Book of the Month – September
Off the Shelf –
Book of the Month
This month’s book was Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. This book was winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2009. Elizabeth Strout offers profound insights into the complexities of human relationships – its various chapters share the conflicts, tragedies and joys of life from the smallest incidental moments to people’s exploration of their life’s journey. In both the darkest and joyous passages of the book we can find our own parallels of emotions.
Olive Kitteridge, is a retired schoolteacher, living in the town of Crosby, Maine. She doesn’t always recognise the changes in those around her and the bluntness in her responses can almost knock the reader off balance. At times this results in the most poignant and sensitive scenes which continue to play out in the reader’s mind long after the book has been put down. Olive’s relationships with her grown up son Christopher and husband Henry are extremely complex as both parties feel unbalanced by her irrational sensitivities.
As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life – sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Elizabeth Strout is magnificent in allowing us to slip into a character’s viewpoint. She can leave us sensing something dark or life sustaining but always there is hope. There is a simple honesty that weaves itself throughout the book: that we need to try to understand people even if we don’t particularly like them. The Book Club members loved it and gave it an overall score of 9/10
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