Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
This book by Elizabeth Strout is a series of short stories primarily set in Maine with a common character, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher. 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.
This book by Elizabeth Strout is a series of short stories primarily set in Maine with a common character, Olive Kitteridge.
From the Publisher (Random House)
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 of Crosby, Maine, 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.
Book Club Party Ideas for Olive Kitteridge
The setting of the book was in Maine so we decorated with seashells, starfish and a beachy table runner. I found this cute nautical chalkboard at a garage sale and unfortunately I could not hunt it down on the internet. There are nautical chalkboards available on Amazon. Another great site for nautical and coastal decorations is tikimaster.com
What to Wear
For a folksy tune, I recommend Our Maine Songs by Schooner Fare. Sketches of Maine by Paul Sullivan is a piano solo with occasional seagulls chirping in the background. A relaxing choice for a book club party.
Book Club Menu for Olive Kitteridge
For the food we wanted to have lobster tails, but could not find a sufficient amount in our noncoastal location. It wasn’t until later I found out you could order them off the internet. If you do decide to get lobster, there are pots designed to cook them and tools to open them. A bib is a must when eating lobster. There are also special lobster plates.
So we had two lobster tails, fresh crab meat and clams to plan our menu. We also had lemon thyme, parmesan cheese and shallots, so you will see these ingredients in several of the recipes.
The menu consisted of:
- Crab stuffed mushrooms- Olive recalled she had crab stuffed mushrooms when she went into the hospital with an upset stomach. Then Pig-Face entered.
- Lobster tarts- This was a pricey recipe, but it was the one that got the most compliments.
- Brown bread with baked beans- We were initially going to serve this as a side dish. When we couldn’t find lobster tails we decided to do appetizers, but the beans were already made. I came up with this recipe so people could eat them without using a utensil.
- Clams with sauteed garlic and white wine- I am not a clam fan, but these were very tasty.
- Crab dip- Melted cheese…need I say more?
- Homemade (kind of) donuts- These donuts were a favorite in my family growing up. The donuts taste best shortly after cooking, so if time is a factor, store bought donuts will do. Olive had a penchant for Dunkin Donuts and she like to get at least 3 donut holes.
Book Club Resources for Olive Kitteridge
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 3.7 stars (24026 ratings)|
|Amazon: 4 stars (508 reviews)|
|Barnes & Noble: 3.5 stars (576 reviews)|
|My Rating: 4 stars|
“Funny, wicked and remorseful, Mrs. Kitteridge is a compelling life force, a red-blooded original. When she’s not onstage, we look forward to her return. The book is a page-turner because of her.”
–San Francisco Chronicle
“Over the course of the novel we discover that while Olive is indeed tactless and opinionated, we also discover that she is compassionate, caring and sentimental…Overall I would say that I enjoyed this book – and will probably come to realize that it is truly a great, enjoyable book as time goes on.” – My Cozy Book Nook Blog
- Did you like how the book was written as a series of short stories? Would you have enjoyed it more if it were written as one continuous story?
- What is your opinion of Olive Kitteridge? Did you feel any admiration for her?
- How would you describe Olive’s relationship with her son? With her husband?
- Which short story was your favorite? Why?
- Were any of Olive’s actions or words unpredictable or out of character for her?
- Did Olive grow as a person as the story progressed? How?
- If this is the first novel you have read by Elizabeth Strout, are you now interested in reading her other novels?
Purchase Olive Kitteridge at your favorite bookseller
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