This month’s Beltway Book Club book was Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.
When this book was nominated at last month’s book club as the “June read”, everyone jumped at it! The winner of the Pulitzer Price in 2009 AND now an HBO Miniseries?? Ding ding ding, I think we have a winner!
Don’t worry, this review doesn’t contain any spoilers… because sadly, there are really no spoilers to give away…
To save you from my attempt at summarizing the book, here is Goodreads to the rescue:
“At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.”
The good news is that I didn’t hate (I know that’s a really strong word) the book, but I had no reason to love it. I had no reason to keep reading late hours into the night or recommend it to a friend. The book was like a story with no real meaning or ending.
I usually love novels that switch up the narrator or have a bunch of little stories in one, but for some reason even that didn’t hold my attention. Olive Kitteridge (the character) was an upset, depressed, debbie-downer of a woman who (even after I finished the book) I never felt I connected with or understood. I wanted to shake her and tell her to snap out of it! And her poor, loyal husband just sat there and took her sour attitude. That man deserves a hug… and a drink.
The book is made up of 13 short stories where Olive has a role in each. I forgot all about her in about four of them. Her role is sometimes so small that if you are too focused on the new story, you can miss this overarching “theme”.
There was just one of the 13 stories at the end of the book I enjoyed. It was when Olive found Jack Kennison, because that’s what finally make her a real person to me. She was still old and senile but since he was too, it softened her a bit. I won’t give it away, but if you make it that far into the book where Jack comes into the picture, have faith that at least one of the 13 stories has a (kind of) happy ending.
How did this book win a Pulitzer Prize??? Don’t get me started on that rant….
Tomorrow night the club meets to discuss the novel over tasty apps and glasses of wine (that’s sure to make discussing the book a bit easier) and select our next read!
PLEASE, I beg of you, share with me your best book recommendations (less than 300 pages) so our book club can come together with raving reviews (instead of half the crew struggling to get through the first 50 pages and giving up). Thanks in advance!
Note: Yes, this is also lime & salt Skinny Girl Popcorn like yesterday… I’m obsessed!