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My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Published July 23, 2020

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Book info

  • Title My Name is Lucy Barton
  • Author Elizabeth Strout
  • Year 2016
  • Genre Contemporary

Lucy is recovering from an operation in a New York hospital when she wakes to find her estranged mother sitting by her bed. They have not seen one another in years. As they talk Lucy finds herself recalling her troubled rural childhood and how it was she eventually arrived in the big city, got married and had children. But this unexpected visit leaves her doubting the life she's made: wondering what is lost and what has yet to be found.

Thoughts

Until Oprah picked an Elizabeth Strout book as part of her book club, I hadn’t heard of the author but now I have, I’m a little bit obsessed. This was a short and just intriguing stream of consciousness from the eponymous Lucy Barton. She uses the time she was laid up in hospital for several weeks to share stories about her family, her extended family, friends, neighbours and relative strangers.

Touching on loneliness, on relationships, on sickness and health, on depression, and on relating to other humans in the world, the thoughts meander all over the place but somehow still share a coherent and fascinating life. There’s not really a story, as such, it reminds me of the time I sat in a cafe and wrote a paragraph about some of the people that came through the door.

What’s intriguing about it, too, is that there’s clearly so much more to be told. Lucy mentions her current and ex-husband several times, but you only get fleeting glimpses of what happened with both and how she has ended up where she is.

Somehow unfulfilling but also lovely, I really liked it.

Rating: 4 / 5

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