By Elizabeth Strout
Buy this book from hive.co.uk to support The Reading Agency and local bookshops at no additional cost to you.
Olive, Again follows the blunt, contradictory yet deeply loveable Olive Kitteridge as she grows older, navigating the second half of her life as she comes to terms with the changes – sometimes welcome, sometimes not – in her own existence and in those around her.
Olive adjusts to her new life with her second husband, challenges her estranged son and his family to accept him, experiences loss and loneliness, witnesses the triumphs and heartbreaks of her friends and neighbours in the small coastal town of Crosby, Maine – and, finally, opens herself to new lessons about life.Tweet
Olive is back for a second outing. She is still living in the small town of Crosby in Maine, her first husband has died and her semi-estranged son is with his new family in New York. Now in the latter part of her life, Olive is still She gives a snapshot of life in small time America by telling a number of interconnected short stories featuring various residents of the town, although Olive appears in all of them, sometimes peripherally and sometimes in a leading role.
I hadn’t been a great fan of Olive in her first outing but this book restored my faith in both the author and her character. I had previously thought she was prickly and not terribly likeable whereas this time round she was much more endearing. She showed a vulnerable side to her character as she struggled to come to terms with the latter part of her life and confront some of her fears and doubts, as well as striving to understand the world around her and the people that inhabit it. All this is done in her usual indomitable, down-to-earth and very honest way. I love the format which Elizabeth Strout uses in both this and a lot of her other books. Various characters that we meet along the way pop in and out of other people’s stories and the way they intertwine to give a complete picture is very clever indeed. Each short story is itself worthy of praise as it relays the daily life of very ordinary people, proving the point that “everybody has a story to tell”. The stories are not necessarily dramatic (although some are) but they are compelling because they are so very real.
As far as I am concerned, there is not really any down side to this book.
I would recommend this book whole-heartedly to anyone. Whilst I do not think it is necessary to have read the first in the “Olive” series in order to enjoy this one, it would certainly give background information which may make the second book more meaningful. I will certainly be looking out for all Elizabeth Strout’s other books and can’t wait to read them.
After reading her first book I was eager to make my reacquaintance with this unforgettable character. This novel did not disappoint, and was one of those books you simply did not want to finish. Splendid!