Book Review: Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

This is the third book that Strout has created around the character Lucy Barton; I was eager to read Oh William! because I love the story and backstory that Strout has created around her in My Name Is Lucy Barton and Anything Is Possible. (She is nothing like Olive Kittredge!)   I love Lucy’s simple, honest, choppy voice, and the quiet but determined way in which she faces and overcomes (in part) the poverty and trauma of her childhood.  Her reflections on life, love, loneliness, and identity are simple, but they really resonate for me.  I picked up Oh William! ready to go on whatever journey Lucy was going to take me on.

This installment of her story delves into her complex relationship with her first husband (William) and takes place mostly after they have divorced, remarried, and moved on.  They are still friends, and have built loving relationships with their two grown daughters. But they are both fundamentally still very lonely, solitary souls: Lucy’s second husband has died, and William’s latest marriage is about to come apart.  Lucy and William still love and support each other, but still struggle to deal with each other’s foibles. The tensions between them are beautifully illustrated when they decide to take a trip together to Maine to learn more about a long-kept secret in William’s family history.  The trip culminates in some devastating discoveries for both of them.

A quick and engaging read by this wonderful author.

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