Published: 19 October 2021
Author: Elizabeth Strout
Published by: Penguin
Genre: Literary Fiction
Length: 240 pages
Reading dates: 30 October – 2 November 2021
The Pulitzer Prize-winning, Booker-longlisted, bestselling author returns to her beloved heroine Lucy Barton in a luminous novel about love, loss, and the family secrets that can erupt and bewilder us at any point in life.
Lucy Barton is a successful writer living in New York, navigating the second half of her life as a recent widow and parent to two adult daughters. A surprise encounter leads her to reconnect with William, her first husband – and long-time, on-again-off-again friend and confidante. Recalling their college years, the birth of their daughters, the painful dissolution of their marriage, and the lives they built with other people, Strout weaves a portrait, stunning in its subtlety, of a tender, complex, decades-long partnership.
Oh William! captures the joy and sorrow of watching children grow up and start families of their own; of discovering family secrets, late in life, that alter everything we think we know about those closest to us; and the way people live and love, against all odds. At the heart of this story is the unforgettable, indomitable voice of Lucy Barton, who once again offers a profound, lasting reflection on the mystery of existence. ‘This is the way of life,’ Lucy says. ‘The many things we do not know until it is too late.’
Oh William! is narrated by best selling author Lucy Barton, whose second husband David has just died. This book is about her grief for him but mainly focusses on her relationship with her ex-husband, and father of her children, William. On occasion since their divorce, they meet for coffee and chats and as the book begins William has split up from his current wife and discovered some family news which has really unnerved him. William asks her to embark on a road trip with him and this book is Lucy’s stream of consciousness, as she reminisces on her life and her relationship with William.
This is my second Elizabeth Strout novel – I read The Burgess Boys back in 2016 and I wasn’t that fussed but I wonder now if I went back and read it again, I would enjoy it more? I have read more literary fiction over the last 5 years and I think my taste in books has changed. I loved Oh William! so much – I think this is definitely going to be in my top 10 of 2021 and that Strout may be a new favourite author. I want to go back and read the first two in this series of books My Name is Lucy Barton and Anything is Possible. It didn’t matter reading this that I hadn’t read the first two parts of this series but I wish I had,
I loved Lucy’s narration and her thoughts and felt like I really connected to her. Hearing about the early days of her first marriage was really interesting and her observations about William were brilliant. Strout is a truly talented author who I would absolutely urge you to read this book.
Many thanks to Georgia at Penguin for the proof copy and for inviting me on the blog tour. You can check out the other bloggers who are shouting about this book below
About the author
Elizabeth Strout is the author of several novels, including: Abide with Me, a national bestseller and BookSense pick, and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. In 2009 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her book Olive Kitteridge. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker. She teaches at the Master of Fine Arts program at Queens University of Charlotte.
Yes, this is a 2021 favorite for me as well. I think you’d enjoy reading the previous two, but although they are about Lucy, they’re very different from this. That’s why it is also good as a stand-alone.
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