NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout continues the life of her beloved Olive Kitteridge, a character who has captured the imaginations of millions.
“Strout managed to make me love this strange woman I’d never met, who I knew nothing about. What a terrific writer she is.”—Zadie Smith, The Guardian
“Just as wonderful as the original . . . Olive, Again poignantly reminds us that empathy, a requirement for love, helps make life ‘not unhappy.’”—NPR
NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PEOPLE AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Time • Vogue • NPR • The Washington Post • Chicago Tribune • Vanity Fair • Entertainment Weekly • BuzzFeed • Esquire • Real Simple • Good Housekeeping • The New York Public Library • The Guardian • Evening Standard • Kirkus Reviews • Publishers Weekly • BookPage
Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire us—in Strout’s words—“to bear the burden of the mystery with as much grace as we can.”
Praise for Olive, Again
“Olive is a brilliant creation not only because of her eternal cantankerousness but because she’s as brutally candid with herself about her shortcomings as she is with others. Her honesty makes people strangely willing to confide in her, and the raw power of Ms. Strout’s writing comes from these unvarnished exchanges, in which characters reveal themselves in all of their sadness and badness and confusion. . . . The great, terrible mess of living is spilled out across the pages of this moving book. Ms. Strout may not have any answers for it, but she isn’t afraid of it either.”—The Wall Street Journal
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Whether or not you already know Olive Kitteridge—the prickly heroine Elizabeth Strout first introduced to the world in 2008—we’re certain that Olive, Again will make you fall in love with her little slice of the world. The book draws us into Olive’s richly layered inner life and explores the changing landscape—human and otherwise—of her small Maine town. Strout’s affection for Olive is clear as day, even when she does and says things that are small and mean. She portrays her entire cast of characters with a warm lack of sentimentality these gruff Yankees would undoubtedly appreciate, delivering an unflinching look at aging, loneliness, and the chasms that can open up within families. This novel is a marvel—in no small part because it reminds us to love hard and well while we can.
As direct, funny, sad, and human as its heroine, Strout's welcome follow-up to Olive Kitteridge portrays the cantankerous retired math teacher in old age. The novel, set in small-town coastal Crosby, Maine, unfolds like its predecessor through 13 linked stories. "Arrested" begins just after the first novel ends, with 74-year-old widower Jack Kennison wooing 73-year-old Olive. "Motherless Child" follows the family visit when Olive tells her son she plans to marry Jack. In "Labor," Olive awkwardly admires gifts at a baby shower, then efficiently delivers another guest's baby. Olive also offers characteristic brusque empathy to a grateful cancer patient in "Light," and, in "Heart," to her own two home nurses one a Trump supporter, one the daughter of a Somali refugee. "Helped" brings pathos to the narrative, "The End of the Civil War Days" humor, "The Poet" self-recognition. Jim Burgess of Strout's The Burgess Boys comes to Crosby to visit brother Bob ("Exiles"). Olive, in her 80s, living in assisted care, develops a touching friendship with fellow resident Isabelle from Amy and Isabelle ("Friend"). Strout's stories form a cohesive novel, both sequel and culmination, that captures, with humor, compassion, and embarrassing detail, aging, loss, loneliness, and love. Strout again demonstrates her gift for zeroing in on ordinary moments in the lives of ordinary people to highlight their extraordinary resilience.
Prickly Olive is As Lovable As Ever!
It's wonderful to pick up a book that so immediately and skillfully plunges you into the small, everyday events that make us all human. Just like her first book (Olive Kitteridge), Elizabeth Strout takes us into the orbit of Maine-born-and-raised Olive -- now older, retired, and just as prickly and wise.
Like the first book, this sequel reads like a series of short stories about individuals in and around the small town of Crosby, Maine. Some are Olive's former students. Others, her neighbors. But each has a deeply touching story to tell about the everyday pain people routinely carry, their own resilience, and the kind of love and relationships that brings meaning to our lives.
Whether it's a young woman visiting the burned down ruins of her family home, or a Civil War enthusiast who uses the dog to speak to his wife, or the residents of an assisted living facility struggling to find community -- each has a valuable and emotional story to tell. All of them, connected in some way to crusty but lovable Olive.
Strange and Sad.
Very sad. I kept reading it ... thinking there had to be a point .. beyond reminding all of us that we are going to die. Sorry, I just don’t think that we need that reminder. Strange and sad.
Olive Again Review
Olive Again was sweet and rather poignant. We get to see Olive in a different light. Now she’s at the end of her life and has become reflective. It’s a place that hopefully we will eventually face.