Oh William! Elizabeth Strout

With Oh William! author Elizabeth Strout has written another story around one of her literary characters Lucy Barton. In this book, Lucy is a successful writer living in New York navigating the second half of her life as a recent widow and parent to her two adult daughters Chrissy and Becka. A surprise encounter leads her to reconnect with William, her first husband - and longtime, on-again-off-again friend and confidant. Lucy tells the reader in this novel about their college years, the birth of their daughters, the painful dissolution of their marriage, and the lives they built with other people. It is a portrait of a tender, complex, decades-long partnership.

Right from the start it feels like I'm visiting an elderly lady, Lucy. I'm sitting on her couch and she's telling me about her first husband William. But it's hard for her not to get sidetracked, because everything is so entwined. After all these years, every little part of her life and being has been influenced by William. Elizabeth Strout’s lovely and cosy style especially gives the impression that I am indeed Lucy's confidante, that she finally has someone to tell her story to. Or as she says, William's story, sighing from time to time, "Oh William!"

I have really enjoyed reading Lucy's story. Even though the style had me captivated, I was not blown away by the plot. Notwithstanding, it touches on some quite emotional themes like love and loss. Although I was not exactly moved by it, I did laugh from time to time at William’s childish behaviour or at Lucy’s witty responses. All in all, I think I just did not really like the two main characters. Perhaps the age gap between me and the protagonists was just a little too wide.

But let me express again that I do love Elizabeth Strout's writing style. She has a very warm and loving way of telling a story, without it seeming too easy or cheap. She has a delicate way of making everyday subjects interesting, all the while working her magic

By Elise Prins-Kleuskens