Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.
“Because we all love imperfectly.”
First off, I want to start by saying I had the privilege of meeting Elizabeth Strout a few months ago at Random House’s Open House Event. After listening to her speak about her books and writing, I can honestly say, I will be a fan for life! Mrs. Strout just seems like a genuine human being and is extremely passionate about her writing.
A few years ago, I read her book The Burgess Boys and really enjoyed it. So, it was an absolute honor to meet her in person. After listening to her speak about her latest book “My Name is Lucy Barton” I couldn’t wait to read it. (Thanks Random House for the advance copy!) She also mentioned that this book was a different writing style than her norm. She wrote this book in first person, which I have to admit is my favorite it. I feel like when you’re reading a book written in first person it’s easier for the reader to transition into that character if they want to. (I guess it really depends on what type of reader you are.)
“It interests me how we find ways to feel superior to another person, another group of people. It happens everywhere, and all the time. Whatever we call it, I think it’s the lowest part of who we are, this need to find someone else to put down.”
My name is Lucy Barton is a short book (around 200 pages), that is about a mother-daughter relationship. This book is full of emotions and can be downright heart wrenching at times. Lucy Barton is recovering from surgery and has to be in the hospital for quite some time as she heals. Unexpectedly, her long estranged mother comes to visit her for awhile during her hospital. This story is told many years after her hospitalization. During the visit her mother tells Lucy about friends from her hometown. Lucy starts to thinks back to her childhood and how imperfect her life was, how poor her family was, and how her mother treated her. She also reflects on her current life situation and how far she has come and where she headed in life. This book also shadows some friendships that she has developed as an adult.
“I kept thinking how the five of us had had a really unhealthy family, but I saw then too how our roots were twisted so tenaciously around one another’s hearts.”
Overall, I think Mrs. Strout’s goal was for readers to capture Lucy’s emotions and her plea for her mother’s acceptance. I really enjoyed this book. I just wish, it was a little longer because I absolutely wanted more.