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.
It’s possible I should just avoid reading literary fiction. I liked the voice in this—but I really didn’t like the character it belonged to. Lucy is whiny and selfish. William is even worse. And the plot, what there was of one, was lackluster and boring to me. Good writing, but the style just isn’t for me.
Elizabeth Strout is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Oh William! is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Random House in exchange for an honest review.)