Published: October 21st, 2021
Genre: Literary Fiction, Saga
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Oh William. Thank you to Viking for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.
“But who ever really knows the experience of another?”
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 longtime, 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.’
We are back with Lucy Barton. Told in the present day, Lucy is now in her sixties and recently widowed. She and her first husband, William, have an amicable but complex relationship which is the focus of the book, exploring their marriage, the lives they’ve built since divorcing, taking a look at their pasts, and unearthing some surprising family secrets.
This is a story of unfinished relationships. Of self reflection, introspection, regrets, acceptance and forgiveness. Told in the same conversational style, Lucy again narrates the story. But while I was blown away by its predecessor, this one didn’t quite hit that same sweet spot for me. And it was because of William. This serial philanderer wasn’t particularly likeable or endearing and I didn’t feel any connection to him or invested in the trials and tribulations he was facing. Maybe if he’d narrated it I’d have felt a bond that had me more invested, I don’t know. It also felt like this book was more melancholy, where the other was chilled. And it was missing that emotional pull that drew me into the character’s story and made me need to know they would be ok.
But there are things I did enjoy, like getting to see more of their daughters, looking back at more of Lucy’s childhood, and the storyline about William’s father, who was a German Prisoner of War in Maine. The latter was my favourite part of the book and if the whole novel had been an exploration of the lives of William’s parents then it would have been more interesting to me.
There is no doubt that Elizabeth Strout is a gifted storyteller. Her writing is intelligent, poised and thoughtful, enveloping you in the world she’s created. When I started reading this book it felt like I’d been wrapped in a warm hug, and I am looking forward to seeing what tone and style her books outside of this series take.
Overall, I do recommend this book, especially if you enjoyed her previous book or family sagas. After all, we all read the same book differently and I believe it’s important to make up our own minds about each one.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Elizabeth Strout is the author of the New York Times bestseller Olive Kitteridge, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; the national bestseller Abide with Me; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in London. She lives in Maine and New York City.
BUY THE BOOK:
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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.
Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️Emma xxx
2 replies on “Blog Tour: Oh William by Elizabeth Strout”
Interesting and enlightening review. I’ve been tempted of late to branch away from what I typically read, and check out some literary fiction books ( not something I read much of). Thanks for the helpful review. 🙂
It only bothered me a little that I didn’t feel enough of an emotional connection here, maybe because I was already invested in Lucy from the previous two books.