Olive Kitteridge

Elizabeth Strout


Why Olive Kitteridge and Cadillac Mountain

This is a very well written novel by Elizabeth Strout that takes a micro view of characters in Crosby, Maine. Strout was born in Portland, Maine and sets the Pulitzer prize winning novel Olive Kitteridge in her home state. I have the award-winning mini-series on my DVR and can’t wait to watch it on my 52 Peaks holiday break.

I thought long and hard about selecting a Stephen King novel for this peak as he has set so many memorable novels in Maine (my favorite is It). There will be another peak next Spring where I select King and Olive Kitteridge is an excellent novel worthy of a read if you have not read it already.

More About Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge (2008) is a novel by American author Elizabeth Strout. It presents a portrait of the title character and a number of recurring characters in the coastal town of Crosby, Maine. It takes the form of 13 short stories that are interrelated but discontinuous in terms of narrative. It won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. HBO produced a four-part mini-series, based on the novel, featuring Frances McDormand in the title role, which aired on November 2 and 3, 2014. The series won eight awards at the 2015 Primetime Emmys.

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: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance: a former student who has lost the will to live: Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life–sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition–its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOK OF 2008 BY: People • USA Today • The Atlantic • The Washington Post Book World • Seattle Post-Intelligencer • Entertainment Weekly • The Christian Science Monitor • San Francisco Chronicle • Salon • San Antonio Express-News • Chicago Tribune • The Wall Street Journal

Elizabeth Strout has written multiple award winning novels over her early career that include, Amy and Isabelle (1998), Abide with Me (2006), Olive Kitteridge (2008), The Burgess Boys (2013), and most recently, My Name Is Lucy Barton (2016).