This novel has won the Pulitzer Prize, and it was a choice for one of my book groups. Otherwise I do not think that I would have picked it up. The Olive in question is a retired school teacher in a small town. So, the story could only be slow and a bit on the dull side.
The story is told from the perspectives of several other people. Some chapters are about people who know Olive well, in some chapters she just has a small appearance. It spans from her middle age through to her old age. She is not a particularly nice character and she is difficult to empathise with. Even from her family’s perspective she does not come out looking great.
There is no great story here; no beginning, middle or end. It is more of a character study of a grumpy old lady. Although she is more complex than just a grumpy person, I still would not say that I enjoyed this book a great deal. Olive has a lot of anger inside her, and I cannot understand why, even by the end of the book. She still lives a full life and has people who care for her and want to be with her despite this.
Olive is a school teacher so she has influenced many of the people in the town. The book is about relationships, close and distant. We have all affected so many people in our lives, whether we know it or not, and we should take care with how we interact with people. At least, I think that was what the book was about.