Friday, January 15, 2016

My Name is Lucy Barton; Elizabeth Strout

My Name is Lucy Barton; Elizabeth Strout
Random House - 2016

My Name is Lucy Barton was a quiet but haunting story about sad childhoods and imperfect love.

As a child Lucy and her two siblings grew up in Amgash, Illinois, a small rural town.  For a while the family lived in an uncle's unheated garage with no running water and not much food. Lucy's mother was cold and distant and her father's mental state was deeply affected by what he experienced serving in WWII. The violent outburst that Lucy and her siblings witnessed and how the children were treated affected each of them in different ways.  While Lucy was able to leave her home on a college scholarship, her mother and siblings weren't as lucky.

We learn about Lucy's story years later when she is married with two daughters of her own, and is writing her own life story.  Lucy recalls an earlier time when she was hospitalized in NYC for nine weeks for a mysterious infection following an appendectomy.  A lonely time, her husband who disliked hospitals rarely visited, instead he called Lucy's mother and asks her to come to NY to visit.  Even though Lucy had been estranged from her family, her mother makes the trip to NYC and spends five days in her daughter's room.  It is through these mother-daughter conversations and the triggering of Lucy's memories that the readers learns about the secrets of the past.

Quotes
  • "I have said before: It interests me how we find ways to feel superior to another person, another group of people.  It happens everywhere, and all the time. Whatever we call it, I think it's the lowest part of who we are, this need to find someone else to put down."
  • "How do you even know what you look like if the only mirror in the house is a tiny one high above the kitchen sink, or if you never heard a living soul say that you are pretty, but rather, as your breasts develop, you are told by your mother that you are starting to look like one of the cows in the Pedersons' barn?"
  • "I have no idea if she kissed me goodbye, but I cannot think she would have.  I have no memory of my mother ever kissing me.  She may have kissed me though; I may be wrong.
  • "Do I understand the hurt my children feel?  I think I do, though they might claim otherwise.  But I think I know so well the pain we children clutch to our chests, how it lasts our whole lifetime, with longings so large you can't even weep.  We hold it tight, we do, with each seizure of the beating heart: This is mine, this is mine, this is mine."

I loved this quiet, thought-provoking novel; the writing is beautiful.  It made me want to go out and hug my adult children and let them know, once again,  just how much they are loved.  Be sure to read it.

5/5 stars
(audio & eGalley)

39 comments:

  1. Oh, me too!!!! On the 5 stars and the quotes. This one really got to me (and its gorgeous writing) and I'll be posting a mini review next week.

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    1. Can't wait to read your thoughts. Loved the writing and as you can read in this post, many of the quotes really got to me.

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  2. To be honest, I was a little intimidated to write this - I thought Strout's writing might be too smart for me. I trust your reviews and think we have similar taste so I'm adding this to my wish list now.

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    1. Kathy, please try this one, it's very readable and such a beautiful novel.

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  3. Already checked on it at my library but it is too new to ask for a hold. I am so happy with the books you review, I don't want to miss it. I'll keep trying.

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    1. Glad my review made you want to read this one Peggy.

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  4. I have this on my 'ToRead' list. Thanks for sharing such a great review.

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  6. I've seen this book about and have heard a lot of good things about it - it's on my wishlist.

    Reading With Jade

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    1. Jade, I'm hoping you will love it as much as I did.

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  7. Impressive 5/5 and it sounds great!

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  8. I will keep my eye out for this book. She always writes thought provoking novels.

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  9. I really must read this one! I have it on my wish list. Thank you for your great review, Diane.

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  10. I have not read any of Strout's books though I have her Olive Kitteridge book at home. I need to make time for it.

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    1. Oh no, you must remedy that - she's quite talented.

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  11. I really liked Olive Kitteridge, so I would love to give this one a try. It sounds beautiful.

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  12. Diane, this sounds like my kind of book, too. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. I will keep this one in mind.

    Enjoy your weekend! If you have time, please stop by my blog. I posted a fun and easy recipe. :)

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  13. It sounds beautiful, bit probably too slow paced for me right now. I'll keep it in mind for later though!

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    1. Oh yes, no action here but, it is a short, beautiful story.

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  14. I definitely want to read this! I loved one of Strout's earlier novels, Amy and Isabelle, and have been meaning to read more from her ever since.

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    1. I haven't tried Amy & Isabella - I need to as I loved Olive K.

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  15. I read this book yesterday (it's a thin book). I agree with everything you wrote. A must read for all!

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  16. With a 5 star rating, how can I not read this?! My first inclination is to listen to the audio, but if there are a lot of great quotes/passages, I may just have to get the book. Oh, dear. There goes my resolution to read from my stacks... :)

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    1. I started audio (it's good) but switched to print because of so many beautiful passages.

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  17. So happy to hear this book is a winner! I have this on my Kindle and can't wait to read it.

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  18. A solid 5-star read for me, too, Diane! Love the quotes you've selected....Strout is one of my favorite authors.

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    1. I know u will be reading this one then; so so good. I'm devious of your warm FL temps - snowstorm coming this weekend - our first.

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  19. I'm so glad you liked this book. I really like Ms. Strout's books and I've been looking forward to this one. There are still a few people ahead of me on the library request list, but I hope to get it soon.

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  20. I LOVED this book so much!! It was just such a fantastic read. So quiet, but so powerful. Great post!!

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  21. I won't miss a Elizabeth Strout book! I plan to read this soon. Thanks for high recommendation.

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