November + December 2021

Oh William!

by Elizabeth Strout

book cover

Why We Chose It

From legendary Pulitzer Prize–winning author Elizabeth Strout, a novel about the mysteries that exist in our most intimate relationships. Lucy Barton, a writer, was married to William Gerhardt, a scientist and professor, for twenty years before they divorced. They have two children. Lucy remarried once. William, three times. They have been friendly for a long time. Still, it’s a bit surprising when William asks Lucy to join him on a trip to make sense of a family secret he’s just unearthed. Will it change everything they understand about their past? Will it change who they are today? No one is better at bringing a voice alive on a page than Elizabeth Strout. We’re ending 2021 with one of the very best of the year. Start reading an excerpt here.

Oh William!

Bookshop, $25



Author Elizabeth Strout chats with goop editor Kiki Koroshetz.

About the Author

Elizabeth Strout is the number one New York Times–bestselling author of Olive Kitteridge, winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Olive, Again, an Oprah’s Book Club pick; Anything Is Possible, winner of the Story Prize; My Name Is Lucy Barton, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize; The Burgess Boys, named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post and NPR; Abide with Me, a national bestseller; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the International Dublin Literary Award, and the Orange Prize. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker and O: The Oprah Magazine. She lives in Maine.

Author photo

Photo courtesy of Leonardo Cendamo

A Q&A with Elizabeth Strout

Some of your characters reappear throughout your books. How do you know when you’re ready to revisit a character or explore another aspect of them?

Here is the truth: I never do know when I’m ready to explore an old character in a new way, until that character just shows up once more. This was true with Olive, Again. I thought I was absolutely done with Olive, but nope—she just showed up again, boom. So I knew I had to write more of her story. And similarly, with Lucy Barton, I thought I was done with her. But one day in a rehearsal with Laura Linney—who was getting ready to perform My Name Is Lucy Barton in London and then on Broadway—I watched while she murmured something about William, and she took a step, putting her glasses on top of her head, and I thought, Oh William! Just like that, his story appeared to me. Strange, but true.

When did you first want to be a writer? And when did you first think of yourself as a writer?

I first wanted to be a writer when I was very small. I have no memory of myself not wanting to be a writer. My mother gave me notebooks and told me, “Write down what you did today.” And so I would, and sentences became immediately my way of looking at the world. At the very same time, honestly, I knew that I was a writer, I knew this about myself all my life. But I learned not to tell people. If I did tell someone that I was a writer, they immediately wanted to know what I had published, and when I said, Well, nothing yet, they looked at me with a kind of pity, as though I were leaking grandiosity, so I kept my mouth shut about it after a while. My first book was not published until I was forty-three, so you can see it was quite a while that I had to be quiet about this!



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