Last Tuesday night we met to discuss the book, Olive Kittredge, by Elizabeth Strout. We had a good turnout of readers, and two new women joined the group.
Reactions to the book were mixed, although there was no one who totally disliked it. Many in the group commented on the great writing, the fully developed characters, and the well defined visuals that made the story come alive. These remarks were counterbalanced by several people describing the story as dark and depressing.
Or, I should say, stories, since the book is written as separate tales within every chapter instead of as one continual plotline. Many of us found that to be confusing. Many of us found the abrupt endings to the chapters frustrating.
Our conversations about Olive herself allowed for a lot of laughter in our meeting. We all admitted to knowing someone who was as brash as she seemed to be. Some of us saw a little of ourselves in parts of her. And the author did a good job of showing us Olive's tender side, so that little by little, as we began to know Olive better, we began to understand and like her more.
This was the first book we have chosen in our club that some readers found a second reading to be more meaningful, and others are planning to reread the book for a deeper understanding.
Read more about the author at her web site: http://elizabethstrout.com
View the awarding of the Pulitzer Prize for this novel at: http://www.pulitzer.org/citation/2009-Fiction