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I loved this book as I have loved her others. Her characters are so relatable, I feel like I am a bystander watching it all unfold and occasionally a nod recognition from some part of my life, maybe something that has just occurred to me. I was sad when I finished it .
I hadn't realised that this was the third book in a series, but felt it was still quite good as a stand alone novel. Having said that,I am now keen to read the first to books in the 'Amgash' series. 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 next instalment of the Lucy Barton story Strout does her usual thing of seeming to write about quotidian life in all its ordinariness but in doing so, extracts complexities of the human psyche in their known and unknown mysteriousness. As Lucy says at the end, who can say what people have within them and why we turn out as we do? In the end, all that’s left to us is to see the dearness in all the souls around us even when we can see faults of character. 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.
Newly widowed Lucy Barton, a successful writer now in her sixties, has retained an amicable relationship with her first husband -the father of her two daughters. This complex relationship stands at the heart of the novel - a story of regret, reflection and the revelation of some surprising family secrets. This is a short novel and a quick read that will, nonetheless, give you plenty to think about when you have finished it. Elegant, nuanced, deceptively layered.
I came to Strout's writing with My Name is Lucy Barton - a profoundly moving novel, every sentence formed so beautifully as Oh William is too. 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.
I just love Elizabeth Strout’s books. She has an inimitable style which is often like listening to someone in conversation or talking to themselves. She describes and reflects so well the complexities that ordinary people can have in their lives and how they decide to deal with them. An American friend introduced me to Olive Kitteridge several years ago - what a character! From that I went onto read all the others and, as someone who reads hundreds of books each year, I have to say I enjoy Elizabeth’s the most. There is just such an engaging essence to all that she writes and her characters are fascinating, yet quite down to earth as well. And Oh William ! is no exception - marvellous stuff!
I loved this short book reflecting two long lives and the relationships that were important to William and Lucy. I loved the understanding and the humanity and the forgiveness and with it, the acceptance of sadness, damage and neglect. The author said it was intended for those who needed it and for me, it held a mirror to my own life and marriage. It’s a wise and wholly satisfying book.
Elizabeth Stroud writes on human experience with subtlety and simplicity. Writing without a hint of self pity, of how an emotionally and physically impoverished childhood, pervades the adult sense of self consequently enduring less visibly abusive relationships.Her innate intelligence and wisdom enables her to experience genuine love. Great compassion with no sentimentality. I love her.