“Motherless Child”
by Elizabeth Strout
from the August 5 & 12, 2019 issue of The New Yorker

Elizabeth Strout’s 2008 book of linked stories, Olive Kitteridge, won the Pulitzer Prize. I remember really enjoying it, and looking back at my review (here) I see I liked it more than I remember. How nice to see that Strout is returning to that world: “Motherless Child” is a story about Olive and her son, Christopher, who was getting married in one memorable story in Olive Kitteridge. Here he is married and has some children of his own.

They were late.

Olive Kitteridge hated people who were late. A little after lunchtime, they had said, and Olive had the lunch things out, peanut butter and jelly for the two oldest kids, and tuna-fish sandwiches for her son, Christopher, and his wife, Ann. For the little ones, she had no idea. The baby was only six weeks old and wouldn’t be eating anything solid yet; Little Henry was over two, but what did two-year-olds eat? Olive couldn’t remember what Christopher had eaten when he was that age.

I like it. I remember Olive pretty well even after just that short opening. I’m glad we have this story and will soon have an entire books that takes us back to this complex person. Olive, Again is slated to hit shelves on October 15.

I haven’t had a chance this morning to do any more reading, but this is definitely a story I’ll be reading today. I’ll return to post my thoughts below. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts on “Motherless Child” or Oliver Kitteridge or Strout’s work in general.

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