Olive, Again: A Novel
Olive Kitteridge makes no apology for who she is, and her blunt, unbending worldview will be immediately familiar to anyone who loved Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. This time, however, Olive is older, and she isn’t quite so quick to make moral judgments and swift dismissals. Olive has never been as hard as others sometimes believe her to be, but in this collection, she reveals a new vulnerability, recognizable from the original stories but heightened now, more searing. Her nurturing side is more pronounced as she navigates the indignities, fears, and disappointments of old age. There are complicated new layers of love, resentment, and forgiveness with her son, Christopher, and his prickly second wife, Ann. New, too, are second chances, including Olive’s second chance at love now that her husband, Henry, is gone.
The people who share Olive’s hometown of Crosby, Maine, are as lonely and conflicted as ever, and some of the most wrenching stories in this collection aren’t directly Olive’s at all. Kayley Callaghan, an eighth-grade house cleaner, finds a queasy connection with an elderly man in “Cleaning.” A grown woman discovers devastating new truths about her parents in “Helped.” And in “Light,” a woman dying from cancer finds more comfort in Olive than in her own doting husband. In all of these stories, Olive is a crucial force either in person or in spirit, and readers will want to seize every second of her waning life. Olive, Again is an essential partner to Olive Kitteridge, and the emotional impact of these new stories won’t easily fade.
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