Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout is not really a novel; it is a series of short stories spread over a period of some twenty-five years and held together together by location, a small town in Maine, and the indomitable character of Olive herself. Olive is a 7th grade school teacher who has taught more than a generation of the town’s children; the wife to a man much nicer than herself; and the overweening, tiresome mother to a rather unpleasant son. Olive is crusty, awkward and insensitive. Yet in spite of rather than because of her sensibilities, she often says something that is just right in a particular situation – a former student contemplating suicide, a wayward girl suffering from depression. But she is equally capable of putting her untactful foot right into it – usually when her nearest and dearest are concerned. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Olive appears as a middle-aged wife, an aging spouse, a widow, a mother out of touch with the vagaries of her son’s very 21st century lifestyle and finally, as a elderly woman learning to appreciate the clumsy comfort of companionship and even, new love. I enjoyed the humanity of this book and was delighted to discover the writing of Elizabeth Strout. This was an interesting choice for a Pulitzer Prize winner (2009), such a understated gem populated with believable, small and endearing rather than larger than life characters.