Saturday, September 17, 2016

My Name is Lucy Barton - Review

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (Amazon)

Rating: Good
Source: Library (Audio)

Description:   A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, including Olive Kitteridge andThe Burgess Boys, have illuminated our most tender relationships. Now, in My Name Is Lucy Barton, this extraordinary writer shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all—the one between mother and daughter.

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.

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  I had seen some good reviews for this book and it's not one I'd typically pick up but since I"m trying to stretch my reading legs a little I decided to try it.

My Impression: This is one of those books that's hard to review because so it's complicated but so simple all at the same time.  The bulk of the story is told through conversation between herself and her somewhat estranged mother as Lucy is stuck in the hospital.  The conversations reminded me of those conversations that happen in cars where you end up talking much deeper subjects and being more honest and insightful than you would anywhere else.  The book itself kind of snuck up on me.  I was enjoying it well enough but didn't really love it until all of a sudden I felt like I knew Lucy.  All the little stories and monologues and bits of conversation really allowed me to feel like I knew her in a way that I don't think a traditional format would have allowed for.

It's hard to say what this is really about because it's really a nothing and everything kind of book.  It's about poverty, class levels, families both functional and dysfunctional, the mother-daughter relationship, fitting in, and realizing dreams.  In short it's the story of Lucy Barton's life and existence.

The format is a bit more stream of consciousness style than usually appeals to me and so I don't think it really clicked with me as it did with so many others.  I enjoyed it and found Lucy interesting, at times annoying and at times someone to admire.  It's a short book but much longer would have been too much and I think I would have lost focus on it.  If you're an audio book fan this is a good one.  The very subject meant that listening while doing something else kept me engaged with the book where I'm not sure how much I really would have enjoyed it if I was reading it.  Kimberly Farr did a fantastic job with the narration and really brought Lucy to life.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I would.  I like how the author drew me into the story without me even realizing it!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  I would but I think it's a book you have to be in the right mood for.  This is a good to pick up or listen to if you're in the mood for a quiet story with a memorable main character.


  1. Very true... this book is complicated and simple at the same time! Strout is one of my favorite authors, and this was a favorite novel last year, but it's a bit of a departure for her. Definitely different from her earlier novels. I agree with your recommendation.

  2. Yes - definitely complicated and simple at the same time. Which is also true of the way I felt about Lucy!

  3. This was a book that I did love and I agree with what you say. It was complicated and simple all at the same time. It totally sucked me in before I knew what happend. Great review!

  4. This sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing your review. :)

  5. A really good review, Katherine. Thank you very much for sharing.

  6. Good to extend and step out of normal reading zone - I always think about it and occasionally do it. Sounds like the audio version would enhance the experience of the book.

  7. This sounds really good. I kinda like to be in the dark a bit about a character. Great review!