Where's the book?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

#18: Something special (no, that's not the name of the book)

I can be pretty darn perverse. When everyone else is kvelling over some new novel, my first reaction is: nope, not interested. When all the people round me say, it’s beautiful, moving, brilliant, my first thought is: no interest. From earliest childhood I’ve always hated any sentence that started with, “You should...” But that’s a subject for another time, another therapy session.

However, you should read Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge. I didn’t when it first came out (see paragraph above) and now I have and I am so glad I did. I may just go out and pick up The Burgess Boys, her recently-published (to great reviews) novel and her two earlier novels, Abide with Me and Amy and Isabelle .

Olive Kitteridge is a series of interconnected stories, all featuring, to a greater or lesser degree, the retired schoolteacher Olive Kitteridge. Except for one story focusing on her husband Henry, most of the book is set during Olive’s later years. The writing is beautiful in its simplicity, reminding me at times of Jhumpa Lahiri’s compassionate, clear, unfussy prose. It also made me think of Jane Austen’s writings, in its observance, in the everyday, of all the many aspects of human behavior, the large in the small. The book takes a very tiny place—a coastal town in Maine—and sees the entire rich, dramatic, complicated world. I loved Olive, I hated Olive, I felt sympathy for Olive. It’s a marvelously human and humane novel and I loved every minute of it. 

The moral of the story

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