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Booker Longlist: Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

Book 5 – reviewed by panelists Book Worm, Anita, Tracy and rated by Jen and Nicole

Before writing, Elizabeth Strout had a brief career in the law. She didn’t tell people about her ambition to become an author ‘Because they look at you with such looks of pity. I just couldn’t stand that.’

Synopsis from Booker Prize website:

Bestselling author Elizabeth Strout 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 time.

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 longtime, 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.

BookWorm’s Thoughts: Not a lot actually happens in this novel and there are very few characters what Strout does give us however is a brilliant insight into the human psyche.

I loved Lucy Barton as a character and that is important when you spend so long in someone’s head. I found her fully developed, full of flaws and self-doubt but also brave and self-assured. That might sound contradictory but isn’t that what humans are?

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 15/20

Tracy’s Thoughts: Elizabeth Strout is a go-to author for me- especially if the book is about Olive. I love Olive K. I like Lucy and her books, just not quite as much. 

Still, this was a good example of Strout’s writing, and she’s not slowing down anytime soon. Thankfully, for those who are new to her, Oh William can stand alone. 

Strout is a master of plot and character development, though it still feels like a lazy Sunday read. She has repeated characters here, and there’s not a lot of original material, but it was nice to catch up with an old friend. 

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 2/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot: 4/4
Enjoyment: 1.5/2
Total: 15.5/20

Anita’s Thoughts:  I am not even remotely impartial when it comes to this author. I love everything I’ve read by her and will continue to run out and buy everything she writes. Strout has a way of getting at life’s truths with simplicity. Her mastery of the telling details is beyond. As with previous books, there won’t be enough plot for some readers’ taste. I get it. But Strout unveils interpersonal relationships with a mastery that’s subtle. While this book is not the best example of Strout’s talents, she continues to tell quiet stories that illuminate the challenges and rewards of family dynamics.

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 17/20

Ratings:

Jen’s ratings:

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 2/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 2/4
Overall enjoyment: 1.5/2
Total: 14.5/20

Nicole’s ratings:  

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 2/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 16/20 (I enjoyed this far more than this rating suggests – 5 star read for me in a normal rating, but plot and originality brought the score down)

Ranking

The Colony 18.8

The Trees 16.4

Oh William 15.6

Small Things Like These 15.3

Booth 13.7

Have you read it?  What do you think?

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