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Elizabeth Strout Books In Order

Publication Order of Olive Kitteridge Books

Olive Kitteridge (2008)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Olive, Again (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Amgash Books

My Name Is Lucy Barton (2016)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Anything Is Possible (2017)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Amy and Isabelle (1998)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Abide with Me (2006)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Burgess Boys (2013)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Best American Short Stories 2013 (2013)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Stories of Frederick Busch (2013)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Elizabeth Strout is an American novelist known for writing short stories and literary fiction. Strout was born in Portland but spent much of her childhood in New Hampshire and Maine. She always loved writing since she was a child and could be found with notebooks and diaries, where she recorded her story ideas and short fiction. She also loved reading and spent a lot of time at the local library, particularly in the fiction section. In the summer months, she would be found playing outdoors often alone and sometimes with her brother. Strout did say that she developed her affinity for the outdoors and the physical world when she was playing in the woods of New Hampshire and the rock covered coasts of Maine. Her love for writing continued right into adolescence, where she continued to write as she thought of herself as an author from a very young age. During this time, she read the biographies of many professional authors and studied the different writing styles, particularly how authors told stories. She also read and memorized a lot of poetry and by the time she turned sixteen, she was submitting her stories to magazines.

After graduating from high school, Strout went to Bates College, where she graduated in 1977 with a degree in English. She would then attend Syracuse University in 1979 from where she got a Certificate in Gerontology and a law degree. She then worked for Legal services for a few years before she moved to New York City, where she took up a job in the Borough of Manhattan Community College as an adjunct in the English Department. Strout had by this time had several of her short stories featured in literary magazines such as “Seventeen” and “Redbook.” She did all this while juggling her teaching schedule, and raising a young family. She wrote her first novel “Amy and Isabelle” in 1998 to critical acclaim as the novel went on to become a bestselling title that was made into a movie that starred Elizabeth Shue as the lead. In 2006, she published her second title “Abide with Me” that was successful though not as much as her debut. It was with the publication of “Olive Kitteridge” in 2008 that she became a household name in literary fiction. The critically acclaimed and commercially successful novel has sold over a million copies to date. It was also the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009. The New York Times bestseller was also made into a multi-award-winning miniseries. She published the second novel of the Olive Series titled “Olive, Again” in 2019 to much critical acclaim. Elizabeth Strout has also written several other single standing novels that have also been very successful.

Elizabeth Strout lives with her husband James Tierney in New York City, though she also spends a lot of time in Maine where they have their second home. She wrote most of her novels since 2001 from her Brooklyn home but has asserted that while New York has nourished her for years, Maine is what made her the author that she is today. She has said that her setting of the Olive series and the lead character all hark back to the small-town settings in Maine. Olive Kitteridge the lead character of the Olive series of novels is Strout’s most popular and best-known protagonist. She is one of difficult women of American fiction that has become one of its most beloved even surprising the author. She is bad-tempered, blunt and erratic and when she is in her element does not take nonsense from anyone and is often invulnerable. This makes her quite the characters that readers tend to sympathize with when someone hurts her feelings.

“Olive Kitteridge” is Elizabeth Strout’s first novel about the people living in Crosby, a small-town in Maine. The thirteen stories in the book are centered around Olive Kitteridge the lead character. Strout develops her characters and vividly describes her small town leaving the emotions raw. The lead has a quiet strength, good control of her emotions and exhibits a forthrightness that leaves a lot of people unsettled. However she can be quite stubborn particularly when it comes to accepting changes. Olive is a complex character and even though she is self-centered and brusque she is not the stereotypical cranky old lady. Every story is told from a different perspective to show the different sides of the lead character as she interacts with friends, family, and neighbors through love, age, grief, and loneliness. Sometimes perceptive, other time patient and at times stern, Olive Kitteridge is often deploring the changes to her small town and the outside world that she often has to interact with. Strout draws realistic characters who have such immense emotional depth that one can see them in ordinary people and even identify with them. However, she almost seems to be blind to the changes in her neighbors including her own adult child that thinks her irrational sensitivities are nothing short of tyranny, Henry her husband that thinks being loyal to his wife is a curse as well as a blessing, a lounge musician that has horrible memories of a romance that went sour. As the people in Crosby, Maine deal with their small and large problems, Olive comes to a better understanding of herself.

“Olive, Again” the second novel of the Olive series sees the wry, prickly, resistant to change yet deeply empathetic and ruthlessly honest Olive Kitteridge make a comeback. She is still struggling not only to understand her life and herself but also her neighbors in Crosby, the small town in Maine where she lived her whole life. Whether it be a lawyer struggling with an estate left to her against her wishes, a nurse confessing a crush she had in high school, a woman whose baby came at the most inopportune moment or a teenager whose father is suddenly deceased leaving him devastated, Olive is a character able to inspire and move the reader. She is one of Elizabeth Strout’s best creations not because she is always presenting herself as a cantankerous old woman but because she is one of the most honest people when it comes to her shortcomings just as she is when criticizing others. While you would expect people to be turned off by her brutal honesty, it actually makes a lot of people confide in her. The beauty of Strout’s narratives comes from the unrestrained exchanges as the characters showcase their confusion, sadness, and badness.

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