| 3.2°C Dublin

Close

Premium

Oh William! – Another side of Lucy Barton and American dreams

Elizabeth Strout forces us to see her characters – and our world – anew in this subtle and moving novel built on grief, rejected ideals and unexpected trauma

Close

Author Elizabeth Strout

Author Elizabeth Strout

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

/

Author Elizabeth Strout

It’s been five years since we first encountered Lucy Barton, in her hospital bed in New York, in the Booker-longlisted My Name is Lucy Barton. We learned about her poverty-stricken early life, her relationship with her mother, her escape to college, her first flushes as a writer. In Anything is Possible, she made a reappearance, returning to the town of Amgash, Illinois, where she was raised. That was narrated in the third-person and focused more on small-town life than on Lucy herself. So, while Oh William! is technically the third of the Lucy Barton books, it feels a bit like the second. Strout returns to first-person mode, with Lucy as our narrator, in this unsurprisingly moving and luminous novel.

Running through My Name is Lucy Barton was the refrain “Lucy comes from nothing”. It was a shorthand her mother-in-law, Catherine, used when introducing her to people. Of course, as Lucy realises: “No one in this world comes from nothing.” The sentiment is cleverly reprised in Oh William!. Whence does William come, for example? And his mother, Catherine, who spoke those words? These questions set our narrative in motion.


Most Watched





Privacy