Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout


Audiobook.  Olive is a crusty New Englander who seems to find it necessary to say to her husband, "For Gawd's sake, Henry," on a regular basis.  Perhaps crusty is putting it too gently.  She is a real grump who prides herself on not being weak, but who shows up in most of these short stories with a kind, if gruff, word for people, sometimes just in the nick of time.

The characters of the stories are appealing, if desperate.  There's the woman who plays the piano at the bar, daughter of a prostitute who wouldn't let her talented daughter go off to school, she manages to play each night with the help of a stiff drink or two.  And there's the very  young anorexic who is helped for a time by Olive and another woman.  And the very sweet, unambitious young woman who works for Henry (Mr. Kitteridge), in his pharmacy whose life takes a terrible turn when her husband is accidentally shot by his best friend. 

Olive's dreadful interactions with her son are perhaps the most grim part of the book, Olive at her most unappealing.  Yet the unblinking look at her as she crashes her way along is somehow heartening.  I highly recommend this Pulitzer Prize winning author.

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