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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Oh, William!

Amgash Series (3 of 3)

ISBN: 0812989430

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: 10/19/21

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars ++ (ARC)

Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout explores the mysteries of marriage and the secrets we keep, as a former couple reckons with where they’ve come from—and what they’ve left behind.

“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.”

My Review

Talented Elizabeth Strout returns following Anything Is Possible (2017) and My Name Is Lucy Barton (2016) with her eighth book, and third in the Amgash series, OH William! —where Lucy re-connects with her ex-husband William and the past and present convene. Oh, how I loved this book.

"Meditative. Reflective. Soulful."

Lucy grew up in poverty in Amgash, IL, and those days in her past still haunt her even though she is now a successful author and resides in New York.

Her second husband, David (a cellist) has recently died, and she is still grieving. Her first husband, William (age 71), and Lucy (age 64) are still friends and they share two grown daughters.

William is now married to his 3rd wife (much younger) and they have a young daughter together. However, William feels comfortable talking to Lucy, and William is often distant and one of the reasons Lucy left him, plus his infidelity.

Lucy has always felt safe with William and now he shares some of his personal feelings with her and his night tremors. Lucy thinks he has not dealt with his mother's death.

When William's wife gives him an Ancestry gift card for his birthday, he digs into Catherine's past (his mother) and learns she came from a very poor background and had a child with her first husband that she had never mentioned.

William cannot stop thinking about this and asks Lucy to go on a road trip to Maine to try and find his sister and more about his mother's past.

Lucy is not wild about this trip but agrees. Soon into the trip, she remembers all too well why she left William in the first place. Things are tense, but again, this is Lucy, so she always makes you smile and laugh out loud. Loved the part about the pants being too short.

Lucy always felt inferior around Catherine, William's mom, since she always seemed so worldly and even made a few remarks in the past about Lucy's impoverished background.

As they embark on their journey, the two struggle with their past, loneliness, grief, and soon discover that they both still suffer from traumas from their past; however, they may have shaped them for the person they have become.

Oh William! explores William and Lucy's relationship both past and present with a trip down memory lane. Both are complex characters yet somehow they feel safe together but better apart. But they have learned to depend on one another.

The novel can be read as a standalone; however, would highly recommend reading the previous books in order to enhance your reading experience.

I adore this series and it was fun catching up with Lucy and William. I enjoy Strout's writing immensely and when reading you feel like you are speaking with a best friend telling a story. She is one of my favorite authors and find her writing captivating and thought-provoking.

A special thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an early reading copy. I also purchased the audiobook narrated by Kimberly Farr.

Blog Review:


My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Pub Date: Oct 19, 2021

Top Books of 2021

Praise for Elizabeth Strout

“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

“[Strout] illuminates both what people understand about others and what they understand about themselves.”

—The New York Times Book Review

“Strout managed to make me love this strange woman I’d never met, who I knew nothing about. What a terrific writer she is.”

—Zadie Smith

“Strout animates the ordinary with an astonishing force. . . . [She] makes us experience not only the terrors of change but also the terrifying hope that change can bring: she plunges us into these churning waters and we come up gasping for air.”

—The New Yorker

“Writing of this quality comes from a commitment to listening, from a perfect attunement to the human condition, from an attention to reality so exact that it goes beyond a skill and becomes a virtue.”

—Hilary Mantel

“Reading an Elizabeth Strout novel is like peering into your neighbor’s windows. . . . There is a nuanced tension in the novel, evoked by beautiful and detailed writing. Strout’s manifestations of envy, pride, guilt, selflessness, bigotry and love are subtle and spot-on.”

—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Strout is a brilliant chronicler of the ambiguity and delicacy of the human condition.”

—The Guardian

About the Author

Elizabeth Strout is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Olive, Again; Anything Is Possible, winner of the Story Prize; My Name Is Lucy Barton; The Burgess Boys; Olive Kitteridge, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; Abide with Me; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in London.

She lives in Maine.







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