‘Olive Again’ hits shelves

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December 6, 2019 - 10:11 PM

Many readers will be glad to see “Olive Again” by Elizabeth Strout, a sequel to her Pulitzer Prize-winning “Olive Kitteridge” which also became an HBO series.  The earlier novel explored the relationships of people in a small Maine town in 13 separate but linked vignettes and their interactions with the title character, a cantankerous retired math teacher. The new book features another 13 linked stories following Olive and various townspeople from where the earlier book left off until the now quite elderly Olive is in assisted care.  The book is by turns humorous, discomforting, touching, and sad — in other words, it reflects life as it actually is.

Another small town, this one closer to home, is the setting for “The Confession Club” by Elizabeth Berg. In Mason, Missouri, a small group of women form a supper club. The direction suddenly veers into new territory when one of the women reveals something from her past. The group becomes a “confession club,” gathering weekly to share their backstories with all the attending secrets, disappointments, and embarrassments. The group includes long-time residents and newcomers, young and elderly, but all of them bond into sort of a family.  

As “The Nugget” by P.T. Deutermann opens in the final year of World War II, Navy Lt. Bobby Steele is facing a court on inquiry wondering where he has been since he went missing from his ship almost two years earlier.  Steele’s story is then told in flashback. Surviving the sinking of the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor, Steele determines to take the war to the Japanese, fighting at Midway and Guadalcanal. His greatest adventure, however, comes after he has to ditch his plane, ending up on a small Philippine island crawling with Japanese. There he fights alongside the Philippine resistance to the Japanese occupation. “The Nugget” is a rousing war story which provides insight into little known aspects of the war in the Philippines.

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