Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
At first I found it hard to get used to the unusual way this book is constructed – more like a series of short stories or vignettes centered (or sometimes not centered) around the main character, Olive Kitteridge. In some stories, she played a prominent role while in others she was merely mentioned as someone in the background.
But since it was a Pulitzer Prize winner, I knew it must have something to offer, so I plodded on. And in fact, this book grew on me as I read it, and I soon found myself relating to Olive as an older woman facing many of life’s challenges. There are not too many books that focus on women past middle age, so it was refreshing to gain new perspective on this stage of life through her character.
From empty-nest syndrome to health concerns, post-traumatic stress to a spouse’s sudden disability, this book takes the reader through real-life situations as seen through the eyes of Olive and other residents of a small town in Maine. And within these characters I recognized many of my own quirks and personality defects … sometimes with amusement but often with dismay.
Give this one a chance and I think it will grow on you too.