The Perceptive Quality Of Elizabeth Strout 's Pulitzer Prize Winning Novel, Olive Kitteridge

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The perceptive quality of Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Olive Kitteridge, focuses on the ordinary, the regular, and quotidian aspects of life; growing old, the fluctuations of a marriage, the anxious growth of children, and life’s everyday trivialities and little feelings that swell throughout an individual lifespan. Strout achieves this empathetic sense by using long detailed and descriptive sentences, a healthy mix of cumulative and periodic which explore and bluntly state solid truths about the people of the setting. This mix of sentence structure and style parallels the nuance of the characters and the development of emotional power within the book. The narrator is an omnipresent being who hangs above the setting, the Maine town of Crosby, giving the reader all of the intimate details of Olive and all else. Strout’s writing is surprisingly simplistic in its subject matter, but she uses complexity to frame her stories and make them real people. Likability and a central moving plot are all but sacrificed in favor of strong character-driven explorations of empathy and respect.

Throughout Olive Kitteridge, the narrative makes extra strides to read like the audience is venturing into a lived in space—homey, a little worn, a little sad, and familiar by a great deal. The very first sentence of the book creates this feeling immediately: “For many years Henry Kitteridge was a pharmacist in the next town over, driving every morning on snowy roads, or rainy…

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