I am a great fan of Elizabeth Strout. For those of you untouched by her genius, she is an American writer – in her glorious 60’s with something to say. I recently recommended her writing to a friend because of her wonderful characters. When I did a little research online, I discovered that everything she writes begins with character. Some of you may know her Lucy Barton and Olive Kitterage to name two of her most famous but there are a multitude more flawed and honest human beings in her work. My online research also offered hope in the form of rejection. Fifteen years without even a “Try us again.” She hasn’t elaborated how that felt though most of us have a pretty good idea. What she has said is that it made her free to write whatever she wanted because she knew no-one was going to read it. Eventually she won the Pulitzer Prize – along with a string of other literary awards and has seen her work on film and television. I don’t offer her as an example of someone with an aspirational career path, I offer her as a writer of wonderful stories full of complex, wonderful characters which show us that American’s are a lot more than the nonsense we see on the nightly news. I hope you appreciate her as much as I do.