Olive, Again

by Elizabeth Strout
Olive, Again
by Elizabeth Strout

I embarked on 'Olive Kitteridge' because it was so widely recommended in the media reviews, but also among people I met. And I didn't warm to it at first. The construction as a series of connected short stories proved a surprise! But I soon found myself intrigued by the character of Olive herself - so blunt and cantankerous, and yet misunderstood.

Meeting her again in this second instalment was a real delight. She seems more mellow, more willing to reach out, and she seems more relaxed and accepting of life. We see her in a new relationship which turns to marriage and then widowhood. She still struggles in the relationship with her son, and her grandchildren. She seeks to get alongside her friends and neighbours and give them support and straight talking.

The time period moves swiftly - there seems little opportunity for us to enjoy, with Olive, her second marriage, before he has passed away.

There is one story which sits awkwardly, I felt. A teenage girl, Kayley, takes a cleaning job for a local elderly couple and the tone of the subsequent events seemed misplaced to me in this book.

But I will return to Olive's world time and again, I hope. I loved this book.

 

Review date: November 2019