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Lucy by the Sea (2022)

by Elizabeth Strout

Series: Lucy Barton (4)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5414439,202 (4.09)40
From Pulitzer Prize-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Strout comes a poignant, pitch-perfect novel about a divorced couple stuck together during lockdown--and the love, loss, despair, and hope that animate us even as the world seems to be falling apart. "No novelist working today has Strout's extraordinary capacity for radical empathy. . . . May droves of readers come to feel enlarged, comforted, and genuinely uplifted by Lucy's story."--The Boston Globe With her trademark spare, crystalline prose--a voice infused with "intimate, fragile, desperate humanness" (The Washington Post)--Elizabeth Strout turns her exquisitely tuned eye to the inner workings of the human heart, following the indomitable heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton through the early days of the pandemic. As a panicked world goes into lockdown, Lucy Barton is uprooted from her life in Manhattan and bundled away to a small town in Maine by her ex-husband and on-again, off-again friend, William. For the next several months, it's just Lucy, William, and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the moody, swirling sea. Rich with empathy and emotion, Lucy by the Sea vividly captures the fear and struggles that come with isolation, as well as the hope, peace, and possibilities that those long, quiet days can inspire. At the heart of this story are the deep human connections that unite us even when we're apart--the pain of a beloved daughter's suffering, the emptiness that comes from the death of a loved one, the promise of a new friendship, and the comfort of an old, enduring love.… (more)
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» See also 40 mentions

English (43)  German (1)  All languages (44)
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
Beautiful story about Lucy Barton. Elegant and compact writing that perfectly conveys the story. ( )
  Doondeck | Jan 23, 2023 |
Lucy in the Pandemic
Review of the Random House Kindle eBook, released simultaneously with the original Random House hardcover (September 20, 2022)

When I first heard about the pandemic storyline to Lucy by the Sea, I'll admit that I wasn't that keen to read it. The eerie and often terrifying early months of the COVID era were not something that I felt like re-experiencing in fiction. This is even though I've been a fan of Elizabeth Strout from My Name is Lucy Barton (2016) onwards, which was the first book of her Amgash/Lucy series.
When I saw Lucy by the Sea as the Kindle Deal of the Day for $2.99 on December 31, 2022 though, I did snap it up immediately.

See photograph at https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/e4199023522fd15b7ae0ca1518a555ab5d0101ad/0_144_52...
Illustration for The Guardian's review of Lucy by the Sea. Image sourced from The Guardian, September 29, 2022.

This is very much a followup to Oh William, #3 in the Amgash series. Lucy's ex-husband William Gerhardt takes steps to rescue them from the pandemic in New York City by renting a somewhat remote house on the coastline of Maine. Although William insists that he is doing it for the altruistic reason of saving Lucy's life, there may be some more selfish reasons as well. These become clear as the novel progresses.

Moving the action to Maine also allows Strout to bring in other characters from her fictional universe. Bob Burgess (from The Burgess Boys (2013) is also a main character as he helps Lucy and William acclimatize (Jim Burgess is mentioned in passing). We also get a remote update on Olive Kitteridge (from Olive Kitteridge (2008) & Olive, Again (2019)) when Lucy befriends a worker from the senior living facility where Olive is now a resident (and still cranky as ever).

So even though I wasn't enthralled by revisiting the early COVID months, this was still a dramatic and engrossing read with Lucy's compassionate and perceptive observations of her family and new acquaintances. What felt a bit off was that writer Lucy (whom I think of as Strout's proxy) didn't do any writing or reading in the early months (she does begin a story in the latter half). Like William, I started reading everything I could get my hands on. The pandemic also started my reviewing surge in Goodreads as well (about 1000 reviews in the past 3 years), so bizarrely I am indebted to it for at least one good reason. ( )
  alanteder | Jan 14, 2023 |
Lucy By The Sea left me with mixed feelings. Elizabeth Strout is a master at characterisation and the story is simply written and evokes the turmoil and conflict on the lives of Lucy and her family as the Covid pandemic changes their lives. Lucy passive and confused by events allowing her exhusband William to make decisions regarding their wellbeing and those of their daughters. The line "We are only doing what we can to get through" resonated with me and probably I could see a little of myself in Lucy (unfortunately) I didn't love her, but it is a good book. ( )
  PriscillaM | Jan 11, 2023 |
Wow, another terrific Elizabeth Strout book! Really captured the pandemic. And, oh yeah, she also captures a lot of what it means to be human. ( )
  steve02476 | Jan 3, 2023 |
The book we were to read and discuss. I’m glad I read all three, but doing so has taken up a great deal of time. Not sure I can keep this up. I enjoyed the read but hardly remember what happened already. At times, reading about the pandemic cut quite close, and it was odd to hear explanations like “they taped marks on the sidewalk for distancing”. Doesn’t everyone know that? Was that included for posterity? Anyway, odd. The ending feels like there’s another book in the works. ( )
  KymmAC | Dec 29, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
The disarming situation described at the opening of Elizabeth Strout’s new novel might seem fantastical, the stuff of a million post-apocalyptic movies, were it not for the fact that every single one of us has recently lived through it. And lockdown especially. Strout isn’t the first writer to go there, but she certainly makes magnificent and thrilling use of it in this, her most nuanced – and intensely moving – Lucy Barton novel yet
added by bergs47 | editThe Guardian, Julie Myerson (Oct 2, 2022)
 

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For my husband, Jim Tierney

And for my son-in-law, Will Flynt

With love and admiration for them both—-
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Like many others, I did not see it coming.
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Who knows why people are different? We are born with a certain nature, I think. And then the world takes its swings at us.
It is a gift in this life that we do not know what awaits us.
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From Pulitzer Prize-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Strout comes a poignant, pitch-perfect novel about a divorced couple stuck together during lockdown--and the love, loss, despair, and hope that animate us even as the world seems to be falling apart. "No novelist working today has Strout's extraordinary capacity for radical empathy. . . . May droves of readers come to feel enlarged, comforted, and genuinely uplifted by Lucy's story."--The Boston Globe With her trademark spare, crystalline prose--a voice infused with "intimate, fragile, desperate humanness" (The Washington Post)--Elizabeth Strout turns her exquisitely tuned eye to the inner workings of the human heart, following the indomitable heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton through the early days of the pandemic. As a panicked world goes into lockdown, Lucy Barton is uprooted from her life in Manhattan and bundled away to a small town in Maine by her ex-husband and on-again, off-again friend, William. For the next several months, it's just Lucy, William, and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the moody, swirling sea. Rich with empathy and emotion, Lucy by the Sea vividly captures the fear and struggles that come with isolation, as well as the hope, peace, and possibilities that those long, quiet days can inspire. At the heart of this story are the deep human connections that unite us even when we're apart--the pain of a beloved daughter's suffering, the emptiness that comes from the death of a loved one, the promise of a new friendship, and the comfort of an old, enduring love.

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