winter

winter

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Olive Kitteridge

I finished "Olive Kitteridge" (Elizabeth Strout) this morning and as I set the book down on the coffee table, a lingering disappointment that I will not know what happens next in her life settled over me. I suspect I do know what happens next but, Olive will not be here to tell me whether I am right or not.

Set in little Crosby, Maine, where the natives don't waste a lot of words on newcomers, and marriages contain cracks and secrets are kept like glass jars of tomatoes in Grandma's cellar, "Olive Kitteridge" made me feel a part of the landscape for 270 pages. The writing is spartan, much like the speech patterns of said natives, but still exudes warmth and empathy. The book is actually a series of short stories about different townspeople, all woven together by one common element, that being Olive herself.

Olive Kitteridge is one of those people who are larger than life, bigger than the room, scary and overpowering but at the same time, suffering and sad. I was determined not to like her at first. Look at the way she treated her amiable husband, Henry, how she alienated their son, Christopher, the way she talked to everyone around her as if no one's feelings were of any consequence whatsoever.

But, Olive, she is a surprise. Olive is funny and perceptive. Her inner rantings and outer ravings are without a doubt, on the money. She can be suddenly kind, although I suspect she wouldn't want anyone to know that. Olive is deliciously enticing, like an exotic treat.
Here's the thing. What Olive doesn't know is that all those years she spent wishing for an end (a quick end) was wasted in that what she really wanted was a beginning.

I miss Olive, now that I have turned the last page and put the book down. I miss her a lot.

What books are you reading?



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