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Olive Kitteridge Audiobook

Olive Kitteridge

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Audible Editor Reviews

Tart, sorrowful Olive Kitteridge is the moody battle-ax intersecting each of Elizabeth Strout's exquisitely spare new "novel in stories". Imperfect and struggling, Strout's characters grind through the dulling routines of ordinary domestic life in churchgoing Crosby, Maine: the drudgery of fixing supper night after night or shivering through a lukewarm show. They are awkward but authentic. "Patrick McCarthy...perspired so much that splotches of his shirt would be wet, at times even down over his breasts, so the poor fellow looked to be lactating," observes Strout.

Olive is a retired math teacher with the habit of saying "these weird things, very powerfully", which agitates her students, natch. Henry, her husband, is a gentle pharmacist who dispenses "pills and syrups and syringes" yet cannot cure his own wife's destructive eruptions. Their melancholy son, Christopher, grows into a distant teenager then a brittle adult. He inherits his mother's tormented relationship with depression.

Olive and Henry don't anchor all 13 tales. Points of view shift, revealing a wistful lounge singer and the 11-year-old daughter of a cracked former beauty queen among them. Narrator Sandra Burr mostly nails the flat, dawdling Down East accent ("ayuh") of coastal Maine. She refines Olive's bluster by pitching her voice low and slow and growly, thus hinting at the despondency behind Olive's attacks. As for ponderous Henry, Burr permeates his dialogue with apologetic throat-clearings to channel how "inwardly, he suffered the quiet trepidations of a man who had witnessed twice in childhood the nervous breakdowns of a mother".

Burr isn't showy about her extraordinary range, though she easily could be. Olive Kitteridge thrives largely because she invests each character with distinguishable emotions. Nina White, anorexic and wasting into bones, begins all zippy teen inflection and finishes in subdued, unlit tones. Burr embodies Kevin, a young psychiatrist revisiting his mother's suicide, with the raw rasp of a hurting dude. The single misstep Burr makes in an otherwise faultless audio rendering is oozing too much buttery lilt as Jane, a housewife who kicks up her 75-year-old husband's adulterous betrayal in the midst of revived marital bliss.

Strout chronicles love, loss, infidelity, and aging within the cyclical framework of time passing. Christopher divorces, remarries, and fathers a child. Henry suffers a massive stroke, becomes paralyzed, then dies. Olive shows herself to be capable of deep kindness and vulnerability. When zonked by an unexpected romance with a widower while still grieving Henry, 74-year-old Olive puzzles, "Here they were...two slices of Swiss cheese pressed together, such holes they brought to this union - what pieces life took out you." And, with that, Olive Kitteridge's redemption becomes a fait accompli. —Nita Rao

Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2009

At the edge of the continent, Crosby, Maine, may seem like nowhere, but seen through this brilliant writer's eyes, it's in essence the whole world. The lives that are lived there are filled with all of the grand human dramas: desire, despair, jealousy, hope, and love.

At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive's own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

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. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition - its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

©2008 Elizabeth Strout; (P)2008 Brilliance Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (1889 )
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Performance
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  •  
    triplesss 06-23-16
    triplesss 06-23-16

    ky girl

    ratings
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    19
    4
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    "Only for us of a certain age!"

    I had a little difficulty following some of the changes in characters and story line, partly because I listened to the book and didn't have the visual cues of chapter breaks. At first the writing style seemed a little choppy. I'm not sure why the book is titled as it is--but I guess all the other characters serve to help the reader understand Olive. Overall, the book seems to be a comment on aging. A developmental process. A pugnacious, perspicacious comment!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carlos Rosario 05-22-16 Member Since 2017
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    2
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    "Watch the Miniseries Twice!"

    Loved it especially the emd. My opinion, most relatable to mature women. make it a play

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie 05-18-16
    Julie 05-18-16 Member Since 2009
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    456
    3
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    "Difficult and disjointed."

    The individual stories were interesting, but as a novel it was difficult to find the common thread and felt disjointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joziecole San Francisco 04-25-16
    Joziecole San Francisco 04-25-16 Member Since 2010

    Audio book addict.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    Performance
    Story
    "Is there an Olive in all of us?"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book to certain friends. This is not a book that will be embraced by the "page turning", "book to take to the beach" crowd. This is a subtle, nuanced character study and it will break your heart if you let it. And the characters will live inside you for a long time. The other reviews about the narrator were wrong. I almost didn't purchase this audio book because of those reviews. I am picky about narrators and have a slew of books in my library I cannot get through because of the narrator. This is not one of them. She is perfectly fine.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Olive is the best character. Not my favorite perhaps, her husband is a far better person, , but she settles into your soul. Very complex.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    She was perfectly fine for the content.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Simple lives, complex lives.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a heart wrenching, gorgeous character-driven story thst touches on life, love, marriage, death, old age and dying and the arc of human life and experience. It will not be appreciated by all. But those who "get it" will never forget it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Corinne Herceg Highland Mills, New York 03-18-16
    Karen Corinne Herceg Highland Mills, New York 03-18-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Superb writing"

    Excellent format, style and innovation. Extremely well written and evokes a multitude of true human emotions. There is a remarkable achievement of universality in each character. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margie J. 02-25-16
    Margie J. 02-25-16 Member Since 2016
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    16
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    "Fabulous!"

    I'd like to give performance a 10!!
    Very interesting stories and I loved Olive!
    Highly recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elise 02-10-16
    Elise 02-10-16 Member Since 2015
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    4
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    "Pointless Story"

    It literally has no point. I'll never get those hours back. I'm stunned it won the Pulitzer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michele 02-06-16
    Michele 02-06-16 Member Since 2015

    I am a former teacher. I love reading and I am currently focusing on health and entrepreneurs .

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    "Amazing!!!"

    The narrator was excellent! It was told in a unique format and was thought provoking.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lc 01-25-16
    lc 01-25-16 Member Since 2015
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    15
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    "Read, don't listen."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Fantastic story. Awful narration. The characters are all made to sound like 90 yr old chain smokers. Listening just ruins this poignant, beautiful novel. '


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ginger Reading, PA, United States 01-18-16
    Ginger Reading, PA, United States 01-18-16 Member Since 2010

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Character study"

    This is a deeply thought provoking story. If you are a lover of action and violence, this is not the story for you. It is a study. Of normal people and normal lives which tries to impart a lesson in that we need to appreciate the small pleasures in life while we have them. Olive has lived a life perhaps not exactly as she would have chosen, (she visualizes how it could have been lived out differently), but realizes toward the end that none of that matters . She shows how most of us grow to accept other people's oddities or differences as we gain wisdom through living. Perhaps that is the point of the story. There is a reason we all are different and we all cannot expect the same results , expectations, or illusions to play out in our lives....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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