I was a huge fan of “Olive Kittredge” when it came out back in 2008. Strout does such a magical job creating a whole cast of characters with heart (as well as a bit of grit). Perhaps Strout’s greatest achievement has been Olive herself: a woman who is definitely not afraid to speak her mind (even if it offends). In this sequel, we get introduced to even more characters who populate the sleepy Maine town of Crosby. We also get to see Olive in her golden years – although getting old is certainly not for sissies (as my great-grandma would say). Olive learns to love and to relate better to those who are different from her as she ages. Her heart gets broken several times, only to be re-mended each time she bonds with someone new. I love Strout’s ability to weave stories together, and I’m definitely a fan of interconnected characters (like how Olive pops up for a moment in some stories while narrating others). But in this go-around, I found myself wanting to focus solely on Olive and her heartbreaks and triumphs. Maybe it’s because I read the first book a long time ago and couldn’t remember a lot of the plot or secondary characters. I might have enjoyed the other characters’ perspectives more if I had done a reread of the first novel. Either way, I wanted more focus on Olive and found the chapters about her to be the most satisfying. Overall, I truly love Strout’s writing style (poetic, yet realistically depressing), and I’m so excited that Oprah’s book club pick will probably mean she gets some new fans.
*Free ARC provided by Random House and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*