My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Lucy Barton is a New Yorker. She's also a writer, a mother, and wife. At one point in her life, she spends over two months in the hospital, recovering from what should have been a basic operation. Lucy had a difficult and impoverished childhood and she has a distant relationship with her parents and siblings. We learn all of this in Strout's latest novel - through Lucy's "recordings" and musings as she talks about her life and memories.
This is a lovely book. Note that it is rather short and really comes across as a series of connected and interwoven short stories, each presented as a recording, or story, from Lucy. Many originate as Lucy is in the hospital and her mother visits her for five days, telling her tales about people from their hometown.
The stories give you an interesting insight into Lucy - you're left feeling as if you know her extremely well, and yet not at all. Some of them leave you with a staggering feeling, especially short bits about her childhood. It's not a happy book, at all, but a beautiful one, if that makes any sense. It also provides an amazing look at how one's childhood can affect you and the impact of your parents on your life. (If you're looking for a book that follows a narrative thread from point A to point B, however, this one isn't for you.)
I loved Strout's "Olive Kitteridge" - it was also a lovely, touching book. I didn't think this book was a good as "Olive," but it's still poignant in its own way. I feel like pieces of it will stay with me for some time.
(Note: I received an ARC from Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.)
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