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Oh William! Audio CD – Unabridged, 26 October 2021
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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."
"So much intimate, fragile, desperate humanness infuses these pages, it's breathtaking. Almost every declaration carries the force of revelation."--The Washington Post
"For all the depths of anger and despair they uncover, and the bitterness they attest to, Strout's works insist on the su- perabundance of life, the unrealized bliss always immanent in it."--The New York Review of Books
"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
"Strout's simple declarative sentences contain continents. Who is better at conveying loneliness, the inability to communicate, to say the deep important things? Who better to illustrate the legacies of imperfect upbringings, of inadequate parents? When William explains that what attracted him to Lucy was her sense of joy, the reader can only agree. This brilliant, compelling, tender novel is--quite simply--a joy."--The Boston Globe
"Strout doesn't dress language up in a tuxedo when a wool sweater will suffice. Other novelists must berate themselves when they see what Strout pulls off without any tacky pyrotechnics."--Los Angeles Times
"The miraculous quality of Strout's fiction is the way she opens up depths with the simplest of touches, and this novel ends with the assurance that the source of love lies less in understanding than in recognition--although it may take a lifetime to learn the difference."--The Guardian
"At the core of . . . Strout's best-selling fiction are characters grappling with huge questions about love, loss and family through seemingly ordinary moments. The domestic dramas that fill her books lead to startling revelations about the complexities that accompany marriage, parenthood and growing old. Her new novel is no exception."--Time
"[Strout] invests us deeply in Lucy's epiphany: Even though we are fueled by presumptions and believe what we want to believe, the truth is always within our sight."--Star Tribune
"[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
"Keenly observed and rich with illuminating insight, Strout's tender mercies continue to astound."--Esquire
"The Pulitzer Prize-winning [Oprah's Book Club] author reprises her literary avatar, Lucy Barton, in this radiant--if melancholy--contemplation of marriage, mortality, and love's complexities."--Oprah Daily
About the Author
- Publisher : Random House Audio Publishing Group; Unabridged edition (26 October 2021)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 0593416112
- ISBN-13 : 978-0593416112
- Dimensions : 12.93 x 2.9 x 14.96 cm
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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Lucy Barton is now 63 years old, and recently widowed. David Abramson, her late husband, is a man with whom she felt comfortable. They understood each other, they supported each other. The William of the title is Lucy’s first husband, the father of their now adult daughters, Chrissy and Becka. William is now 71, and despite their marriage breakdown and subsequent marriages, Lucy and William have remained friends. And so, it is to Lucy that William turns when he wants help with unravelling a family secret.
Lucy and William embark on a journey, into a past that William was unaware of and into a shared past which has Lucy sharing her insights and reflections. I enjoyed this novel.
Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.
In this story Lucy Barton is now in her early sixties and her ex-husband William has turned seventy. They are still good friends and the story is like one running narrative of Lucy's past and present relationship with William.
It feels almost like reading a diary, with Lucy's unfiltered view on people and her own feelings just spilling out onto the page.
The story is sad, happy, nostalgic and often quite humorous. I really enjoyed it, although I feel it will not be a book that is to everyone's taste.
In this one, first husband William discovers he has an older half sister and he and Lucy go on a quest to find this woman. In doing so, they need to heavily revise what they know of William’s mother. By the end of the novel Lucy’s feeling about William undergoes a radical shift as well. Lucy faces the complexities of herself too, finding not everything inside her admirable, but considering her unfortunate background she’s done very well to give and receive love, to live a life true to herself with such courage.
Strout writes Lucy as unpretentiously honest, observant and insightful about nuances of expression and mood, as if she is beguiled with ever changing discoveries of what’s inside those around her, including her two adult daughters. The only thing that occasionally grates is the repetition of “What I mean is …” but we understand why she does it. She’s trying to be clear.
Top reviews from other countries
I never skip one line in Strout's work, her gentle, honest and nuanced writing is too precious to miss one word.
I can't think of any other writer who describes so authentically the complex and sometimes contradictory nature of personalities and relationships.