Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout [in Booklist]
Kimberly Farr returns for a fourth propitious audiobook pairing with Elizabeth Strout, her second as the title character in this conclusion-of-sorts to the 2008 Pulitzer Prized novel Olive Kitteridge. Both books follow a similar format – both are comprised of 13 interlinked stories mostly featuring the deeply genuine, albeit often awkward, sometimes acerbic, now septuagenarian Crosby, Maine resident.
For aural Olive-groupies, Farr is Olive, plainspoken and unfiltered, inducing a welcome sigh of relief to hear again. Olive’s husband Henry is now dead and her son Christopher rarely in contact, although he’s just in New York, where he’s married with kids. Although Olive thought she’d adjusted enough to being alone, she finds surprising second love with ex-Harvard professor Jack Kennison, a wealthy widower attempting to rebuild his relationship with his estranged, gay daughter.
When Farr isn’t navigating Olive and Jack’s lives both together and separately, she’s haunting as the adult daughter facing ugly, horrifying truths about her parents in “Helped,” and at turns biting and bereft as a still-young woman fighting cancer in “Light.” For Strout aficionados, Farr recreates the titular Burgess Boys – the two brothers, their wives, and a visit that goes horribly awry, and reveals the fates of Amy and Isabelle decades after that book’s end. For lucky listeners, Farr’s performance proves an intimate homecoming to Strout’s literary Maine.