Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hanging out at Home

Fun new developments in my world: STREP THROAT! Ergh.

So, because I'm all contagious until I've been on my meds for 24 hours, I'm at home today. La la la la bored. Dan suggested curling up on the couch this afternoon with the dog and some cocoa and watching a movie while the world falls apart outside (we're supposed to get some weather today) but... the main symptom of me being sick is me feeling very contrary and nothing we own or on TV sounds good to watch. Y'all are lucky I'm home alone today. CRANKY CRANKY CRANKY PANTS.

I just got mad at the refrigerator for failing to magically provide cranberry juice even though I know full well that I drank it all last night. WHAT DO YOU MEAN MY FRIDGE DOESN'T MAGICALLY MAKE THE FOOD I WANT? SINCE WHEN?

See, even in blog land, I'm all shouty. Maybe because I have strep, so I can't shout in real life.

Anyway, let's talk about some books, shall we? Today we feature a book written for grownups.

Olive Kitteridge: Fiction Elizabeth Strout

Interestingly, my copy is not subtitled fiction, but rather "a novel in stories" which is more descriptive. For Olive Kitteridge is indeed a collection of short stories, all revolving around the small town of Crosby, Maine or its dominating title character, Olive.

I don't think I've ever read a book before with the elderly as main characters.

Olive is loud and outspoken, moody and unexpectedly and quietly kind. We first meet her in a story largely about her husband and his relationship with an employee as juxtaposed with the his relationship with his wife. We then see her as she talks to one of her former students, a young man who has returned to main to kill himself. We see Olive briefly in a story about a troubled piano player. There are two stories that focus on her son and how Olive effects his relationships with women. There are two stories (one strongly featuring Olive, the other one only having her make a brief appearance) with two different takes on how a marriage changes in the empty nest years.

Throughout the book, Strout offers us a glimpse into the tangled and troubled lives of people in a small town, where everyone knows everyone else. She compassionately tells the stories of people caught in a changing world they don't always understand. She tackles grief and pain and the emotions of aging with a steady and clear hand.

Overall, she tells a wonderful story about a complicated woman--a week after reading the book, I still can't decide if I like Olive Kitteridge or not. Overall, a compelling and strong read.

Publication Date: April 2008

Full Disclosure: ARC provided by Random House through Library Thing's Early Reviewer Program.

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