‘Reading is a celebration of the mystery of ourselves,’ according to Elizabeth Strout, who writes to help readers understand themselves and other people. In Oh William!, Strout resurrects Lucy Barton, the enigmatic heroine of a previous novel, setting her on a mission to get to know William, her first husband.
This is Strout’s third outing for Lucy, who also reappeared in Anything is Possible, a collection of interlinked stories about the residents of Amgash, Illinois, Lucy’s hometown. Now in her early sixties and newly widowed, Lucy is good friends with William, who is on wife number three — Estelle, a woman 22 years younger than him. ‘And that was no easy thing,’ Lucy, a successful novelist, writes.
Strout fans will know William from My Name is Lucy Barton, the 2016 novel that became a one-woman play, starring Laura Linney, which Lucy narrates from her Manhattan hospital bed after a ruptured appendix leaves her mysteriously ill for weeks.