Olive, Again

by Elizabeth Strout

I read My Name is Lucy Barton a while back and enjoyed the voice, the contemporary feel of it and the way that relationships were explored without having the point thrust on you, so strangely it’s taken me a couple of years to return to reading Elizabeth Strout, for she’s truly a fine, fine, fine, fine writer.

Olive Kitteridge is a remarkable character, meeting her in fiction has been a ride.  Just imagine meeting her in person? Just think if she was your next door neighbour…

She’s forthright and challenging and an absolute hoot.

Olive, Again I believe is Strout’s second book focusing on Olive Kitteridge (though I haven’t fact checked with google), the former Olive Kitteridge – I can’t wait to embrace.

Every page of Olive, Again is full of so much information.  It’s not weighing you down, or crowding you, but stimulates the story flow.

It’s interesting, weaved together in an impressive collection of need to read on and learn, but also stay here and experience the moment.

I was halfway through and realised that this collection could be almost experienced as a selection of stand-alone short stories, with Olive the thread.

Strout expertly dissects relationships. She takes the pressure of you to wish to conform, for all the characters are ‘normal’ though may have had dysfunctional upbringings and/or dysfunctional themselves. And that’s okay…I think…well that was my take home from it.

I was thinking that I’d explore the chapters with you, but now realise not only would that flatten your reading, but it would also trample on the joy of experiencing this book.

So, with no intention to spoil, the chapter titles fit perfectly with their tale and what is revealed is not just personal, but also a lesson for us all.

Experience moulds us and sometimes we need to learn to adapt, though this might not be part of our nature.

We also need to be a little Olive Kitteridge. Be more direct, ask tough questions and speak our mind. There are a lot of people feeling isolated and without that kind of interference, potentially they will struggle further.

We could all also benefit from speaking the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable and not the norm, for by doing so we can all reach a clearer, better understanding of each other and how to live in harmony.

Enjoy reading.