Olive, Again by Elizabeth Stout
Elizabeth Stout is a Pulitzer Prize winner, not surprising that her novel featured on Oprah’s highly acclaimed Bookclub.
I found this book challenging to read and finish. Definitely not my 'go-to' genre but having not read Olive Ketteridge, it was hard to follow.
Agreed, it is a masterful piece on ageing and the nuances of human relationships. Olive is feisty, old and socially awkward so her character either grows on you or doesn’t. The story spans 10 years, covering her second marriage, in her 70s and then into her 80s when she is a widow again. Each chapter reads like a short story and if you pay close attention, you will come across Olive in the margins of each individual story/chapter.
Her story is sad, more so that she has many regrets which she realises too late.
One of which is that she should've been more understanding of people than she was. And
that she didn’t have a close relationship with her only child, which she finally accepts for what it is later on.
It’s probably more insightful than anything for me, building empathy and understanding around growing old. Reminding us that life is full of challenges, some change us and some don’t - the best we can do is to live well with dignity. We begin to recognise a little of her character in ourselves, perhaps? Slow to speak. Opinionated. Often judgemental but always reflecting on herself and others. Makes me wonder what old age holds for us, how will we fare? Not a thought, I'm prepared to entertain. If anything, God willing, we have time to alter the course of our lives so there are no regrets.
In her own words, at the age of 83:
I don't have a clue who I have been. Truthfully, I do not understand a thing.
Food for thought.
Book Review Written by Leonora Sinclair
Also visit www.auvou.co.uk for Miriama' Suraki's own take on the book and share the love there!