Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
I finished reading my book club selection this past weekend. The book won the Pulitzer prize for fiction this year and I really liked Strout’s book Abide with Me so I had high hopes for “Olive”. It was a bit disappointing. I felt very depressed and disheartened after reading the short stories in this collection. Each story could stand on its own…yet the thread that ties it all together is Olive Kitteridge, a retired Math teacher from a small town in Maine. She is not necessarily a likeable character. She is quirky and independently minded. Her husband is a love….I really liked his character. He loved her despite her obvious flaws. Each short story tells the story of someone in town and their problems, flaws, failures, mental condition, etc. There was little hope in most of the stories. It painted a picture of life being very sad and dreary. Strout’s writing is lovely. I enjoyed reading the stories and as typical of late, I didn’t even fall asleep. I even will consider going back and giving a few stories another go around. But the Pulitzer Prize, Please, I couldn’t see it.
We struggle in our club trying to figure out what the rating scale from 1-5 is. I found this on a blog and thought this reflects my rating scale:
Excellent –Perfection! Great story, wonderful characters, riveting action – a real page turner. Definitely a keeper and one I would like to reread. 5 stars
Very Good – Very enjoyable book. Had a few things that annoyed me but didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the story. 4-4.5 stars
Good – Overall, good story but parts of it just didn’t work for me. 3-3.5 stars
Average – An OK book, but nothing special. Some good parts; some bad parts. 2.5 stars
Poor/Disappointing – Definitely did not meet my expectations and/or really didn’t like it that much. 1-2 stars
Don’t Bother/Did not finish – One of the worst things I’ve read (or tried to read). Zero stars
I give Olive Kitteridge a 3 simply because the writing is very nice and I didn’t fall asleep and am considering giving parts of the book a reread.
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