Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth StroutRead about another entry on the list.
It takes a superb writer to build a novel around a character who is, in many ways, deeply unlikeable--and Strout is exactly such a writer. In this glorious work of fiction - as much a collection of linked short stories as a novel--the eponymous Olive is a tricky, cantankerous woman, often given to bouts of bad temper towards her long-suffering pharmacist husband, Henry. But his love for her--and, indeed, hers for him, however strangely it is expressed--is never in doubt, and forms the fulcrum point of a highly unconventional series of love stories set in a Maine coastal town.
It’s the sort of book, like the Hardy [Far From the Madding Crowd], that you can return to again and again, and always find something new to admire and enjoy--much, I suppose, like the best, most selfless and longest-lasting love, whether conventional or otherwise.
Olive Kitteridge is among Sophie Ward's six best books.