RaveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewElizabeth Strout’s new ‘novel in stories’ brings to life a hardscrabble community on the coast of Maine...but Olive Kitteridge is provincial only in a literal sense … 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 … Strout’s prose is quickened by her use of the ‘free indirect’ style, in which a third-person narrator adopts the words or tone a particular character might use … The pleasure in reading Olive Kitteridge comes from an intense identification with complicated, not always admirable, characters.
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
PositiveThe Washington PostHer new book reflects a more expansive, pluralistic view of women’s experience ... Ulrich calls her book 'a kind of quilt,' in a nod to a quilt that many of the women made in Salt Lake City. There is indeed a kind of patchwork quality to it, a mix of close reading, careful contextualizing (often in a dry, academic tone), and intimate investigations into the lives of women as they grappled with their challenging lives and even more challenging feelings — and the difficult questions of consent and power that their new arrangements entailed ... Ulrich considers seriously the religious motivation for women’s acceptance of a practice that was considered repugnant by many Americans, but she also tracks the various economic, social, psychological and political ramifications of plural marriage carefully.
PositiveThe Washington PostTaylor has done a remarkable job synthesizing and interpreting recent scholarship that explores the global dynamics of the conflicts, as well as scholarship that situates the social history of women, Native Americans and especially slaves alongside the more traditional story of the white men who wrote pamphlets and picked up muskets ... Taylor approaches the revolution not narratively or even thematically...The result is — perhaps necessarily — scattered and sometimes hard to read. In forsaking the idea of an orderly revolution, Taylor has also discarded the cleanliness of a narrative with a beginning, middle and end. He uses vignettes to illustrate his points, often featuring familiar names, but often to complicate the myth of the American founding, not to reinforce it.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewNicolson makes it easy to see why she would be fascinated by her family, especially the women. In quick, colorful strokes, she sketches a series of vivid portraits ... She is a marvelous writer, with a wonderful eye for detail, but despite the intelligence and honesty of her voice, it can also seem distant and, despite that honesty, restrained.