Just Did It: Olive Kitteridge for Book Club, Part II

Ladies, I couldn’t agree with you more.  And neither could the rest of book club.  When I pulled Olive Kitteridge out of the hat, I almost wanted to throw the slip of paper away and pretend it never happened.  Why would anyone have suggested this book — was it related to Kit Kittredge, did it deal with love in a pedestrian way, was it simple, slow and uninteresting and, what’s up with the outdated serif font?

But, it did snag that Pulitzer in 2008…

Olive Kitteridge is a series of 13 stories that are linked together by the title character — I dare say — one of the most fully developed, complex and all-too-real characters I’ve ever experienced.  When you meet her, you’ll hate her.  The initial Olive is nagging, judgmental and mean.  Then, she’s just insecure.  Then, someone you want on your side.  And throughout the book all these things:  paranoid, funny, scared, lonely, a good friend, a worst enemy, a disappointed mother, a widow and so, so confused.

She is the lead character in some stories a passing name in others, but she’s always there, a force in this fictional town of Crosby, Maine, where the residents deal with suicide, alcoholism, second chances, empty nests, disloyalties and hostage situations.  It would be a shame not to get to know her or her little world filled with big personalities because of a marketing mistake.

For the record, the hardcover was no better:


Listen up publishers:  Marketing matters!  This is the equivalent of NBC bungling Friday Night Lights by targeting only hardcore jocks.  There is a whole world of readers out there waiting to meet Olive, if only the cover didn’t make them want to “walk right past it” or think it’s “some novel lonely wives would want to read, and then get angry at their husbands for not being more like the male lead.”  Well said, Wendy.

Posted by: Mariela


2 responses to “Just Did It: Olive Kitteridge for Book Club, Part II

  1. I agree, the cover of this book leaves much to be desired. I doubt I ever would have picked it up during a casual browsing session, but your description of Olive has peaked my interest.

    I wonder…having read and enjoyed the book, how would you have designed the cover to better represent the stories inside? I also wonder if a different title may have done more to lure readers. I notice the hardcover (almost bashfully) advertises that the book is fiction. The publishers must have anticipated that potential buyers might mistake it for a bio.

    Thanks for the tip! I look forward to getting to know Olive:)

  2. good question, jenmae. i think i would have done something to show what a presence olive is — whether that’s an extreme close up portrait, or a set of abstract eyes. something that shows that she’s a force and always very near the surface.

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