Book Review: Olive, Again

What a joy it was to spend more time with Olive Kitteridge, still as wry and brutally honest as ever. 

‘Olive, Again’ reunites us with the blunt, yet deeply loveable Olive Kitteridge as she grows older, more self-aware, and comes to terms with the changes within herself and those around her. Returning to Crosby, Maine, Strout skilfully weaves separate stories together, with Olive as the thread, as she explores the profound depths of human nature. Each story is built of quiet melancholy and epiphanies in which characters discover something new about themselves and the people around them. Oh, how strange our feelings are. How temperamental they can be. 

Crosby is a small coastal town brimming with love and friendship. Whether Strout’s characters bump into Olive in the doughnut shop or quote something she once said in maths class, our Mrs. Kitteridge has had a positive impact on a myriad of characters.

 Although Olive is as contentious as ever, she undergoes a steady transformation into a wry elderly woman who is more conscious and accepting. Yes, she’s cantankerous and contradictory, but she cares. She undertakes a journey of self-awareness, even succumbing to the idea of wearing the detestable Depend underwear as she grows into her eighties. It is with this that Strout exhibits her incredible talent for storytelling; eloquently expressing the indignities of old age with quiet acceptance.

Few writers can pack so much emotion into mere sentences; her realistic characters provoking both tears and laughter. It was such a joy to follow their transformations, especially our controversial Olive. The most heart-warming moments were those in which she connected with people who she had previously dismissed, ultimately finding solace in female friendship. Within each character vignette, be it focused on sorrow, joy or longing, Strout brilliantly captures the human experience.

This is an absolute gem of a book that everyone can fall in love with.

Photo Credit: NPR