Oh, Wiiliam; Elizabeth Strout
Random House - 10/2021
Oh, William! is the third book in the Amgash series which includes: My Name is Lucy Barton (2016), Anything is Possible (2017). Oh, William! can definitely be read as a standalone because much of the first (2) books is repeated in the form of flashbacks.
This story begins with Lucy 63 and William about to turn 70. Lucy left William after 21 years of marriage and the couple have grown daughters Becka and Chrissy - now in their 30s. Over the years Lucy and William have remained friendly. Now Lucy is a successful author and she has just lost her second husband David. William was a habitual womanizer and as the story begins he is married to his third wife. Estelle is a much younger woman and she and William have a 10 year old daughter together. William is now in crisis mode and seeks Lucy's help and companionship as he worries about being alone and experiencing night terrors. I don't want to say too much and spoil the story for all my Strout fans out there. I was happy to return and read more about Lucy and Wiiliam as seniors.
William who grew up in Newton, MA wealthy, was such an unsympathetic character. I understand why his wives grew tired of him. He comes across as aloof and disengaged. His every issue and concern is about himself and yet he has the nerve to tell Lucy she is "self-absorbed and a "strange one."
Lucy in contrast grew up in Amgash, Il in poverty. A therapist once told her she had full blown PTSD from her abusive childhood mostly at the hands of her cold, uncaring mother. Unlike William, Lucy is overly concerned about how her actions might make others feel. She never felt like she knew William well enough to tell him when she was feeling anxious and he had no patience for her panic attacks. Lucy is overly sensitive and over thinks her every action but, yet she had the courage to leave William and focus on her writing career.
This story is character driven and told mostly through flashbacks where Strout fans will get a brief refresher on the earlier series books. There is a lot of introspection and some thought provoking moments but, also some funny stream of consciousness writing as well. I'm happy I read all (3) books and, yes, I loved this one. There is a reason Elizabeth Strout won the Pulitzer for Fiction in 2009. She is so talented and is definitely a favorite author of mine.
Thanks go to Random House for allowing me access to an early release eGalley.
Rating - 4.5/5 stars