Oh William!: A Novel (Hardcover)
November 2021 Indie Next List
“With sparse and familiar prose, Elizabeth Strout tells the story of Lucy’s ex-husband, William, as he navigates late-in-life changes, revealing deeper truths about how past and present combine to make us who we are. A wonderful novel.”
— Courtney Flynn, Trident Booksellers & Cafe, Boston, MA
ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Time, Vulture, She Reads
“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.”
“Being privy to the innermost thoughts of Lucy Barton—and, more to the point, deep inside a book by Strout—makes readers feel safe. We know we’re in good hands.”—NPR
“A poignant master class on aging and vulnerability . . . Oh William! . . . serves as a gentle reminder to be emotionally generous with our loved ones and as physically present as possible each and every day of our lives.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“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. . . . Strout’s characters teem with angst and emotion, all of which [she] handles with a mastery of restraint and often in spare, true sentences. . . . It’s not for nothing that Strout has been compared to Hemingway. In some ways, she betters him.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)