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Guaccero, S. (2010). “Standing in the Spaces” with Olive Kitteridge, By Elizabeth Strout. Psychoanal. Perspect., 7(2):411-415.

(2010). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 7(2):411-415

Book Review

“Standing in the Spaces” with Olive Kitteridge, By Elizabeth Strout

Review by:
Susan Guaccero, LCSW, NCPSYA

Elizabeth Strout has a gift for creating characters who struggle with love, loss, and resilience, and she sensitively brings them to life with honesty, compassion, and humor. Her keen observation and emotional depth of understanding lead the reader into the experiential realm of her characters, thereby granting access to the internal and external complexities of their lives. One feels each character's vulnerability, need, loneliness, pain, strength, and, throughout it all, desire for true connection both to their inner self and to others. We get to know her characters as she describes them through the lens of the history of their experiences, and she understands that life takes shape from one's relationships with others.

Her sense of time is fluid; she evokes an associative stream of consciousness that allows us to travel with her characters, by way of their heart and mind, as she gently reveals their humanness. We feel what has been significant in creating who they are in the present as well as the impact of what will change them going into the future. The felt sense that emerges from Strout's writing is reminiscent of the intimate sharing that occurs in the safety of a good analysis.

The novel is an interwoven collection of 13 short stories that revolve around the main character, Olive Kitteridge, and life in the small coastal town of Crosby, Maine.

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