Back to Book Club! The past couple of months, life got in the way, but I very happily got to spend time with my favourite bunch of readers this month to talk about out selection, Olive Kitteridge, chosen by Lisa. It was a small crew this month, but even the usually-hates-everything member was into this one. Woah. There is plenty to chew on in this book, that’s for sure, so it’s a good one for a group, if you have a book club, too, or just want some heartier fare.

olive-kitteridge-2.jpgOlive Kitteridge
by Elizabeth Strout

Random House
978 0 8129 7183 5

This novel is composed of a series of short stories about people who share their lives with the main character, Olive, in one way or another. Nearly all of the stories take place in the small town of Crosby, Maine, and many of them centre around loneliness, loss, and betrayals large and small. It’s not a chipper book, and the ending had me positively in tears, but it is extremely strong on writing and evoking emotion and the small details that make people.

To be honest, I found it a bit tough to get fully immersed at the start for the simple reason that I really don’t love the main character, and not being invested in what happens to her is hard for me as a reader. She starts out very unsympathetic, but the interesting thing is that as each story passes, as she gets older and you see more facets of her, she becomes someone you can at least feel for, even though I never did get to a point of liking her. By the end, her confusion and loneliness is palpable and truly saddening, and it even leads her to start letting go of the anger and stubbornness that has been her hallmark until that point.

It’s certainly a book that makes you think – think about your assumptions about life and the future and people around you. It is also a book that contains moments of emotion and situations that are sure to resonate with anyone here and there, even if the whole does not, for the author is so very skilled at making those things true to life and recognizable in the everyday. This really was a very worthwhile read.

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