is carefully crafted. Experience Olive for yourself.
Disclaimer: A copy of Olive, Again was provided to me by Random House/Net Galley for an honest review.
Hardcover: 293 pages
Publisher: Random House (October 15, 2019)
Elizabeth Strout is the author of the New York Times bestseller Olive Kitteridge, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; the national bestseller Abide with Me; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in London. She lives in Maine and New York City.