The protagonist in this novel shows up in each of the connected stories, even though the book is not a novel by traditional standards. In addition, to the aforementioned connected stories, the protagonist is not a likable character, which can be tricky since readers may not want to keep going on. After all, who purposely vandalizes the home of her newly-married son at a wedding reception in his home just to unsettle his wife, which is how the book begins.
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Olive is curmudgeonly and shows little patience for those who she finds to be annoying in one way or another, including her son who tells her that she's not nice, however, over time, we see that she is also kind and cares about those in her community, even if she has an odd way of showing it.
Olive is married to Henry, a pharmacist, who has a personality opposite his wife's. They live in a small town in Maine. She is not sure he should have hired the “mousy” assistant after his last assistant died unexpectedly. And, when Henry considers walking up to Olive and hugging her, he has second thoughts due to her put-off nature.
Olive shows up in each story, sometimes like a hurricane, other times like a gentle rain, but she is there and the reader is very aware of it. There is the young anorexic that Olive feels heartbreak over and then there is her own son whom she can't seem to make a connection with. There is also an alcoholic who plays the piano and the son's new wife who must win over her mother-in-law, who clearly has no desire to be won over. The last chapter, though, reveals a woman who shows some vulnerability when her husband becomes ill. The reader will feel some compassion for her, as well as never forget this well-developed character.
Best part of story, including ending:
The protagonist was a fascinating character that made me want to keep discovering more about her.
Best scene in story:
The scene where Olive, her husband, and some of the hospital staff were held hostage. It was very amusing.
Opinion about the main character:
Her nonchalance about not caring who liked her. She was her own person and wasn't going to kowtow to anyone.