In a small coastal town in Maine, Olive Kitteridge is the complex and often unpredictable town crier, a person who sees into the hearts of others, discerning their triumphs and tragedies, while not always seeing herself. A retired schoolteacher, she plays a leading or subsidiary role in many lives, always with a strong and convincing mixture of psychological insight and anger, compassion and deep resentment. Around her swirl such characters as a lounge singer haunted by a past love, a young man who aches for the mother he lost - whom Olive comforts by her mere presence - while her own son feels tyrannized by her overbearing sensitivities, and her stoic husband is bound to her in a marriage both broken and strong. These are the penetrating tales of the human soul in need - sometimes despairing, more often redeemed. Elizabeth Strout, in her lambent prose and amazing humanity, offers us one of modern literature's richest characters and profound insight into the human condition.