#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the tender relationship between mother and daughter in this extraordinary novel by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys.
Soon to be a Broadway play starring Laura Linney produced by Manhattan Theatre Club and London Theatre Company • LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • The New York Times Book Review • NPR • BookPage • LibraryReads • Minneapolis Star Tribune • St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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
“A quiet, sublimely merciful contemporary novel about love, yearning, and resilience in a family damaged beyond words.”—The Boston Globe
“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.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“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.”—Newsday
“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
“An aching, illuminating look at mother-daughter devotion.”—People
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
It’s rare that a book hits the heart’s bullseye like this. Elizabeth Strout, the author of Olive Kitteridge, has written a short and brilliant novel that explores an idea central to much great art: “we never knew, and never would know, what it would be like to understand another person fully.” And yet by the time you finish reading My Name is Lucy Barton, you feel like you’ve made a precious new friend. In a warm, confessional tone, Strout’s protagonist shares snapshots of her harrowing rural childhood and her nine-week stay in a Manhattan hospital during the height of the AIDS epidemic. We have tears in our eyes thinking about Lucy’s journey to learn how to love herself and those around her.
Despite its slim length, Strout's (The Burgess Boys) tender and moving novel should be read slowly, to savor the depths beneath what at first seems a simple story of a mother-daughter reconciliation. Lucy Barton is shocked when her mother, from whom she's been estranged for years, flies from tiny Amgash, Ill., to be at Lucy's hospital bedside in New York. Convalescing from a postsurgery infection, Lucy is tentative about making conversation, gently inquiring about people back home while avoiding the real reason why there's been no contact with her parents. Strout develops the story in short chapters in which the reader intuits the emotional complexity of Lucy's life as she reveals long-buried memories of an isolated, profoundly impoverished childhood and the sexual secrets, "the knowledge of darkness," that shrouded her life. Though her mother calls her Wizzle, an endearing childhood name that implies warmth and closeness, she is unable to tell Lucy that she loves her. Running counter to the memories of her harsh, stoic upbringing is Lucy's anguish at missing her own two daughters, waiting for her at home. Lucy also reflects on other cruelties of life in New York City, specifically the scourge of AIDS (the setting is the 1980s) and the underlying troubles of her marriage. Her narrative voice is restrained yet expressive. This masterly novel's message, made clear in the moving denouement, is that sometimes in order to express love, one has to forgive.
The book wasn’t as good as her others, which I adored. It is disjointed and hard to follow. It was just words without the intense insight. It is an easy read but not the kind of book you need to read to finish.
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My Name is Lucy Barton
A rags to riches story of sorts, beginning with childhood psychological abuse, physical abuse, parental abandonment, being shamed and bullied to two marriages, two daughters and a divorce. Lucy is a broken adult; yet more intelligent, loving and lovable than she knows.