Readerz.Net / Elizabeth Strout / Olive Kitteridge
Olive Kitteridge (2008) is a novel by American author Elizabeth Strout. It presents a portrait of the title character and a number of recurring characters in the coastal town of Crosby, Maine. It takes the form of 13 short stories that are interrelated but discontinuous in terms of narrative. It won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. HBO produced a four-part mini-series, based on the novel, featuring Frances McDormand in the title role, which aired on November 2 and 3, 2014. The series won eight awards at the 2015 Primetime Emmys.
Henry Kitteridge, the pharmacist of the town of Crosby, reflects back on a time when he employed the timid newlywed Denise Thibodeau. Denise's husband is also named Henry and Henry Kitteridge feels affection for Denise, whose personality he finds similar to his own, and her husband who bears his name. When Denise's husband dies in a freak hunting accident Henry takes Denise under his wing and tries to help her rebuild her life. The two have an emotional affair and Henry daydreams of taking care of Denise though he still loves his cantankerous wife Olive and can't conceive of leaving her. Jerry McCarthy, the delivery boy who is slightly younger than Denise, eventually proposes to her and Henry urges her to accept. Denise and Jerry move to Texas and do not appear to have a good marriage. Denise maintains contact with Henry through a yearly birthday letter. Receiving a letter from her decades later, Henry notes that Denise has finally signed "love".
A now adult Kevin Coulson returns to Crosby after a long absence. He reflects on how he has not been in town since he was 13 and he plans to go to his childhood home and commit suicide, visiting the dock before he does so. While sitting in his car he is approached by Olive Kitteridge, his former math teacher, who enters his car and speaks to him frankly about his mother's suicide years before and her own father's suicide following a long depression. Spending time with Olive, Kevin begins to feel some reluctance to go through with his plan. During the course of their conversation, Olive notices that a former classmate of Kevin's, Patty Howe, has fallen in the rapidly rising water. Kevin jumps into the water and manages to prevent Patty from drowning and the two hold on to one another as they wait for proper help to arrive.
Angie O'Meara is a self-taught piano prodigy in her 50s who performs at the Warehouse Bar and Grill. Angie is an alcoholic who can only perform in front of people when she is drunk. One winter evening she sees her ex-boyfriend Simon has come to see her and during the intermission calls her married lover, Malcolm, and breaks off their relationship. Simon later speaks to Angie to tell her that after they broke up her mother, a prostitute, followed Simon and propositioned him. Though she is upset Angie realizes that Simon must be lashing out due to his dissatisfaction with his own life.
Olive's only child, Christopher, finally marries at the age of 38. Olive finds the wedding overwhelming since she is very close to Chris. Lying down in his bedroom she overhears his new bride, Sue, making fun of the dress Olive is wearing, which Olive genuinely likes, and implying that Olive is difficult. Infuriated, Olive steals one of Sue's bras, a shoe, and ruins one of her sweaters with a marker, giving her a little burst of happiness of the kind Olive depends on to make her life worth living.
Harmon, who runs the local hardware store, begins a purely sexual affair with the widow Daisy Foster after his wife, Bonnie, informs him she is no longer interested in sex. Harmon witnesses local boy Tim Burnham and his girlfriend Nina White and is intrigued by their loose attitudes towards drugs and sex and the prospect of new love. Eventually Tim leaves Nina who goes to Daisy for help and reveals she suffers from anorexia. Olive Kitteridge, Harmon and Daisy all try to help Nina, but she eventually suffers a relapse and dies. Their time spent worrying over Nina causes Harmon to realize he is in love with Daisy and he rents the house that Tim and Nina once stayed in, preparing to eventually leave Bonnie to be with Daisy.
A divide appears between Henry and Olive causing Olive to reflect back on a year earlier when she stopped at a small hospital emergency room to use their bathroom. Despite feeling nothing wrong with her she was persuaded first by the nurse and then the doctor to disrobe for an exam. The delay meant that Olive and Henry were there when two young men invaded the hospital looking for drugs. Held hostage alongside the nurse and the doctor, Henry and Olive devolved into a fight with Olive disparaging Henry's mother and Henry taking the nurse's side when Olive rebuked her for praying. After being rescued tensions remain between the couple and Olive reflects that it was not the trauma that has upset the couple, but what their reactions under crisis revealed to them about one another.
At a concert Jane and Bob Houlton, a retired couple, run into the parents of their daughter's friends. Jane reflects on the fact that she knows that one of their daughters had an abortion, something the parents might not be aware of. While they are talking, the couple mention seeing Bob at an airport in Miami. Going home Jane confronts Bob about the situation and he admits that 4 years earlier his former mistress had contacted him because she had breast cancer. Jane is upset, particularly since she realizes that the betrayal comes at a time when they have so little life left with one another.
Shortly after getting married, Olive's son Chris and his new wife move to California causing heartache for Olive and her husband Henry. After a year of marriage Chris announces that he and his wife are divorcing but he will be staying in California. The two try to adjust to retired life without their son, but Henry suffers a stroke which leaves him unresponsive forcing him to move to a care home. Olive finds herself contemplating suicide now that she lives alone. After receiving a condolence note from the shut-in Louise Larkin, Olive goes to visit her. Louise and her husband have become shut-ins after their son Doyle murdered a woman by stabbing her 29 times. Louise talks about suicide with Olive and mocks her for lying to make her life appear better than it is. Shortly after while visiting Henry, Olive gives him "permission" to die but he continues to live.
Olive helps set up the wake of Ed Bonney, the husband of one of her students, since this is something Henry would have done were he well. During the wake Kerry Monroe, the cousin of the widow Marlene, gets drunk and makes a scene. Olive later finds Marlene in a bedroom with Kerry who is passed out. Marlene confesses to Olive that since Ed died, Kerry has confessed to both Marlene and her son that Kerry once had an affair with Ed. She also asks Olive to dispose of a basket filled with pamphlets for vacation packages which Marlene now feels ashamed to look at, knowing that she was deluded to think Ed would still be able to travel during his illness.
Winnie's sister Julie is left at the alter by her boyfriend Bruce. Bruce tells Julie he wants to continue dating, but not get married. Julie's mother Anita threatens to kill Bruce and disown Julie if she goes back to him. Nevertheless Julie leaves on a bus to go to Boston to reunite with Bruce. Anita finds a note Julie wrote Winnie asking her to stall their parents so they wouldn't find out and Winnie realizes that something between her and her mother is now broken.
Chris has married a second time and is now living in New York City. He asks Olive to visit and she goes, realizing that Chris's claim that he only wants to see her is a pretext to get her to help out with his wife's two young children from previous relationships. Olive dislikes Chris's new wife Ann who both smokes and drinks while pregnant, but does her best to help out. Returning home from a trip to get ice cream, Olive is offended when she realizes that she dripped sauce on herself and her son didn't inform her or help clean her up. She tells Chris she wants to leave and the two have a fight with Chris telling Olive she has a terrible temper. Olive goes home early with neither her son nor daughter-in-law taking her to the airport.
Rebecca Brown, the daughter of a minister, starts to develop kleptomania after her father's death and fantasizes about burning things.
A year or so after Henry's death, Olive meets widower Jack Kennison a former professor who retired in Crosby after she finds him having fainted on a walking path. Olive and Jack build up a friendship that slowly blossoms into romance though Olive is outraged when she finds out Jack is a Republican who voted for George W. Bush. The two eventually reunite and Olive begins a new relationship with him realizing she has found a reason to live again.
The Kitteridge Family
The Thibodeau/McCarthy Family
Lounge Patrons and Employees
The Foster Connections
The Burnham Connections
The Houlton Family
The Granger Family
The Larkin Family
The Monroe-Bonney Family
The Harwood Family
The Brown-Caskey Family