In Olive, Again Elizabeth Strout once again makes exquisite fiction from the stuff of ordinary lives, as the Pulitzer Prize-winning author addresses mortality in thirteen anecdotes set in Crosby, Maine, linked by the presence of Olive Kitteridge.
It occurs to me that, in fiction, old age is sometimes treated with acrid sentimentality or totally ridiculed. Rare is the writer capable of examining the inevitability of the human condition with gracefulness and astuteness. Ageing is both a rite of passage and a process of discovery, and through the experiences of Olive, Strout evokes trenchant of insights from the most nuanced of interactions. As Strout charts a decade in Olive’s life we witness her evolution, from the notoriously thorny matriarch to, well, as Olive puts it, “just a tiny—tiny—bit better” of a person. But still Olive. Always, Olive.
In a year of brilliant literary fiction — Patchett’s The Dutch House, Parrett’s There Was Still Love, Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys — Strout’s latest sits among that echelon. A book to love, and to be returned to, and loved again.
Number Of Pages: 272
Available: 5th November 2019
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd