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.

The Booker Prize 2022
Published by
Viking, Penguin
Publication date

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Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout

About the Author

Elizabeth Strout has been nominated for the Booker Prize twice - longlisted in 2016 and shortlisted in 2022. She is the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge, as well as The Burgess Boys, a New York Times bestseller, Abide With Me and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize.
More about Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout on writing Oh William!

‘It was very moving for me to be longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2016. It feels doubly lovely now; it feels slightly different because this is the second time, and it thrills me.’

‘I often start a scene by hand and then will print it out on the computer. Yes, sometimes it comes in bursts but other times not. I seldom write anything from beginning to end; I will write in little scenes and then eventually they pull together. (Or they don’t.) The research I do depends on the book I am writing. For Oh William! my husband and I took the exact trip that William and Lucy end up taking to northern Maine so that I could see it all through Lucy’s eyes. And I had researched about the German POW’s beforehand.’

Read the full interview here.

Elizabeth Strout

What the judges said

‘No-one writes interior life as Strout does. This is meticulous observed writing, full of probing psychological insight. Lucy Barton is one of literature’s immortal characters – brittle, damaged, unravelling, vulnerable and most of all, ordinary, like us all.’

What the critics said

The New York Times Book Review

‘One proof of Strout’s greatness is the sleight of hand with which she injects sneaky subterranean power into seemingly transparent prose. Strout works in the realm of everyday speech, conjuring repetitions, gaps and awkwardness with plain language and forthright diction, yet at the same time unleashing a tidal urgency that seems to come out of nowhere even as it operates in plain sight.’

Joan Frank, The Washington Post

‘Lucy and William have two grown daughters, whose portraits are vibrantly drawn. Somewhat less visible is William’s daughter with his current wife, Estelle. But for all their dimension and drama (a miscarriage, sulks, confrontations) these daughters – and even Lucy’s expired husband – seem to function more as elements of a palpable backdrop against which Lucy and William may seek and repel each other, like magnets with reversing currents.’

Annabel Gutterman and Arianna Rebolini, Time

‘At the core of … Strout’s best-selling fiction are characters grappling with huge questions about love, loss and family through seemingly ordinary moments. The domestic dramas that fill her books lead to startling revelations about the complexities that accompany marriage, parenthood and growing old. Her new novel is no exception.’

Connie Ogle, The Star Tribune

‘Upon learning that Lucy and William take a road trip to Maine to confront the revelations, you may be tempted to cringe, but in Strout’s hands the journey never feels trite. Instead, she invests us deeply in Lucy’s epiphany: Even though we are fueled by presumptions and believe what we want to believe, the truth is always within our sight.’

Laura Miller, The Guardian

‘The miraculous quality of Strout’s fiction is the way she opens up depths with the simplest of touches, and this novel ends with the assurance that the source of love lies less in understanding than in recognition – although it may take a lifetime to learn the difference.’

Oh William! By Elizabeth Strout

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Other nominated books by Elizabeth Strout

My Name Is Lucy Barton