Oh, Whilliam! and the Amgash Series by Elizabeth Strout

Oh, Lucy!! I love her so much!! She is one of my favorite people, I mean characters!!

Oh William! has received a bit of buzz. It is a Booker Prize Nominee for Shortlist (2022) and has been on a few best book lists for 2021. It really is that good!

I am still trying to figure out what I could say about it that has yet to be said or why it is so good! But I am going to add my two cents anyways

My two cents about it and the other books in the Amgash series

What makes Lucy Barton special

Strout writes in a quiet conversational voice as Lucy shares her fears, insecurities, joys, memories and revelations with us. It’s difficult to capture every day chatting without it awkwardly flowing or sounding busy. Strout nails it with Lucy. She catches a quiet tone to Lucy’s voice and thoughts. All I wanted to do was curl up on the couch with a glass of wine, listen to Lucy, think about the things she said, and silently add my thoughts to the conversation.

Lucy is relatable, deeply human, and easy to connect with. She is keenly observant and refreshingly honest with her feelings about the world around her, but far from perfect and reflects the human side of people, the side people often hide. She is anxious, crabby, vulnerable and quietly engages in harmless gossip and judgment.

Themes explored in the series: Memories  marriage, aging and loneliness. Quietly explores class, being invisible in a loud world

My Name is Lucy Barton: Book 1 in the Amgash series

The story explores family trauma, memories, and coming to terms with the past.

Lucy, a successful author, living in New York City, falls ill and is hospitalized. Her Mother, who she hasn’t spoken to in years, comes to stay with her. To fill in some awkward moments between them, they start to connect over harmlessly gossip about Lucy’s childhood in Amqash, Illinois, where they lived in “terribly bleak poverty.”

What I loved

How memories are explored, as Lucy honestly recalls them. She is upfront with us about not being sure if she remembers things as they happened, making her a reliable narrator. That’s the fascinating thing about memories; they are not always straightforward, and we can’t always be sure we remember things as they really happened.

The quiet conversations Lucy and her Mother had and how some things were said between them and others were left unsaid for me to speculate on what they were saying to each.

Lucy’s ability to find kindness, her understanding of people, her compassion, and how she could see the light through all the hurt and darkness of her childhood.

Published in January 2016 by Random House / Read in April 2017

Source: Library

2016 Booker Prize Nominee for Longlist and Women’s Prize for Fiction Nominee for Longlist.

Anything Is Possible: Book 2

The story explores loneliness, disappointments, trauma, and class prejudice.

Anything Is Possible takes us to Lucy’s hometown Amgash, Illinois, as we learn about her hometown, her siblings, and the people who live there. In a collection of short stories, we see a darker side to the gossip between Lucy and her Mother in My Name is Lucy Barton.

What I loved

Strout’s ability to show us that beneath bad behavior is often vulnerabilities.

Under all the bad behavior, sadness and ugliness, we are reminded that with kindness and compassion, anything is possible.

What I didn’t love as much

Anything Possible feels less quiet and felt busier than My Name in Barton.

Published in April 2017 by Random House/ read in May 2017

Source: Overdrive

Oh William! Book 3

“Oh William!” picks up a decade after “My Name Is Lucy Barton.”

Themes: aging and marriage, family secrets, where we come from

In the present day, Lucy reflects on her marriages, the things that didn’t work for them, how she felt, what they learned, how she sees things differently, secrets, and where they came from.

What I loved

Everything I mentioned about Lucy above!!

Lucy and William’s unique friendship

Published in October 2021 by Random House /Read in Sept 2021

Source: NG and Library

Lucy by the Sea: Book 4

Themes: parenting, pandemic

Follows Lucy through the first year of the pandemic after William convinces her to leave NYC and quarantine in a rented house in Maine.

What I loved

Lucy honestly shares everyday thoughts on the pandemic: those conversations we have heard or been part of. Well, this borders on first-world problems with the reality of the impact the pandemic had. They are conversations we have listened to, been part of, and possibly have complained about ourselves.

The contrast between William, a scientist, who sees the pandemic’s dangers and risks reflecting the pandemic’s reality, and Lucy, who struggles with taking in reality. She is more focused on herself and doesn’t see the risks, reflecting the side of unawareness of the impact of the pandemic.

What I didn’t love as much

Instead of musing, Lucy rambles from topic to topic, taking away that quiet tone I love. She is all over the place and emotional adding drama to the story.

Lucy is more judgmental and shows less kindness towards others.

Published in Sept 2022 by Random House / Read in Oct 2022

Source: Overdrive

Overall: This is a series not to be missed!!

2 thoughts on “Oh, Whilliam! and the Amgash Series by Elizabeth Strout”

Comments are closed.