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Olive, Again (Oprah's Book Club)

A Novel
Written by: Elizabeth Strout
Narrated by: Kimberly Farr
Series: Olive Kitteridge, Book 2
Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (62 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller
Oprah’s Book Club Pick

Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout continues the life of her beloved Olive Kitteridge, a character who has captured the imaginations of millions.

“Strout managed to make me love this strange woman I’d never met, who I knew nothing about. What a terrific writer she is.” (Zadie Smith, The Guardian)

“Just as wonderful as the original...Olive, Again poignantly reminds us that empathy, a requirement for love, helps make life ‘not unhappy.’” (NPR)

Named one of The Ten Best Books of the Year People and one of The Best Books of the Year by: TimeVogue • The Washington Post • Chicago Tribune Vanity Fair • Entertainment Weekly BuzzFeed • Esquire Real Simple Good Housekeeping The New York Public LibraryThe Guardian Evening Standard Kirkus ReviewsPublishers WeeklyBookPage

Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force”, and she has never done so more clearly than in this book, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire us - in Strout’s words - “to bear the burden of the mystery with as much grace as we can.”

Praise for Olive, Again:

“Olive is a brilliant creation not only because of her eternal cantankerousness but because she’s as brutally candid with herself about her shortcomings as she is with others. Her honesty makes people strangely willing to confide in her, and the raw power of Ms. Strout’s writing comes from these unvarnished exchanges, in which characters reveal themselves in all of their sadness and badness and confusion.... The great, terrible mess of living is spilled out across the pages of this moving book. Ms. Strout may not have any answers for it, but she isn’t afraid of it either.” (The Wall Street Journal

©2019 Elizabeth Strout (P)2019 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"Kimberly Farr, who performed Elizabeth Strout's previous Olive Kitteridge novel to fine effect, does it again.... Farr has the plain accents and often abrupt speech down pat. She hints at personality without overplaying, and reads the stories with sympathy. They are full of tragedy and joy and life's flotsam and jetsam. Prepare to savor every word." (AudioFile Magazine)

"Return to the wonderful world of Strout’s unforgettable Pulizer Prize-winning novel, Olive Kitteridge, with Olive, Again. Strout weaves together the stories of the different characters populating Crosby, Maine, in her inimitable voice, all tied together by Olive.... Lose yourself in the world of Olive, Again. You’ll be so glad you did." (PopSugar) 

"Strout dwells with uncanny immediacy inside the minds and hearts of a dazzling range of ages: the young (with their confusion, wonder, awakening sexuality), the middle-aged (envy, striving, compromise), the old (failing bodies, societal shunning, late revelations).... I have long and deeply admired all of Strout’s work, but Olive, Again transcends and triumphs. The naked pain, dignity, wit and courage these stories consistently embody fill us with a steady, wrought comfort." (Washington Post

"The lovable, irascible Olive Kitteridge is back in this sequel to the charming (but also casually devastating) 2008 novel that won a Pulitzer Prize and spawned an HBO miniseries. Strout sticks to her winning formula: interrelated short stories linked by the presence of familiar faces.... In this novel - set against the backdrop of a rapidly changing Maine, ravaged by opioid addiction and economic neglect - Strout wields great pathos out of life and all its attendant tragedies." (BuzzFeed) 

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
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Delightful...

I enjoyed this book immensely and think it’s even better than the first Olive Kitteridge. I would love it if HBO pick it up as they did with the first one.

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Entertaining and thought provoking

I really liked the flow of the story and all the individuals that were all part of Olive’s world either directly or indirectly. I had to remind myself several times of the original story of certain characters as they appeared later again in the story. Love the ending ❤️

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Beautiful & haunting

One of my faves in the last couple of years. Even better than the first. An unforgettable character. Very flawed but I can’t help liking her. The short stories all pack a punch of emotions by themselves. It deserves all the accolades it’s been getting.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Shiri Macri
  • 2019-12-04

Pretty bad narraration

I listen to audiobooks all the time with different narrators – women, men, different accents. This narrator was not good at all in my opinion. Her voice is OK, but the intonation she puts on words and sentences doesn’t match what the sentence is saying, which made it hard for me to follow along and in turn I lost interest quickly. For example, in a sentence talking about someone committing suicide, her tone and expression was that of excitement. This happened throughout the entire book. I kept losing interest but kept trying to stay with it. Eventually I stopped halfway through and gave up.

14 people found this helpful

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  • MissAmy72
  • 2019-12-05

Interesting...ish

I liked the first Olive book. This one was all over the place more than the last! Didn't have any cohesiveness. It only became really interesting in the last 2 hours.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Billy
  • 2019-10-21

Unexpectedly Humorous

First and foremost: Superbly written and EXCELLENTLY narrated.

I didn't realize it until I started listening to this book, but I really missed Olive Kitteridge. When I saw Strout wrote another book ("Olive, Again" - what a perfect title), I was honestly a bit hesitant. Sequels are not really my preferred reading because they rarely meet the quality of what came before. I should have known Strout was different. This book is as good than Strout's Pulitzer winner, arguably better in some ways. The stories are well developed, taut studies in character. Like before, Olive is not always the central focus of each story. In a couple, she is merely a passing mention. Yet she always controls and frames the reader's understanding of events. Strout also (to my elation) brings back her careful incorporation of natural description with characterization--a facet missing from the more "porous" Lucy Barton and Anything is Possible.

Some reviews have been critical of Strout's 'political' take in the novel. I can see where those views come from, but I think they may be taking Strout's writing personally. The political views are used as characterization. The story "Heart" is the best example of this. The politics are up-front and, often, personal for the characters. "Motherless Child" is another good example, folding in 'political' details (such as use of reusable bags, the eco-friendly Subaru) in simple, passing statements. I found Strout to handle these situations with graceful prose and empathy for everyone.

If there is a downside--and I do not see this as a downside--it is how Strout confronts head-on the sexual world of her characters. As only one example, she brings to the forefront a version (albeit limited) of dominatrix culture. These moments allow Strout to establish the different views of a singular experience, and she does well to present both the views of the older generation and the younger. Interestingly, the very sexual aspects are an insight into how we can bridge an generational divide. The "downside" is that some may find the descriptions to be unnecessary or gratuitous.

On the whole, this was the perfect sequel for Olive. I recommend it without reservation.

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Gloria Flores
  • 2020-01-08

warning

It's a very well written novel, just do not read it if you are suffering from depression. I had to stop reading it several times, but I did my best and finished now I need a very uplifting book to overcome this sadness.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Lois Thompson
  • 2019-12-31

Olive’s Story Is Still Strong

My last listen was the original Olive Kitterage. I would have listened to this next one anyway but was so glad that the narrator was the same person. Excellent job.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Karin
  • 2019-12-26

Not like the first Olive

Book fell short of being as interesting as the first Olive book. Mostly a depressing story.

2 people found this helpful

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  • MP
  • 2019-11-20

I agree with Wavyart's review.

Plus, I've decided that Elizabeth Strout, while perceptive, has a dark, uncomfortable bent that I don't mush care for. I didn't finish the book.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-01-16

Mostly weird and depressing

This book was really a bunch of short stories about very very troubled people and it kept coming back to Olive and her odd story. Unfortunately it never tied together and it kept the same depressing tone throughout. The narrator was good.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kate Smith
  • 2020-01-13

Not an Olive fan I guess?

Maybe I'm in the minority, but I had a hard time listening to this. It was depressing and I lost interest in the characters with all the storyline changes. Or I'd really like a character and then feel disappointed when that brief story ended abruptly. Olive isn't a compelling character so I just wasn't interesting in knowing what happens next. This is a book club book so I wonder what others will say...maybe they'll change my mind.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Charnley
  • 2020-01-07

She leaves me with a heart that feels tender

Elizabeth Strout has an amazing way of painting a character so that you feel completely bound up with her - as if you have always known her.

1 person found this helpful