Book Review: Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

Posted October 15, 2021 by WendyW in Book Review, New Release / 6 Comments

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Oh William!
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

by Elizabeth Strout
Publication Date October 6, 2021
Published by Random House Publishing Group
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Genres: Fiction / Family Life / General, Fiction / Literary, Fiction / Sagas
Pages: 256
Format: ARC

Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout explores the mysteries of marriage and the secrets we keep, as a former couple reckons with where they've come from--and what they've left behind.

"Elizabeth Strout is one of my very favorite writers, so the fact that Oh William! may well be my favorite of her books is a mathematical equation for joy. The depth, complexity, and love contained in these pages is a miraculous achievement."--Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House

I would like to say a few things about my first husband, William.

Lucy Barton is a writer, but her ex-husband, William, remains a hard man to read. William, she confesses, has always been a mystery to me. Another mystery is why the two have remained connected after all these years. They just are.

So Lucy is both surprised and not surprised when William asks her to join him on a trip to investigate a recently uncovered family secret--one of those secrets that rearrange everything we think we know about the people closest to us. What happens next is nothing less than another example of what Hilary Mantel has called Elizabeth Strout's "perfect attunement to the human condition." There are fears and insecurities, simple joys and acts of tenderness, and revelations about affairs and other spouses, parents and their children. On every page of this exquisite novel we learn more about the quiet forces that hold us together--even after we've grown apart.

At the heart of this story is the indomitable voice of Lucy Barton, who offers a profound, lasting reflection on the very nature of existence. "This is the way of life," Lucy says: "the many things we do not know until it is too late."

My Review:

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout is the third book in Elizabeth’s Strout’s Amgash Series but can be read as a stand-alone, however, it’s really best to read the series in order. The book is written all in first person POV by Lucy is an author and the book is like a conversation with Lucy about her life, and especially about her ex-husband William.

Lucy Barton tells us all about her ex-husband, William. Although no longer married, Lucy and William still have a relationship, not only do they share their two adult daughters, but they share past experiences and a history together. Oh William, is all about Lucy, telling us about her marriage to William and how they both have navigated love, loss, divorce, and love again.

At first, the writing style is a bit jarring, but after a while, I felt like I was having a conversation with Lucy. Her insights into herself and her family are intimate and thoughtful and I enjoyed this easy conversation we had while reading the book. At first, Lucy seems kind of ordinary, but as you read through the book, you realize what an extraordinary woman she is.

The story was more than just flashbacks and memories, Lucy and William work together and find out some family secrets, and learn more about each other’s background and they grow stronger as they work together.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves to read about families and relationships. I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

6 responses to “Book Review: Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

  1. How much repetition did you notice in this book?

    I like it when stories are set in a series but can technically be read out of order if you discover a later book in them that appeals to you.

    Although I always read books in chronological order unless I genuinely didn’t know they were a later instalment of a series.

    Which means that I get a little discombobulated with series like the Chronicles of Narnia that are written in non-chronological order. It was surprise to get later in that series and suddenly be flung back into the characters’ pasts. LOL! Although I totally understood why C.S. Lewis did that and soon adjusted quite well.

    Anyway, good review. 🙂 If more books come out in this series, will you read them?

    • Yes, there was a fair amount of repetition in this book, but it’s part of the authors writing style as it’s a stream of consciousness narration. I think I would read another book in this series, but I’d go back and read the first two books first.