BOOK OF THE MONTH
Olive, Again (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel is Bookclubz' Book of the Month.
Use these discussion questions to guide your next meeting.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Olive, Again is a novel-in-stories by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge. While Olive, Again is technically a sequel to Olive Kitteridge, it can be read as a standalone. The heartbeat of the novel is protagonist Olive Kitteridge, a woman from Crosby, Maine who has lost her husband, Henry, and in this new book reconnects with Jack, a man who loves Olive though he observes that kissing her is like kissing a barnacled whale. In other words, Olive doesn’t have the disease to please. She can be rude, abrupt, direct, insecure, cantankerous—and funny. A retired teacher who has entered the latter years of her life, she struggles against loneliness, against the vagaries of aging, to understand whether she’s been a good mother to her son, Christopher, to decide whether she can embrace life with a new man. All the stories in the novel—whether about a teenaged girl trying to figure out how to relate to her mother and to reckon with her dawning sexuality; about two brothers and the secrets they keep; about Olive’s inability to feel the love she thinks she should for her grandchildren; about what it is to surrender to mortality or to a new friend’s kind shoulder—remind us that we are all human, we all get sad and lonely, and that kindness and humor are the balm that saves us. And also that a town like Crosby is like a canvas, a tiny universe in which anything can and does happen, and every human emotion is contained.
THE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Have you read Olive Kitteridge? If so, what kind of older woman would you expect Olive to be?
If you haven’t read Olive Kitteridge and this is your first experience of Olive, what’s your first impression? Do you see her as being compassionate, or just plain old harsh?
Jack is in love with Olive but the way he describes love doesn’t exactly reflect the kind of romantic love we’re used to finding in fiction or movies. Do you think the love between Jack and Olive is “true love”?