Forceful. The thirteen connected stories in Elizabeth Strout’s new collection titled, Olive Kitteridge, are set principally in Maine, and combine to produce what feels like a novel, and a comprehensive view of a memorable character. Olive could readily be called “a piece of work.” Her forceful character, formed by rugged Maine life, dominates these stories. As schoolteacher, friend, wife, mother and grandmother, she comes alive on these pages with the full package of strengths, weaknesses and quirks that make for an authentic human personality. Olive notices everything, has an opinion about the ways things should be, and often runs roughshod over everyone in her life, while she truly enjoys the love and beauty of life. Olive Kitteridge offers fine writing, especially to those readers who enjoy both the precision of the short story genre, and the sweep of continuity from viewing a character from multiple perspectives and time periods. Reading a story a day for two weeks may feel like a vacation in Maine, even in the story when Olive visits her son in New York.
Rating: Three-star (Recommended)