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My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
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My Name Is Lucy Barton (2016)

by Elizabeth Strout

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2,1402004,571 (3.71)299
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Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
This read more like sketches for a novel than the novel itself. I whizzed through it in an afternoon and rather than being wowed by what was left unsaid, I was a little unsatisfied. It's pared back to the bone and I was in the mood for something meatier. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
A deeply thought provoking book, “My Name is Lucy Barton”, by Elizabeth Strout, has left me pondering what is missing as much as what I read. I read this book sparse book in a single day, and enjoyed it as I read it. It challenged me more in thinking of it after. The book is less a narrative and more of a character study told in the first person. Much of the book centers around an extended hospital stay in which Lucy Barton’s estranged mother visits and they share a moment of reconciliation. The difficult part, for me, is how much of the narrative is untold, barely implied. The narrator picks and chooses what is important for her, and intentionally leaves the reader in the dark about the “juicy” details. While it was unique and and interesting thought experiment (particularly when she skips details of child abuse, poverty, marriage distinction- the ugly bits that often attract us), it left me ultimately feeling unsatisfied. Perhaps that is the point? ( )
  pdill8 | Mar 12, 2019 |
Great! ( )
  KellyFordon | Mar 6, 2019 |
Elizabeth Strout has the ability to write fiction that makes you believe the characters really exist.
While in the hospital, Lucy has a surprise visit from her mother. She tries to reconcile her life growing up with memories her mother would rather forget. ( )
  readingfiend | Feb 2, 2019 |
The novel is about a writer, the titular Lucy Barton, as she reminisces about her time in a hospital where her hitherto estranged mother came to visit her. From there, it snowballs into her childhood, her present life and past experiences. Reading this novel is like reading a private journal of someone or maybe listening to a friend share her history and what made her who she is. There are disconnected scenes from her life and the narrative jumps between present, past and future. The story sometimes feels intimate, you feel that the narrator is confiding in you something personal that she has never shared with anyone... until you realize that there are allusions to certain things but they are not spelled out clearly, for example was she abused by her father or not? By the end, you realize that even though Lucy does shares her life, she hides most of it; that, there is a certain closeness she creates with the reader, but she maintains a distance too... which describes her relationship with her mother as well. Her mother's coming to visit her, addressing her by her pet name, her mere voice soothes Lucy but you soon realize that they are pretty distant with each other. The interactions between the mother and Lucy are proof of that. They do talk but their conversations are highly superficial; they discuss about acquaintances and their unhappy marriages (which could be a hint at the mother and daughter's own unhappy ones) but never about the life that they had shared together, about each other, about their immediate families, about anything that might be important. Apart from her mother and childhood, Lucy also talks about the people who had an impact on her life like the Jewish doctor, or the people who shaped her writing life, such as her friend Jeremy and Sarah Payne. Lucy ends her narrative with a hopeful, 'all life amazes me' and that's how you feel after reading about her life... amazement.

( )
  Megha17 | Jan 17, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
I was in Lucy Barton’s head from the very first page.

It’s rare when this happens – when the words of a book hypnotize you. The experience doesn’t feel like reading at all. It’s like falling into someone else’s consciousness...Strout’s skill in channelling Lucy’s voice is breathtaking, especially considering it’s the first time the bestselling author of Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys has written a novel in the first person....This ability to love life, to notice small kindnesses, to remember the light in the sky and across the fields rather than the horrors of her childhood home, is Lucy’s salvation.

It is what we allow ourselves to see that helps us survive.
 
My Name Is Lucy Barton confirms Strout as a powerful storyteller immersed in the nuances of human relationships, weaving family tapestries with compassion, wisdom and insight. If she hadn’t already won the Pulitzer for Olive Kitteridge, this new novel would surely be a contender.
 
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Dedication
For my friend Kathy Chamberlain
First words
There was a time, and it was many years ago now, when I had to stay in a hospital for almost nine weeks.
Quotations
Whatever we call it, I think it's the lowest part of who we are, this need to find someone else to put down.
Sarah Payne, the day she told us to go to the page without judgement, reminded us that we never knew, and never would know, what it would be like to understand another person fully.
"You will have only one story," she had said. "You'll write your story many ways. Don't ever worry about story. You have only one."
I feel that people may not understand that my mother could never say the words I love you.  I feel that people may not understand: It was all right.
Telling a lie and wasting food were always things to be punished for.
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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.… (more)

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