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 lies 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.
“Lonely was the first flavor I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden inside the crevices of my mouth, reminding me.” Elizabeth Strout, My Name is Lucy
Short novels have to capture the reader’s attention quickly; My Name is Lucy Barton, does just that. The book is slim in size (209 pages), but do not be fooled. The novel is filled with beautiful, compelling, and poignant writing. Strout is a remarkable writer and it is no surprise she has received so many prestigious awards, to include the Pulitzer for Olive Kitteridge (on my TBR list). My Name is Lucy Barton demonstrates how family relationships and its dynamics can be extremely complex and confusing. Lucy along with her older siblings had a crappy and difficult upbringing. They endured poverty, humiliation, deprivation, and abuse. So yes, Lucy’s childhood was no fairy tale, but despite this, as an adult she is able to maintain a (damn good) positive outlook along the way. Essentially, bad things happen to people all the time, but in the end it is up to each individual to pick up the pieces and lead a benevolent life and one they are proud of. This book is not for everyone, but if you have endured painful hardships in your life, you will find bits of yourself in Lucy (I did).