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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning, Booker-longlisted, best-selling author returns to her beloved heroine Lucy Barton in a luminous novel about love, loss and the family secrets that can erupt and bewilder us at any point in life.

Lucy Barton is a successful writer living in New York, navigating the second half of her life as a recent widow and parent to two adult daughters. A surprise encounter leads her to reconnect with William, her first husband - and long-time, on-again-off-again friend and confidante.

Recalling their college years, the birth of their daughters, the painful dissolution of their marriage and the lives they built with other people, Strout weaves a portrait, stunning in its subtlety, of a tender, complex, decades-long partnership.

Oh William! captures the joy and sorrow of watching children grow up and start families of their own; of discovering family secrets, late in life, that alter everything we think we know about those closest to us; and the way people live and love, against all odds. At the heart of this story is the unforgettable, indomitable voice of Lucy Barton, who once again offers a profound, lasting reflection on the mystery of existence. 'This is the way of life,' Lucy says. 'The many things we do not know until it is too late.'

©2021 Elizabeth Strout (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"A superbly gifted storyteller and a craftswoman in a league of her own." (Hilary Mantel)

"A terrific writer." (Zadie Smith)

"She gets better with each book." (Maggie O'Farrell)

What listeners say about Oh William!

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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A very American story

Kimberley Farr is amazing and IS Lucy. Typical brilliant Elizabeth Strout narrative that deserves 4.5 stars.

2 people found this helpful

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A portrait of love, loss and family secrets

I did enjoy listening to Kimberly Farr's reading of Oh William. She read it so well that I was convinced I was listening to the author reading her own novel. Great writing as always from ES . I found the characters credible and the plot moved along at just the right pace.

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moving insightful and helpful

great writing so simple yet tells you everything. more on the life and thinking of lucy barton as she reflects on her marriage to william

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  • kk
  • 20-02-22

Like listening to paint dry

Struggled to see the point of it. Depressing at best. After several hours I started to feel the same age as the characters.

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A simple slice of life?

This story is very pertinent for those of us who are in our later years! It’s a non story in a way as it speaks of life’s developments and reflections. But I enjoyed it immensely and the narration was beautiful and completely in accord with the books content. So overall a great nook to listen to. I admit I found Lucy’s anxiety wearing, sloughs understandable, as the characters were all so human so deeply relatable.

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Another Winner

Enjoyed this book as much as I've enjoyed all of Elizabeth Strout's books. Not everyone's cup of tea but certainly mine!

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very disappointing to be honest

I didn't manage to finish it. I thoroughly enjoyed Lucy Barton and Olive Kitteridge, but this was tedious and depressing.

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Gloomy,depressing, socially handicapped

It was really painful to soldier on till the very end. I thought that the book was written by a bitter, disappointed in everything, woman. It was depressing and gloomy.
The narration was not what I expected either. It was as if the narrator was on the brink of tears or in physical pain most of the time.
I would definitely not recommend this book and I considered the hours, spent listening, wasted.

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Gorgeous characterisation

A short review to say this, for me, is the best yet of Elizabeth Strouts novels. The nuance of her characterisation, people with their complexities and contradictions, is simply wonderful. The narrator gets the tone and pacing just right, so that I felt like I was in the mind of the central character, Lucy Barton. It’s inspired me to re-read all the Elizabeth Strout novels I have read and enjoyed before.

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So nice to spend time with Lucy again

Is there a writer so adept at capturing the mixture and thoughts and emotions of individuals and relationships that are not usually spoken out loud.? Not that I know. Perfectly narrated too. if you haven't met Lucy Barton (main character) yet -read(listen) to her first. That book that will stay with me forever.

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  • Earnest
  • 01-11-21

Gently true. A meandering tale of us.

Although I have preferred all the more “punchy,” harder edges Strout novels, I guess this tale is a reflection of the past two years’ effect on all of us and perhaps on Lucy Barton as well.
Sad to say it, but while William is around, mustache or not, he WILL have the authority and Lucy will remain largely invisible to him.
My certainty centers on the very powerful characterizations provided.
Sadly I think that the rather tentative voice of the actor reading the text coloured my perception of just how strong Lucy might actually be. Worth a lot of thinking about.