Elizabeth Strout quotes

  • It's tremendously hard work. Yes, I love arranging the words and having them fall on the ear the right way and you know you're not quite there and you're redoing it and redoing it and there's a wonderful thrill to it. But it is hard.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Fall #Hard Work #Writing

  • I suspect the most we can hope for, and it's no small hope, is that we never give up, that we never stop giving ourselves permission to try to love and receive love.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Giving Up #Trying #Permission

  • You couldn't make yourself stop feeling a certain way, no matter what the other person did. You had to just wait. Eventually the feeling went away because others came along. Or sometimes it didn't go away but got squeezed into something tiny, and hung like a piece of tinsel in the back of your mind.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Life #Waiting #Feelings

  • I love theater. I love sitting in an audience and having the actors right there, playing out what it means to be a human being.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Mean #Sitting #Actors

  • I don't think there was a particular book that made me want to write. They all did. I always wanted to write.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Book #Writing #Thinking

  • I do write by hand. I just think - I don't know, it's a physical thing for me. It's a bodily thing. It literally has to earn its way through my hand.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Writing #Thinking #Hands

  • He put the blinker on, pulled out onto the avenue. "Well, that was nice," she said, sitting back. They had fun together these days, they really did. It was as if marriage had been a long, complicatd meal, and now there was this lovely dessert.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Love #Fun #Nice

  • I do reread, kind of obsessively, partly for the surprise of how the same book reads at a different point in life, and partly to have the sense of returning to an old friend.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Book #Old Friends #Different

  • Bullies are just frightened people.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #People #Bully #Frightened

  • By the time they were pulling into the parking lot of the A&P, the mood was fading, the moment gone. Amy could feel it go. Perhaps it was nothing more than the two doughnuts expanding in her stomach full of milk, but Amy felt a heaviness begin, a familiar turning of some inward tide. As they drove over the bridge the sun seemed to move from a cheerful daytime yellow to an early-evening gold; painful how the gold light hit the riverbanks, rich and sorrowful, drawing from Amy some longing, a craving for joy.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Moving #Yellow #Drawing

  • In case you haven't noticed, people get hard-hearted against the people they hurt. Because they can't stand it. Literally. To think we did that to someone. I did that. So we think of all the reasons why it's okay we did whatever we did.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Hurt #Thinking #People

  • The facts didn't matter. Their stories mattered, and each of their stories belonged to each of them alone.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Stories #Matter #Facts

  • The appetites of the body were private battles.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Battle #Body #Appetite

  • If you get divorced in New York, you go into therapy and will talk to anybody you meet on the sidewalk about it.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #New York #Sidewalk #Therapy

  • My first job was when I was about 12, cleaning houses in the afternoons for different elderly women in town. I hated it.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Jobs #Elderly #House

  • For years I did most of my reading on the F train between Brooklyn and Manhattan. I had long commutes, and I read tons of books on that train; I loved it.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Book #Reading #Years

  • No exchange rate for the confidence of youth.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Youth #Rate

  • Without a doubt my mother was an inspiration for my writing. This is true in many ways, but mostly because she is a wonderful storyteller, without even knowing it.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Mother #Inspiration #Writing

  • The fact of the matter is I always have a really high sense of responsibility to the reader, whether it's a few readers that I get or a lot of readers, which I was lucky enough to get with 'Olive.' I feel responsible to them, to deliver something as truthful and straight as I can.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Responsibility #Lucky #Matter

  • Oh, I wish I organized my books. But I don't. I'm not an organized person. The best I can do is put the books I really like in one sort of general area, and poetry in another.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Book #Wish #Organized

  • In a way, I'm very interested in writing about Maine, because I think Maine represents its own kind of history. It's the oldest state, and it's the whitest state.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Writing #Thinking #Maine

  • I've always been tremendously interested in criminal law. It goes to a deep interest I have in prisons and the criminal element, and what we do as a society with it. I've always been touched by the idea of criminality.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Law #Ideas #Criminals

  • I'm writing for my ideal reader, for somebody who's willing to take the time, who's willing to get lost in a new world, who's willing to do their part. But then I have to do my part and give them a sound and a voice that they believe in enough to keep going.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Believe #Writing #Voice

  • I don't want to live in Maine full time, but the physical beauty is very striking. It is the exact opposite of New York. When you walk through my small town to get a cup of coffee, you bump into five people you know.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #New York #Coffee #Opposites

  • I don't especially like to travel, not the way many people do. I know many people that love to go to far-off and different places, and I've never been like that. I seem to get homesick as quickly as a child.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Children #People #Different

  • Traits don't change, states of mind do.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Mind #States

  • People like to think the younger generation's job is to steer the world to hell. But it's never true, is it? They're hopeful and good - and that's how it should be.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Jobs #Thinking #People

  • Had they known at these moments to be quietly joyful? Most likely not. People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Live Life #People #Moments

  • But after a certain point in a marriage, you stopped having a certain kind of fight, Olive thought, because when the years behind you were more than the years in front of you, things were different.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Fighting #Years #Different

  • Or maybe, he thought, returning to the boxes, it was part of being Catholic--you were made to feel guilty about everything
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Catholic #Guilty #Made

  • Oh that's lovely," said Bunny. "Olive, you've got a date." "Why would you say something so foolish?" Olive asked, really annoyed. "We're two lonely people having supper." "Exactly," said Bunny. "That's a date.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Lonely #Two #People

  • Olive's private view is that life depends on what she thinks of as "big bursts" and "little bursts." Big bursts are things like marriage or children, intimacies that keep you afloat, but these big bursts hold dangerous, unseen currents. Which is why you need the little bursts as well: a friendly clerk at Bradlee's, let's say, or the waitress at Dunkin' Donuts who knows how you like your coffee. Tricky business, really.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Children #Coffee #Thinking

  • And yet, standing behind her son, waiting for the traffic light change, she remembered how in the midst of it all there had been a time when she'd felt a loneliness so deep that once, not so many years ago, having a cavity filled, the dentist's gentle turning of her chin with his soft fingers had felt to her like a tender kindness of almost excruciating depth, and she had swallowed with a groan of longing, tears springing to her eyes.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Kindness #Loneliness #Eye

  • Back and forth she went each morning by the river, spring arriving once again; foolish, foolish spring, breaking open its tiny buds, and what she couldn’t stand was how—for many years, really—she had been made happy by such a thing. She had not thought she would ever become immune to the beauty of the physical world, but there you were. The river sparkled with the sun that rose, enough that she needed her sunglasses.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Morning #Spring #Years

  • It’s just that I’m the kind of person,' Rebecca continued, 'that thinks if you took a map of the whole world and put a pin in it for every person, there wouldn’t be a pin for me.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Thinking #World #Maps

  • He would not let her go. Even though, staring into her open eyes in the swirling salt-filled water, with sun flashing though each wave, he thought he would like this moment to be forever: the dark-haired woman on shore calling for their safety, the girl who had once jumped rope like a queen, now holding him with a fierceness that matched the power of the ocean—oh, insane, ludicrous, unknowable world! Look how she wanted to live, look how she wanted to hold on.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Girl #Queens #Ocean

  • But what could you do? Only keep going. People kept going; they had been doing it for thousands of years. You took the kindness offered, letting it seep as far in as it could go, and the remaining dark crevices you carried around with you, knowing that over time they might change into something almost bearable.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Kindness #Dark #Knowing

  • All these lives," she said. "All the stories we never know." (125)
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Stories #Said

  • She didn't like to be alone. Even more, she didn't like being with people. (148)
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #People

  • The key to contentment was to never ask why; she had learned that long ago.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Keys #Long #Contentment

  • And it was too late. No one wants to believe something is too late, but it is always becoming too late, and then it is.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Life #Believe #Too Late

  • You have family", Bob said. "You have a wife who hates you. Kids who are furious with you. A brother and sister who make you insane. And a nephew who used to be kind of a drip but apparently is not so much of a drip now. That's called family".
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Brother #Hate #Kids

  • I'm so interested in the fact that we really don't know anybody. We think we know the people close to us, but we don't, we really don't.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Thinking #People #Facts

  • There were days - she could remember this - when Henry would hold her hand as they walked home, middle-aged people, in their prime. Had they known at these moments to be quietly joyful? Most likely not. People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it. But she had that memory now, of something healthy and pure.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Memories #Live Life #Home

  • She remembered was hope was, and this was it. That inner churning that moves you forward, plows you through life the way the boats plowed the shiny water, the way the plane was plowing forward to a place new, and where she was needed.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Moving #Water #Plowing

  • Each of his son's had been his favorite child.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Children #Son

  • He wanted to put his arms around her, but she had a darkness that seemed to stand beside her like an acquaintance that would not go away.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Darkness #Going Away #Arms

  • Sometimes, like now, Olive had a sense of just how desperately hard every person in the world was working to get what they needed. For most, it was a sense of safety, in the sea of terror that life increasingly became. (211)
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Sea #Safety #World

  • Oh, gosh, Olive. I'm so embarrassed." "No need to be," Olive tells her. "We all want to kill someone at some point." (179)
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Needs #Want #Olives

  • The evenings grew longer; kitchen windows stayed open after dinner and peepers could be heard in the marsh. Isabelle, stepping out to sweep her porch steps, felt absolutely certain that some wonderful change was arriving in her life. The strength of this belief was puzzling; what she was feeling, she decided, was really the presence of God.
    -- Elizabeth Strout

    #Feelings #Kitchen #Arriving