My last review was A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. Everyone loved that book except me, totally implausible though it was. So here we have a similar main character. She is a female curmudgeon. She’s ornery, mean, complicated, and very hard to like at the beginning of the book. At the finish we have come to understand her. Ove softens. Olive remains the same, yet we see her differently.
It is Olive who ties together the stories of the town of Crosby, Maine. As other readers mentioned, this book reminds me a little of Spoon River Anthology, a literary masterpiece where the voices from the cemetery tell the story of the town and the inter-relationships of its characters.
The writing is simple. Yet complex. The book has realistic characters, not stereotypes. It has emotional power – heart and depth – and when you have finished it stays with you. It “requires introspection.” That is why it won the Pulitzer Prize.
An interesting and noteworthy observation: those who liked or hated this novel on Goodreads were predictably divided by age. If you are young, I am going to guess that you lack the life experience to “get” it. Do not bother to read it. Olive has a particular resonance with mature, older women.