Oh William!: A Novel

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In her latest novel, Oh William!, Elizabeth Strout returns to the protagonist she first introduced in My Name is Lucy Barton. Now Lucy is older, although not wiser it seems, as she navigates life in her seventies after a great loss.

To enjoy this book, you must be comfortable with a first-person narrator who isn’t comfortable with herself. Lucy, herself a writer, observes other people with a consistency that seeks to forgive them their transgressions. Her moments of self-reflection, however, are couched within memories that she never quite defines and riddled with a self-doubt that can be off-putting as she notes she is more of a witness to her own life than an active participant.

Much of this is realized as she recounts her first marriage to William and the subsequent one to David, both men who ground her in a world where she often feels invisible. There are lovely, sad little revelations peppered throughout the novel, and Strout is at her best when she’s working through family trauma, but this might be a bit much for someone looking for a light read. However, if you want a character study of an older woman navigating life on her own, Oh William! is the book for you.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 256 pages
Publisher Random House
Publish Date 19-Oct-2021
ISBN 9780812989434
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue February 2022
Category Popular Fiction