Review of Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
Updated: Jan 13, 2021
Strout is truly a marvel in the way she crafts full, complicated lives through sharing small moments. I loved every bit of this.
Oh, Olive! In Olive, Again, she ambles through town and reflects on aging, on her life, and especially on memories of moments that shaped her life’s direction, her attitude, her viewpoint—and those of the people close to her. Because this is the character of Olive from Olive Kitteridge, these are not saccharine snippets of wisdom from an warm, cozy grandmother. The moments are sometimes sour, sometimes regretful, sometimes heartbreaking, but often lovely in their rough honesty. I could spend days reading about her introspection and her gruff and straightforward ways.
Through Olive and other connected characters in Crosby, Maine, we see secrets, pain, and disappointments laid bare—and we also often get to witness true joy emerge during guileless and unexpected connections with others, although thankfully Strout doesn’t make any of it too easy or perfect.
I love that Olive, in what seems to be a combination of unintentional and intentional acts, alienates anyone relying on interactions built around small talk or any discussion of the weather. Yet she is strong enough to cut to the heart of tough situations and to sit within the pain of them--alone or with others--without shying away.
I worried that a book revisiting Olive might feel indulgent or unnecessary, but this is a deep look at aging, intimacy, love, disappointment, renewed hope, betrayal, and redemption. Strout is truly a marvel in the way she crafts full, complicated lives through sharing small moments. I just love it all!
I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House through NetGalley.
Any Bossy thoughts about this book?
If you've read this one, what did you think?
I'd suggest reading Strout's Olive Kitteridge for context before picking up this book, but I liked this one even more. She's also the author of Anything Is Possible, My Name Is Lucy Barton, The Burgess Boys, and Amy and Isabelle--a book I've had on my to-read list since stumbling upon it in a bookstore when it was first published in 1998, forgetting the title, remembering that it was two women's names, and then a few years ago realizing that this was it. Time to get to that one, I think!
This book is part of the Greedy Reading List Six Book Club Books I Loved Last Year.