Olive Again – Elizabeth Strout

This is a sublime sequel to Ms. Strout’s exquisite Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteredge.  Olive remains a somewhat difficult, direct, honest but unfiltered and often irascible character. Her relationship with her second husband, her son from her first marriage, and the townspeople in a seaside town in Maine are, not surprisingly, complicated but entertaining. The stories show a delightful ordinariness of people. And finally, the book has a powerful treatise on ageing and (the lack of) self-awareness. A superb read.

Anything Is Possible – Elizabeth Strout

Anything Is Possible - Elizabeth StroutStrout wrote the incomparable Olive Kitteridge (Pulitzer Prize) and the very fine My Name Is Lucy Barton. This new novel is set in a small town in Illinois, the actual home of Lucy Barton. A series of inter-connected stories have links to Lucy Barton, and Lucy actually visits her brother and sister in one chapter after years away. The stories centre on a series of confessional conversations and introspective remembrances that are compelling and captivating. There is an artful simplicity in Strout’s writing; a story about a B&B encounter is exquisite. Overall, this is a great read.

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth StroutThis is a beautiful book. Elizabeth Strout writes like Elizabeth Hay, with great economy so there are no superfluous words. Part of Lucy Barton is about the relationship between a daughter and her mother; they reminisce during a 5-day hospital visit during an extended hospital stay for Lucy. But it is much more than that – about life under difficult circumstances and how that changes the meaning of love. This is a book that EVERYONE should read. Strout previously wrote the magnificent Olive Kitteridge.