Friday, February 17, 2017

Olive Kitteridge: a novel, by Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout’s novel, Olive Kitteridge, holds much promise in the title, before we even open the book.  There will be a central protagonist, Olive Kitteridge, and like Anna Karenina, other characters will be introduced; yet the central axis of the novel will remain the title character.

When Strout does this, her novel soars.  We fully explore the interconnected world of Olive Kitteridge, her family, friends, and acquaintances. 

But Strout overshoots the mark in places.  She introduces too many characters, and often their connection to Olive Kitteridge is slight, or missing.  At moments like these, the novel goes into the weeds. Had Strout kept control of her material and stayed on the mark, this book would have been a masterpiece.  As it is, it is a very good, perhaps even great novel.

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