'Olive Again' by Elizabeth Strout marks the return of the beloved fictional character and book 'Olive Kitteridge' which was a Pulitzer Prize winning novel as well as a popular HBO mini-series. 'Olive Again' takes the reader back to coastal Maine revisiting the touching human stories of ‘small town life’ in this wonderful collection.
BY ELIZABETH STROUT
'Olive Again' marks the return of the beloved fictional character 'Olive Kitteridge' which was a Pulitzer Prize winning book as well as a popular HBO mini-series. A timely novel which touches on the increasingly invisible 'shielding' community and as a book club this couldn't have been more endearing. Written by Elizabeth Strout, 'Olive Again' takes the reader back to coastal Maine revisiting the touching human stories of ‘small town life’ in this wonderful collection in which Olive, now a cranky retired school teacher, headlines the narrative, and sometimes passes through as an insightful, blunt, observer. Published in 2019, it makes a touching, nostalgic and popular missed opportunity for Olive fans. But you don't have to read her earlier adventures.
Praised for her ability to effortlessly capture human nature and the exploration of the individual through her cast of characters, Strout picks up on Olive’s world in the autumn of her life with new relationships and challenges of her circumstance and age.
It’s a breeze to read and every word, observation and commentary comes with an inner compassion and perception. "in February… if you really looked. You could see how at the end of each day the world seemed cracked open and the extra light made its way across the stark trees and promised. It promised, that light, and what a thing that was. As Cindy lay on her bed she could see this even now, the gold of the last light opening the world.".
It might make you sad – because it explores ‘end of life’ scenarios. It might remind you of your own family circumstances or it might make you enjoy Olive’s freedom of expression. Simply saying it how it is! The Den founds lots to talk about, triggering our own amusing tales of indiscretions and tackling our 'older' self. With family in mind, many living in isolation, the group were able to connect with the challenges of maturing into 'the twilight years, as well as appreciating Olive's boldness and her laissez faire attitude to living life to the full.
Love Olive or irritated by her actions, your book club should relish this novel, especially as this generation of our community found themselves so 'out of reach' for too long during the pandemic. Time to reflect, appreciate and maybe laugh a little or lots as we did in the Den.