Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout

Book Review by Navina Anand

Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout is a sequel to her 2009 Pulitzer Prize winning novel Olive Kitteridge. While you don’t HAVE to read Olive Kitteridge before you read Olive again, it definitely sets the stage and helps you understand the character in greater depth.

‘Olive Again’ , much like its prequel, is a delightful weave of the lives of many characters who live in the small coastal town of Crosby, in Maine, USA. However, Olive Again , I felt was even more nuanced. So many beautiful shades of relationships, human emotion and behaviour which leaves us questioning our own tendencies to judge other people based on their life choices. The titular character is not particularly loveable. She is a woman with strong opinions, likes and dislikes and she is not afraid to voice them.

She is not your stereotypical heroine whom you have to love or admire for any particular reason. However, the vibe of the book that I simply loved was the raw honesty in the way the characters were portrayed. There was no big drama. No great suspense, but it is almost meditative as we sit on the sidelines and observe these characters and we muse over why they did what they did.  It makes us pause and think about our own actions and reactions, some of which we don’t even want to admit to ourselves, let alone others.

I think everyone should read both these beautiful books and the sequel being even better than the prequel makes it a perfectly satisfying duo. I heard these books on audible and the narrator Kimberly Farr is simply brilliant bringing the characters to life with her wonderful voice inflections . She is a one-woman acting crew who has done a stellar job with both the male and female voices and I practically had the movie running in my head- which is why I am super excited to find out that HBO had created a mini-series on Olive Kitteridge and that is going to be on my bucket list of things to watch !  Olive – 5 stars

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