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Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout - Review

Sunday, June 26, 2022

This was the June book for my book club and I was intriqued by it, even though I haven't read the first book, My Name is Lucy Barton. I think that might have been a book club choice too, but from a time I couldn't make, so I didn't read it. I liked this one though so I ordered My Name Is... so I can read that too.

So this is a sequel to that book, narrated by Lucy Barton whose second husband David has just died. She and her first husband, a scientist called William, are on friendly terms, and this book is about him. He is a little older than her and married to his third wife. Lucy and William have two children, Becka and Chrissy, who are both in their mid 30s and are married. Chrissy has had a miscarriage. Lucy is close to her daughters. William also has a small child, Bridget, aged ten, to his third wife. 

The book has an odd way of narrating stuff - it flips backwards and forwards in time and also from person to person. Lucy tells us a little about her abusive childhood, but I believe the first book delves into this much more deeply. She tells us more about her somewhat unhappy marriage to William, including his affairs and what led to her leaving and him then marrying his second wife, Joanna. It's told in an odd but compelling way, which kept me reading. 

Right at the beginning Lucy tells us that two things happened to William about a year after Lucy lost David, but it's almost halfway through the book before she tells us what these things are. She ends up on a road trip with William on which he is actually insufferable. I didn't like him at all, but that made him interesting to read about - especially as it's clear that Lucy still does feel some kind of way about him.

I'm giving this four out of five because I liked it a lot. I'll try to read the first one soon!

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