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Olive, Again
Cover of Olive, Again
Olive, Again
A Novel
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLEROPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICKPulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout continues the life of her beloved Olive Kitteridge, a character who has captured the imaginations of...
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLEROPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICKPulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout continues the life of her beloved Olive Kitteridge, a character who has captured the imaginations of...
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  • 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 Entertainment Weekly BuzzFeed Esquire Real SimpleGood 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

Excerpts-

  • From the book Labor

    Two days earlier, Olive Kitteridge had delivered a baby.

    She had delivered the baby in the backseat of her car; her car had been parked on the front lawn of Marlene Bonney's house. Marlene was having a baby shower for her daughter, and Olive had not wanted to park behind the other cars lined up on the dirt road. She had been afraid that someone might park behind her and she wouldn't be able to get out; Olive liked to get out. So she had parked her car on the front lawn of the house, and a good thing she had, that foolish girl—her name was Ashley and she had bright blond hair, she was a friend of Marlene's daughter—had gone into labor, and Olive knew it before anyone else did; they were all sitting around the living room on folding chairs and she had seen Ashley, who sat next to her, and who was enormously pregnant, wearing a red stretch top to accentuate this pregnancy, leave the room, and Olive just knew.

    She'd gotten up and found the girl in the kitchen, leaning over the sink, saying, "Oh God, oh God," and Olive had said to her, "You're in labor," and the idiot child had said, "I think I am. But I'm not due for another week."

    Stupid child.

    And a stupid baby shower. Olive, thinking of this as she sat in her own living room, looking out over the water, could not, even now, believe what a stupid baby shower that had been. She said out loud, "Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid." And then she got up and went into her kitchen and sat down there. "God," she said.

    She rocked her foot up and down.

    The big wristwatch of her dead husband, Henry, which she wore, and had worn since his stroke four years ago, said it was four o'clock. "All right then," she said. And she got her jacket—it was June, but not warm today—and her big black handbag and she went and got into her car—which had that gunky stuff still left on the backseat from that foolish girl, although Olive had tried to clean it as best she could—and she drove to Libby's, where she bought a lobster roll, and then she drove down to the Point and sat in her car there and ate the lobster roll, looking out at Halfway Rock.

    A man in a pickup truck was parked nearby, and Olive waved through her window to him but he did not wave back. "Phooey to you," she said, and a small piece of lobster meat landed on her jacket. "Oh, hell's bells," she said, because the mayonnaise had gotten into the jacket—she could see a tiny dark spot—and would spoil the jacket if she didn't get it to hot water fast. The jacket was new, she had made it yesterday, sewing the pieces of quilted blue-and-white swirling fabric on her old machine, being sure to make it long enough to go over her hind end.

    Agitation ripped through her.

    The man in the pickup truck was talking on a cellphone, and he suddenly laughed; she could see him throwing his head back, could even see his teeth as he opened his mouth in his laughter. Then he started his truck and backed it up, still talking on his cellphone, and Olive was alone with the bay spread out before her, the sunlight glinting over the water, the trees on the small island standing at attention; the rocks were wet, the tide was going out. She heard the small sounds of her chewing, and a loneliness that was profound assailed her.

    It was Jack Kennison. She knew this is what she had been thinking of, that horrible old rich flub-dub of a man she had seen for a number of weeks this spring. She had liked him. She had even lain down on his bed with him one day, a month ago now, right next to him, could hear his heart beating as her head lay upon his chest. And she had felt such a rush of...

About the Author-

  • Elizabeth Strout is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Olive Kitteridge, winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Olive, Again, an Oprah's Book Club pick; Anything Is Possible, winner of the Story Prize; My Name is Lucy Barton, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize; The Burgess Boys, named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post and NPR; Abide with Me, a national bestseller; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the International Dublin Literary Award, and the Orange Prize. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker and O: The Oprah Magazine. Elizabeth Strout lives in New York City.

Reviews-

  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2019

    Among a half-dozen award-spangled titles, No. 1 New York Times best-selling author Strout boasts the Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge, whose heroine here remains in Crosby, ME, trying to understand herself and those around her. Calling back Frances McDormand of the HBO series.

    Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from May 15, 2019
    The thorny matriarch of Crosby, Maine, makes a welcome return. As in Strout's Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge (2008, etc.), the formidable title character is always a presence but not always onstage in these 13 interconnected tales of loneliness, loss, and love in its many flawed incarnations. Olive has not become any easier to like since her husband, Henry, died two years ago; "stupid" is a favorite adjective, and "phooey to you" a frequent term of dismissal. But over the course of about a decade we see Olive struggling, in her flinty way, to become "oh, just a tiny--tiny--bit better as a person." Her second marriage, to Jack Kennison, helps. "I like you, Olive," he says. "I'm not sure why, really. But I do." Readers will feel the same, as she brusquely comforts a former student with cancer in "Light" and commiserates with the grieving daughter-in-law she has never much liked in "Motherless Child." Yet that story ends with Olive's desolate conclusion that she is largely responsible for her fraught relationship with her son: "She herself had [raised] a motherless child." Parents are estranged from children, husbands from wives, siblings from each other in this keening portrait of a world in which each of us is fundamentally alone and never truly knows even those we love the most. This is not the whole story, Strout demonstrates with her customary empathy and richness of detail. "You must have been a very good mother," Olive's doctor says after observing Christopher in devoted attendance at the hospital after she has a heart attack, and the daughter of an alcoholic mother and dismissive, abusive father finds a nurturing substitute in her parents' lawyer in "Helped." The beauty of the natural world provides a sustaining counterpoint to charged human interactions in which "there were so many things that could not be said." There's no simple truth about human existence, Strout reminds us, only wonderful, painful complexity. "Well, that's life," Olive says. "Nothing you can do about it." Beautifully written and alive with compassion, at times almost unbearably poignant. A thrilling book in every way.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 5, 2019
    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.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from August 1, 2019
    Has Olive mellowed? She is still irascible, she still speaks her mind with unflinching honesty, but age and the death of her husband, Henry, have worn away some of her edge: "I feel like I've become, oh, just a tiny?tiny?bit better as a person," she says at one point. Strout's latest work?like Olive Kitteridge (2008), a collection of stories set in the coastal town of Crosby, Maine?takes Olive from her early seventies into her eighties, through a surprising marriage to Jack Kennison, a second widowhood, a heart attack, a kind of rapprochement with son Christopher, and, finally, a move into Maple Tree Apartments, "that place for old people." And also like Olive Kitteridge, in several of the stories, Olive steps aside while other characters, some bussed in from Strout's novels, take center stage and lend their own voices and perspectives. Love, loss, regret, the complexities of marriage, the passing of time, and the astonishing beauty of the natural world are abiding themes, along with "the essential loneliness of people" and the choices they make "to keep themselves from that gaping darkness." Unmissable, especially for readers who loved Olive Kitteridge. HIGH DEMAND BACKSTORY: Strout's first outing with Olive was a Pulitzer Prize-winner, an Emmy-winning HBO series, and a book club favorite; expect much reader curiosity for her return to her most beloved curmudgeon.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

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