I have to confess, I have not read the Pulitzer Prize winning stories of Olive Kitteridge, but I saw them recently, cooped up in the cultural abyss of Sky TV in Italy…
This fantastic series came on in place of the usual crappy criminal intrigues and lousily illogical sitcoms and I sat up, transfixed from the start. A series of stories set in Maine about an incredibly blunt, (I would say on the Asbergers spectrum), intelligent woman named Olive. I loved her right away for her flesh-coloured stockings and refusal to change her hair. My husband turned to me as we watched, grinning.
‘Now that is something you would say,’ he kept saying.
Yes, it was true. I found myself nodding, laughing, agreeing with her. I recognized the fraught family scenes, the misunderstandings and the inability she had to keep her mouth SHUT. I loved her for her faults, the nearly (but not quite) affair. The cut to the chase comments to her husband when he grew obsessed with his young, vulnerable shop girl widow. The impatience she had for false, pretentious types with Californian suntans and cabriolets. I loved the kindness and empathy she showed towards her friend with mental illness, and later, the son. I liked that she gardened, preferring live flowers to the dead in a vase.
The best of course, mentioned in this interview – the feverish hiding of one shoe, a bra and an earring in revenge, possessions of her new daughter-in-law. A scene made in comedy heaven.
This is a writer with books I will buy, secure in her hands, knowing I will love them. I adore her admission that she writes for herself, that she made it after 15 years of hard graft and endless rejection, and that she never gave up. You inspire, brave Elizabeth. I am a huge fan.
Interview of Elizabeth Strout: Here