Oh William! Oh Lucy! Oh marriage! Oh life! Oh god!
Elizabeth Strout’s 2022 Booker Prize shortlisted novel Oh William! makes you want to gulp it down – you really do not want to waste any time or linger with the book for long. The protagonist of the novel, Lucy Barton, is not unfamiliar to the steadfast readers of Strout’s – this is her third appearance since the eponymous 2016 novel My Name is Lucy Barton and 2017 novel Anything is Possible.
While the prequels (of sorts) were a deep dive into Lucy’s formative years and early adulthood, Oh William! finds her as an elderly woman in her 60s – divorced from her first husband William, widowed after the death of her second husband David, mother of two adult daughters, famous author of several novels, and still coming to terms with her unhappy childhood.
As she journeys through life, Lucy cannot really wipe herself clean of her past. The novel begins in motion – The ‘William’ in the title is Lucy’s first husband, William Gerhardt, a 71-year-old man who is in the pink of health and still enjoys a career as a scientist and a professor. Though they have been divorced for many years, William confides in Lucy about something that has been literally keeping…