EXCERPT: On a Tuesday morning in the middle of September, Olive Kitteridge drove carefully into the parking lot of the marina. It was early—she drove only in the early hours now—and there were not many cars there, as she had expected there would not be. She nosed her car into a space and got out slowly; she was eighty-two years old, and thought of herself as absolutely ancient. For three weeks now she had been using a cane, and she made her way across the rocky pathway, not glancing up so as to be able to watch her footing, but she could feel the early-morning sun and sensed the beauty of the leaves that were turned already to a bright red at the tops of the trees.
Once inside, she sat at a booth that had a view of the ocean and ordered a muffin and scrambled eggs from the girl with the huge hind end. The girl was not a friendly girl; she hadn’t been friendly in the year she’d worked here. Olive stared out at the water. It was low tide, and the seaweed lay like combed rough hair, all in one direction. The boats that remained in the bay sat graciously, their thin masts pointing to the heavens like tiny steeples. Far past them was Eagle Island and also Puckerbrush Island with the evergreens spread across them both, nothing more than a faint line seen from here. When the girl—who practically slung the plate of eggs with the muffin onto the table—said, hands on her hips, “Anything else?,” Olive just gave a tiny shake of her head and the girl walked away, one haunch of white pants moving up then coming down as the other haunch moved up; up and down, huge slabs of hind end.
ABOUT ‘OLIVE AGAIN’: Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire moments of transcendent grace.
MY THOUGHTS: I love Elizabeth Strout’s writing. I loved Olive Kitteridge, but I love Olive Again even more. While Strout meanders through Olive’s life and the lives of those around her, she brings back memories of our own lives, things we have done, and people we have known. She makes us look at our own relationships, the way we treat people, and our expectations of them.
In Olive Again, Strout examines aging, loss, grief, loneliness, and the ways in which we have to adapt both physically and mentally to these challenges. She treats the breaking down of our bodies with empathy and humor. After all, as Olive says, ‘ That’s life, nothing you can do about it.’
I like Olive. More than like her. And I plan on visiting with her frequently.
THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Strout is the author of several novels. She teaches at the Master of Fine Arts program at Queens University of Charlotte.
DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Olive Again written by Elizabeth Strout, narrated by Kimberley Farr, and published by Random House Audio. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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