In a series of thirteen vignettes, author Elizabeth Strout sets out to illuminate a small town in coastal Maine and one of its inhabitants, a retired schoolteacher named Olive Kitteridge.
Readers are the voyeurs in Olive Kitteridge. While we peep into the lives of a piano player in a lounge, a troubled teenage girl, and Olive's own husband and son (among others), we see people dealing with all sorts of problems... and we see that Olive is-- for the most part-- considered to be a rather unpleasant and unpredictable force of nature. But as our knowledge of the people of Crosby, Maine increases so does Olive's self-awareness. The lessons she learns are sometimes painful and always ruthlessly honest.
I loved how my understanding of the characters deepened with each new chapter. Initially seen in an unflattering light, some characters changed as the light shone upon them from different angles.
This is a little gem, although I can see some readers believing that nothing ever happens in it. I found this book to be mesmerizing and to contain one brilliant character study after another. Quiet, unassuming writing can sometimes wield great power and beauty, and this is exactly what I found in the pages of Olive Kitteridge.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Random House © 2008
eBook, 271 pages
Source: Purchased from Amazon.