Strout's previous novels, Abide with Me and Amy and Isabelle, were also set in New England and explored similar themes: family dynamics, small-town gossip, grief. Those books were good; this one is better. It manages to combine the sustained, messy investigation of the novel with the flashing insight of the short story. By its very structure, sliding in and out of different tales and different perspectives, it illuminates both what people understand about others and what they understand about themselves.
Louisa Thomas - New York Times
There are glimmers of warmth, of human connection, in even the darkest of these stories. Strout's benevolence toward her characters forms a slender bridge between heartbreak and hope, a dimly glimpsed path through minefields of despair. The stifled sorrows she writes of here are as real as our own, and as tenderly, compassionately understood.
Molly Gloss - Washington Post
Funny, wicked and remorseful, Mrs. Kitteridge is a compelling life force, a red-blooded original. When she’s not onstage, we look forward to her return. The book is a page-turner because of her.
San Francisco Chronicle
Perceptive, deeply empathetic . . . Olive is the axis around which these thirteen complex, relentlessly human narratives spin themselves into Elizabeth Strout’s unforgettable novel in stories.
O, The Oprah Magazine
The whitecaps in the harbor, some familiar piano chords, the doughnut a man brings to his wife after visiting his lover—Strout animates the ordinary with an astonishing force. These linked stories introduce the inhabitants of Crosby, Maine, where the pull of domestic tragedy is stronger for rarely being spoken of. Angela doesn’t mention the bruises she’s noticed on her mother’s arm at the nursing home; Marlene learns of her husband’s infidelity only after his funeral; Kevin plans to shoot himself, like his mother before him. And there in every story, like a tree that’s been blackened by lightning but still leafs in the spring, stands Olive Kitteridge, a retired math teacher who loves her tulips, bullies her husband, and barks at anyone foolish enough to irritate her. You loathe this woman at the book’s beginning; you long for her at its finish. Strout makes us experience not only the terrors of change but also the terrifying hope that change can bring: she plunges us into these churning waters and we come up gasping for air.
The New Yorker
(Starred review.) Thirteen linked tales from Strout present a heart-wrenching, penetrating portrait of ordinary coastal Mainers living lives of quiet grief intermingled with flashes of human connection.... [T]he collection is easy to read and impossible to forget. Its literary craft and emotional power will surprise readers unfamiliar with Strout.
Strout tracks Olive Kitteridge's adult life through 13 linked stories.... Even when Olive is kept in the background of some of the tales, her influence is apparent. Readers will have to decide for themselves whether it's worth the ride to the last few pages to witness Olive's slide into something resembling insight. —Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI
(Starred review.) Though loneliness and loss haunt these pages, Strout also supplies gentle humor and a nourishing dose of hope. —Mary Ellen Quinn
The abrasive, vulnerable title character sometimes stands center stage, sometimes plays a supporting role in these 13 sharply observed dramas of small-town life from Strout... Strout's sensitive insights and luminous prose affirm life's pleasures.... A perfectly balanced portrait of the human condition, encompassing plenty of anger, cruelty and loss without ever losing sight of the equally powerful presences of tenderness, shared pursuits and lifelong loyalty.
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