NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • 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.
LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE • ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air
“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.”
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Time, Vulture, She Reads
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
In My Name Is Lucy Barton, novelist Elizabeth Strout sensitively explored the dysfunctional relationship between a grown woman and her estranged mother in a way that was more about healing than blame. This sequel applies the same sense of nuance to a failed marriage. Lucy, now in her sixties, is a successful author mourning the recent death of her second husband. She divorced her first husband—science professor William—more than two decades ago, but they’ve stayed friendly as co-parents. Now in his mid-seventies and on his third marriage, William has discovered a shocking family secret from his childhood that rocks both of their comfortable worlds. Told from Lucy’s chatty, tangent-filled, and often hilarious perspective, Oh William! explores the enduring connections that define a life. It’s a wonderful and emotional read for anyone who finds themselves thinking of an old love with both an exasperated eye roll and genuine tenderness.
Loneliness and betrayal, themes to which the Pulitzer Prize winning Strout has returned throughout her career, are ever present in this illuminating character-driven saga, the third in her Amgash series, after Anything Is Possible. Narrated by Lucy Barton, now a successful writer, the story picks up after the death of Lucy's second husband as she navigates her relationship with her unfaithful first husband, William, the father of her two grown daughters. Lucy and William are still close friends, and though William has also remarried, he still needs Lucy, and she him. When William discovers he has a half sister, he summons Lucy, rather than his current wife, to visit where she lives in Maine. Lucy's quest indeed Strout's quest is to understand people, even if she can't stand them. "We are all mythologies, mysterious. We are all mysteries, is what I mean," she reflects. The strength of Lucy's voice carries the reader, and Strout's characters teem with angst and emotion, all of which Strout handles with a mastery of restraint and often in spare, true sentences. "But when I think Oh William! don't I mean Oh Lucy! too? Don't I mean Oh Everyone, Oh dear Everybody in this whole wide world, we do not know anybody, not even ourselves! Except a little tiny, tiny bit we do." It's not for nothing that Strout has been compared to Hemingway. In some ways, she betters him. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Agency.
A very enjoyable novel full of keen insights into the perplexity of human emotions and relationships. I loved this book.
This story showers you kindly with truths.
Daar Lucy Barton,
I missed you so much. I’m glad you took over the author so you could talk about love some more. You just muddle your way home like we all do. I like the elephants too.
I don’t know why exactly I enjoyed it but I did
I liked the familiar characters and that Lucy now has more wisdom