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. Recounting their college years, the birth of their daughters, the painful dissolution of their marriage and the lives they built with other people, Strout paints a portrait, stunning in its subtlety, of a decades – long partnership.
Oh William! is a luminous novel about the myriad mysteries that make up a marriage, about discovering family secrets, late in life, that rearrange everything we think we know about those closest to us, and the way people continue to live and love, against all odds. At the heart of this story is the unforgettable, indomitable voice of Lucy Barton, who 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.’
Thank you firstly to Georgia Taylor at Viking Books for inviting me to be involved in this blog tour and sending me a proof copy of the book. I have been a fan of Elizabeth Strout for some years now and you can read my thoughts on My Name is Lucy Barton and Anything is Possible here and Olive Kitteridge here
Returning to this author who I last read in 2017 was wonderful, the writing both unique and familiar, I enjoyed the feeling of being back in conversation with Lucy Barton. For those who don’t know, Lucy Barton grew up in a poor and abusive home, she moved away and found success as a writer and settled in New York. The previous 2 books have offered insight into her childhood, while Oh William! refers to her first husband who Lucy has maintained a positive relationship with. Grieving her second husband, her friendship with William is positive, supportive and familiar. Going through his own difficulties he leans on Lucy and she finds strength in his distraction.
As mentioned above Elizabeth Strout has a unique writing style, the story is told in the first person voice of Lucy, reading her work is like listening to a friend and a times the voice of Lucy is tangible. She is a warm and likeable character, straight talking, open and honest.
For anyone seeking excellent character driven novels, easy to read but with strong, relatable, flawed characters Strout is your author. Oh William! is the third book about Lucy Barton and while not essential that you read these books in order, I don’t know why you wouldn’t! My Name is Lucy Barton was longlisted for the 2016 Booker Prize and Anything is Possible comprises short stories relating to Lucy and the town in which she grew up. I thought they were both excellent reads and Oh William! lived up to all expectations and was a superb read. It has left me wondering about rereading the other two books though… and as someone who never rereads that is huge praise.
I have seen lots of great reviews for Oh William! As well as this blog tour there is also an Instagram Tour so do check out what others are saying about this great, short and highly readable fiction book.
About the Author
Elizabeth Strout is the Pulitzer Prize – winning author of Olive Kitteridge, as well as The Burgess Boys, Abide With Me, Amy and Isabelle, My Name is Lucy Barton, Anything is Possible and Olive, Again. She has been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Orange Prize and the Booker Prize. She lives in Maine