My Name Is Lucy Barton

My Name Is Lucy Barton

A Novel

Book - 2016
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER *  A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, including Olive Kitteridge and The 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.

Praise for My Name Is Lucy Barton

"There is not a scintilla of sentimentality in this exquisite novel. Instead, in its careful words and vibrating silences, My Name Is Lucy Barton offers us a rare wealth of emotion, from darkest suffering to--'I was so happy. Oh, I was happy'--simple joy." --Claire Messud, The New York Times Book Review

"Spectacular . . . Smart and cagey in every way. It is both a book of withholdings and a book of great openness and wisdom. . . . [Strout] is in supreme and magnificent command of this novel at all times." --Lily King, The Washington Post
 
"A short novel about love, particularly the complicated love between mothers and daughters, but also simpler, more sudden bonds . . . It evokes these connections in a style so spare, so pure and so profound the book almost seems to be a kind of scripture or sutra, if a very down-to-earth and unpretentious one." --Marion Winik, Newsday
 
"Potent with distilled emotion. Without a hint of self-pity, Strout captures the ache of loneliness we all feel sometimes." -- Time

"An aching, illuminating look at mother-daughter devotion." -- People

"A quiet, sublimely merciful contemporary novel about love, yearning, and resilience in a family damaged beyond words." -- The Boston Globe

"Sensitive, deceptively simple . . . It is Lucy's gentle honesty, complex relationship with her husband, and nuanced response to her mother's shortcomings that make this novel so subtly powerful. . . . [It's] more complex than it first appears, and all the more emotionally persuasive for it." -- San Francisco Chronicle

"Strout maps the complex terrain of human relationships by focusing on that which is often unspoken and only implied. . . . A powerful addition to Strout's body of work." -- The Seattle Times

"Impressionistic and haunting . . . [Strout] reminds us of the power of our stories--and our ability to transcend our troubled narratives." -- Miami Herald

"Writing of this quality comes from a commitment to listening, from a perfect attunement to the human condition, from an attention to reality so exact that it goes beyond a skill and becomes a virtue." --Hilary Mantel

"Magnificent." --Ann Patchett
Publisher: New York :, Random House,, [2016]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781400067695
1400067693
Characteristics: 193 pages

Opinion

From Library Staff

Beautifully understated novel explores the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship.


From the critics


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kmscows Jul 27, 2017

I read "My Name Is Lucy Barton" by Elizabeth Strout in 2016 when it first came out. I sped right through it, as it is a short book that draws you into the story of Lucy, her childhood and adult life. I recently reread it because I read Strout's new book, "Anything Is Possible" and Lucy Barton reappears in this book. Reading it a second time did not disappoint me. Strout does an amazing job developing Lucy's character. Her description of Lucy's childhood home and of he stay at the hospital paint a very vivid picture for the reader; it is as if you are sitting in the room as Lucy and her mother share memories and stories with each other. These conversations show us the complexity of relationships, especially the one between mothers and daughters. A thoughtful, compelling read.

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shareads
Jul 17, 2017

This book is easy to relate to and the interest factor sky rockets. I just don't like the tone of the book. It comes off as sorrowful and melancholy although I liked the book very much.

m
maggiepcurtis
Jun 14, 2017

Didn't know where this book was going while I was reading. Plus, it never really gave us any type of closure on things. It was very blah. But it was a quick read.

j
jeanie123
Apr 12, 2017

A very enjoyable book and very well written. It's like sitting down to have a long conversation with a friend you've just met. The imperfectness of people and experiences makes us who we are and in the end it's up to us to fulfill our own needs.

robertafsmith Mar 21, 2017

One of those "small but almost perfect" books. It reminded me of Vivien Gornick in it's love of Manhattan. Lucy can see part of the city from her hospital bed, where she is having a disjointed, but revealing conversation with her dysfunctional mother. I read it when I was on Sick Leave. It is not a Sick Leave book in my opinion. Staff Pickles.

h
heidijoemonty
Mar 16, 2017

I think the meaning of this book was lost on me, perhaps I missed the point. I don't feel like she got the closure on her childhood that she so seemingly wanted. I give it a solid "meh."

j
jr3083
Jan 31, 2017

Lucy Barton lies in a New York hospital bed, seriously ill, watching the lights in the Chrysler Building. Complications have set in after an appendectomy and she is frightened and desperately missing her two young daughters. Her husband has called her mother to come, and she has. She is sitting beside the bed, not sleeping.

The two women have been estranged for years and the mother keeps the conversation light, circling between anecdotes about shared acquaintances from the past. This is a conversation where the important things are left unsaid, as they always have been....

The narrative is simply told in retrospect, after Lucy – a published and accomplished writer- has recovered from her illness and moved on to another phase of her life. Despite its 200 plus pages, the layout of the text provides a much shorter text, in brief chapters and surrounded by much blank paper. It is more novella than novel and it evokes the author’s earlier Olive Kitteridge in its knife-sharp approach to relationships. I’m bemused by reviews that focus on the love between mother and daughter. I find it far more unsettling and much darker than that.

For my full review see: https://residentjudge.wordpress.com/2017/01/31/my-name-is-lucy-barton-by-elizabeth-strout/

f
finn75
Jan 15, 2017

Wonderful yet bleak stories from a childhood revisited. How do we become who we are?

n
njon38
Dec 30, 2016

At 191 pages it is perfect for a book group. Lucy Barton's estranged mother comes to keep her company while she is in hospital with strange illness. It reminded me of a fictional "Glass Castle". Without a scintilla of sentimentality she lets us see a hard scrabble childhood and family ties that create both misery and solace.

a
AL_ELENARI
Dec 15, 2016

Lucy wakes up in a hospital room to discover that she is with her mother whom she has not seen for many years. Lucy wants to start with a clean slate and forget her tortured childhood but her relationship with her mother is tense at best. They try to find some middle ground by reminiscing about old times, friends, and family. This is a touching story about the love, understanding and relationship between a mother and daughter.

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JanPruatt
Jul 27, 2016

There was a time and it was many years ago now when I had to stay in a hospital for almost nine weeks.

Sonjahv May 20, 2016

"I felt the cold-hot shock that comes from being struck without warning; my husband was an only child, and my mother had told me long before that such a "condition" as she put it, could only lead to selfishness in the end."

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JanPruatt
Jul 27, 2016

From a simple hospital visit comes a tender story about a relationship between one daughter and her mother.

Lucy is slowly recovering from surgery. Her mother, with whom she hasn’t spoken in many years, appears at her bedside. Over the course of five days, the two exchange gossip from the past. These stories seem to reconnect them. Below the surface though lies tension that governed Lucy’s life and caused her to escape her troubled family, helped her become a writer, divorce her husband and define her love of two daughters. Strout tugs at our heartstrings as Lucy’s life unfolds because we, too, can identify with incidents similar to our lives. Short and bitter-sweet.

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