The thorny matriarch of Crosby, Maine, makes a return. Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine.
Syllable for syllable, it’s stunning work—arguably better than the original ... these stories create a world almost unbearably addictive for its beautiful, agonized truths ... wave upon wave of unflinching insight, delivered in language so clean it shines. Sentences flow in simplest words and clearest order—yet line after line hammers home some of the most complex human rawness you’ll ever read ... Strout dwells with uncanny immediacy inside the minds and hearts of a dazzling range of ages ... Olive, Again transcends and triumphs. The naked pain, dignity, wit and courage these stories consistently embody fill us with a steady, wrought comfort.
...Strout persuades us that Crosby matters, and so do its people ... More important, though, than Crosby having its share of the stuff of which flashier drama is made, is Strout’s careful attention to the humdrum, quotidian experience that gradually accretes grandeur simply by dint of going on and on through decades. Banal loss ...becomes tragic, and the pleasure of a haphazardly begun new friendship between two incontinent old women seems as redemptive as romantic love ... However you choose to classify them...the Olive collections have the amplitude and emotional subtlety of the most generously comprehensive novels. Within the span of these taut, laconic little tales there is room for characters to show feeling from several levels of their being – only some of which they are aware of. They develop. They change their minds ... Strout’s control of her narrative is so sure that she can manage the transition, deftly acknowledging its comedy, while allowing us as well to feel how moving is Olive’s inarticulate wonder. What a thing indeed! These new stories confirm that in Olive Kitteridge, Strout has created one of those rare characters – think of Falstaff, Becky Sharp, James Bond – so vivid and humorous that they seem to take on a life independent of the story framing them.
Olive Kitteridge, the deliciously funny and unforgettable miserabilist at the heart of Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2008 novel that bore her name, fully deserves the sensitive and satisfying follow-up that Strout has written about her ... One of the strengths of Strout’s novel is that she realistically details the uncertainty and ambivalence, the revulsion and attraction, that these stubborn, no longer young people experience in each other’s company ... Ever empathic and intuitive, Strout delves into their begrudging romance ... Olive, Again doesn’t presume that the reader is familiar with Olive Kitteridge, and occasionally clunky recaps bring newcomers up to speed.