I have just finished Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge and all I can say is wow. WOW. This is a novel in stories, which is all the rage right now, and it was so captivating, so spellbinding that I'm nearly beside myself. Olive is a character with so many flaws that she feels... well, human. The normal imperfections that we all have, the gripes that we feel but perhaps don't voice. She's handled with such honesty, such tenderness and heartfelt emotion that I came to believe that I knew her, really knew her, that she was a part of my family.
I so thoroughly enjoyed each story, beginning with the opening one, that I was genuinely surprised with each subsequent story as it became my new favorite.
This is the first time I've read anything by Elizabeth Strout and I felt like I was in the hands of an expert, a master. She took her time with each story, with each character - and for this I was thrilled because everyone always says to get to the story, cut all the excess, which I always take to mean no lollygagging. But that's how I felt in each of these stories: lollygagging. In a good way, a way that let me see the surroundings, see the nuances of the characters, feel their emotions, each lollygagging moment building upon the previous moment, each lazy-like detail filling in the edges so that, at the end, a full-bodied masterpiece is realized and I feel as though I know and understand these characters, especially Olive Kitteridge, to such a degree that I'm amazed by it all and definitely, definitely better off, fuller, for having spent time in her world.
This kind of experience is such a treat.
I highly recommend it.