Hello Reader! I hope you’ve had a great week.
This weekend promises sunshine, and I’m super excited as I’ll be going to my first ever outdoor cinema event! I’ve been planning to go to one of these for many years, in many different locations, but for one reason or another it’s never happened. This weekend however, it shall, and I’ll be enjoying my favourite Disney film, ‘The Lion King’, whilst in a camp chair, covered in a blanket, eating snacks. I cannot wait!
I’ve been trying out a whole host of different types of genres recently as I’ve been wanting to explore a little further into writers I’ve never read and books where the protagonists are older or younger than I, and perhaps even not of this world!
Recently the very kind people at Viking Books (a Penguin Publisher) very kindly sent me a paperback copy of a book I would perhaps have not have read otherwise, and I’m glad that I did.
OH WILLIAM! BY ELIZABETH STROUT
Elizabeth Strout is an award winning author, having won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and whilst I’ve not read any of her work previously, I have often seen her books in Waterstones. In actual fact, Oh William is the third book in a series about a character called Lucy Barton (‘My name is Lucy Barton’ is the first novel in this collection).
However I did not feel that I had entered the story part way through, this is very much a novel where you do not need to have read the previous works.
I found very quickly that the writing style is very quirky, very unique. I did not come across one chapter. This book is around 240 pages long, and I read it in one sitting, primarily I believe, because there are no chapters. I do feel that this may be a hinderance if you did not have the luxury I’ve been able to afford to read this book in one sitting and had to read it on the go, or god forbid, lost your bookmark!
The story follows 63 year old Lucy Barton, a novelist who has two children and who has had 2 husbands. William is the first of the husbands, some 7 years older than Lucy and now onto his third marriage, and second husband was David, who Lucy is grieving the loss of as we open the pages.
“Grief is such a – oh, it is such a solitary thing; this is the terror of it, I think. It is like sliding down the side of a really long glass building whilst nobody sees you.”
Whilst the words within this book are often beautiful and almost poetic, this is not really what I would commonly think of as a novel. I felt more like I was listening to the internal musings of Lucy Barton, or an undated diary entry. The story within the book is that of the ever evolving and changing relationship between Lucy and William, and on a trip they go on to find a secret relative of William’s he had known nothing about until now.
For the most part, this book does not follow a forward timeline. I feel as though I did not need to read the prior novel because the story spends the majority of the time retrospectively. It is immersed in going backwards; reflecting upon memories, childhood events, conversations, insults in passing, feelings in moments of time.
The story explores the ebbs and flows of Lucy and William’s relationship with each other, their age, their childhoods and their life experiences.
It is both beautiful and thought provoking, exploring the themes of fear, marriage, family secrets, infidelity, insecurities and intimacy.
One of my most favourite parts of the book is where Lucy really explores in her mind about what intimacy means. We think of intimacy as a beautiful, joyous thing between two people that know each other better than anyone else – we understand our partner’s look and body language without them having to say a word. Lucy explores in her musings as to why this can be overly consuming and polluting as our thoughts and feelings are forever shared with that person, and we also know theirs – and I thought that this was really interesting to think about.
“You could not be free living like that, not ever. Intimacy became a ghastly thing.”
CAN’T PUT IT DOWN RATING: 3.5/5
I read this book in one sitting, which with times to eat scones, drink tea and feed the birds in the garden, was around 3 hours. It is a book that managed to maintain and keep my attention throughout, but I dont feel that this book will be for everybody.
If you are a reader that requires a storyline, a solid and intriguing plot and lots of twists and turns, this one is unlikely to be for you.
However if you are interested in characters, in exploring the thoughts and feelings of a person impacted by the dynamics of marriages, relationships, friendships, families and deep rooted secrets – and if you dont mind a first person recollection shifting backwards and forwards in time – this may be one to try.
Whilst I don’t think I would read another Elizabeth Strout (I do prefer a story with more of a plot), I could see this being easily transformed into a film, and I also feel like the writing was truly immersive and delicious.
It gave a great fictional insight into marriages between two people who get each other, who know each other, who understand one another – but who just dont work as a couple together.
RRP: £8.99, Penguin Publishers
Washed down with:
Twinings Everyday Tea.
I have a tea chest full of tea (some sachets may have been complimentary Hotel selections ;))! and one of the many tea sachets I have collected that reside in there, is Twinings Everyday Tea. I absolutely this tea as an affordable easy to grab brew, as its available from most supermarkets and isn’t too expensive.
It has a beautiful punch to it that has some subtle hints of an earl grey, but I truly love the depth of it. I’m a builder’s brew tea drinker and I love the strength of it which can be achieved with just a couple of moments brewing. Available from all good supermarkets, and hotel rooms :D. I also must say that I prefer the individual sachets to the boxes of tea you can find. I really genuinely feel it tastes different!
I hope you’ve really enjoyed reading my book and tea review!
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Otherwise, I hope you have a fantastic weekend, and I look forward to seeing you again soon!
Until the next Chapter,