Sunday Book: My Name is Lucy Barton - Elizabeth Strout

I've just read my first Elizabeth Strout - a slim, elegant volume called 'My Name is Lucy Barton'.  and now I'm wondering why it took me so long to discover her.  Friends have been raving about her for a long time.  But I'm resistant to hype and this year I haven't been much in the mood for reading.  I'm just beginning to find my way back into books and I think Lucy Barton was a good start.

The novel is short, weighing in at 191 well-spaced pages, and the narrative is mesmerising.  A young woman is in hospital, forced to spend time thinking back over her life, and then - unexpectedly - her mother arrives to look after her.   Little by little, as the narrator goes backwards and forwards, there are quiet revelations and epiphanies.

Lucy Barton's relationships are revealed with the honesty of an autopsy, yet you are always aware of the narrator as a person who doesn't always want to confront the truth.  Sometimes you as reader can see what was going on while the narrator is still in denial.

I loved it - I loved both its complexity and its deceptive simplicity.  This is the kind of writing that is so good it leaves you breathless - reminding me a little of Raymond Carver's minimalism, but with more emotional depth.  I will be reading Elizabeth Strout again.  Olive Kitteridge next.


  1. Elizabeth Strout is one of my all time favourite writers, Kathy. The Burgess Boys is also extraordinary,
    Ceinwen x

    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Ceinwen. She's extraordinary!

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