O by Jo Lilford

Olive Kitteridge to Owen Meany

I chose people it should be hard to love – though I do. Olive is from Elizabeth Strout’s eponymous book. A cumbersome, often caustic and faithless widow and maths teacher, I love her for her recalcitrant understanding of her own limitations. Owen is from John Irving’s extraordinary novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany. Physically tiny and often comical, I can think of fewer characters more massive. His life is a preparation for the ultimate sacrifice, giving his life to save others. As residents in neighbouring states, I took the liberty of imagining that Olive once taught Owen.