More Olive is a cause for celebration, and let the fireworks begin. Strout has answered our pleas with the continuation of the tale of our beloved Olive, who’s a singular reminder of the great complexity of the human condition. Still in the small town of Crosby, Maine, Olive continues her quest to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her.
Amy and Isabelle
Of course you should read all of Strout’s works, but why not start with the book that deservedly put her on the map? Strout’s talent for creating wholly unique characters that still manage to speak to all of us is on full display in her debut novel, which features a mother-daughter tale fraught with love, loathing, and sexual secrets.
The Accidental Tourist
Tyler has blessed her fans with her prolific output of more than two dozen novels, each one a treat. In The Accidental Tourist, one of her best-known books, Muriel Pritchett—an outlandish savior of sorts—will burn in your memory right alongside Olive.
In this short story collection from master of the form Alice Munro, women of all ages and circumstances—and their friends, lovers, parents, and children—are vividly drawn. Making multiple appearances is one young woman, Juliet (the inspiration for Pedro Almodóvar’s film Julieta), and her complicated intimate relationships.
Little Fires Everywhere
In this magnificent novel, Ng, like Strout, forces us to look at the complete picture of family, friendship, and human interaction in all its beauty and warts. In Shaker Heights—a placid, affluent suburb of Cleveland—the picture-perfect, play-by-the-rules Richardson family becomes dangerously involved with the artistic and enigmatic Mia Warren and her daughter, Pearl.
Bastard Out of Carolina
This controversial, harrowing story centers on Ruth Anne Boatwright, simply known as Bone, a bastard child in the rural South who finds herself in a family triangle that pits her mother’s loyalty against her increasingly vicious stepfather. With gorgeous language, Allison offers a profound portrait of family dynamics gone wrong.
Sister of My Heart
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
In this luminous novel set in India and San Francisco, we’re treated to the story of two extraordinary women: Anju, the daughter of an upper-caste Calcutta family of distinction, and her cousin Sudha, the daughter of the same family’s black sheep. Urged into arranged marriages, their lives go against expectation and draw them apart—until tragedy bridges the divide.
The Heart's Invisible Furies
The author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas gives us a heartfelt saga set in post-war Ireland that ostensibly revolves around Cyril Avery—born out of wedlock to a teenage girl banished from her rural town—who’s raised by distant and wealthy adoptive parents. But giving the story its heartbeat is the indomitable Catherine Goggin, cast out years earlier, and the intersection of her and Cyril’s lives.
It’s one thing to fall in love with a book or an author. It’s another thing entirely to fall in love—or hate, or frustration—with a character. For those of us who read the 13 mesmerizing narratives in Elizabeth’s Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge, that’s exactly what happened. Olive stayed with us, and we want more of her. In fact, don’t we all want more books where we meet characters (particularly wonderfully odd, strong women) that we simply can’t get out of our heads? The answer is yes, we do! Here are eight books that offer at least one character that will be a friend or foe for life.
Featured Image: Courtesy of HBO