One of the most intriguing characters in contemporary literature is back! Olive Kitteridge, whom we first met in Strout’s eponymous novel of 2008, is not the most likable woman. She’s got a Down East bluntness and speaks her mind, often sharply. Her inner thoughts are often nasty but she doesn’t let them out. She has her prejudices to be sure, but in an instant she’ll jump to admonish someone she thinks has been unfair to another. Olive is generous and has a wonderful capacity to learn about her self–her foibles and her talents–as she moves into the later years. Now widowed, lonely, trying to mend fences with her son, tentatively reaching out to other citizens of her seaside town of Crosby, Maine, we read of Olive’s life during her 70s and 80s, and watch her staying fiercely independent, marry again (!), maybe regretting it, thinking more and more fondly of her first husband. These loosely connected vignettes don’t all feature Olive as the main character, but she is in the orbit of every character in the book and they are in hers. I don’t know if I’d like Olive is she were before me in flesh and blood, but I must admit I’d love to have the chance.