My Name Is Lucy Barton

  • by Elizabeth Strout
  • Narrated by Kimberly Farr
  • 4 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her best-selling novels, including Olive Kitteridge andThe 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.

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What the Critics Say

"This story of family, poverty, aspirations, and obstacles is immediately gripping, thanks to the combination of Strout's high-quality prose and Kimberly Farr's nearly flawless performance." (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Because we all love imperfectly.

A character in My Name is Lucy Barton says "I like writers who try to tell you something truthful," and Elizabeth Strout has done just that. This book feels almost like the reader is being told a once-upon-a-time recounting of Lucy's life and relationships, in a personal, intimate conversation with her. It begins to feel like we are sitting at Lucy's bedside, along with her mother, as she recovers in the hospital. This experience is heightened by listening to the audiobook, with the excellent narration by Kimberly Farr.

“I write because I want the reader to read the book when they may need it,” Strout wrote in an email. “For example, when I first read ‘Mrs. Dalloway,’ I thought: ‘Wow, I really need this book!’ So I always hope that a reader will find the book when they need it, even if they didn’t know they needed it.”

And I did. I felt like Elizabeth Strout, through Lucy Barton, articulated and explained things I knew but couldn't express myself. The complexity of familial love, how things we wish we could hear from our loved ones just may not be possible for them to say, how we all love imperfectly, how we are all products of our background and experiences. I loved Olive Kitteridge, and My Name is Lucy Barton is even better.
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- Bonny "Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist."

What a Disappointment

Elizabeth Strout wrote one of my favorite novels, the passionate and amazing Amy and Isabelle. I was looking forward to this book, which touches on some of the same mother/daughter themes. Maybe it would contain some of the vivid intensity of her first book. No such luck.

The narrative revolves around Lucy's stay in a hospital and a visit from her mother, who she hasn't seen or been in touch with for 15 years. Memories are sparked, old friends and neighbors discussed. What's most important is NOT discussed--the poverty of Lucy's background, the hinted at abuse, her mother's emotional blocks, and Lucy's anger about her upbringing. Still, there is a slight thaw in mother/daughter relations.

Strout is admirably restrained, but everything feels third-hand. Stories from the past, flashbacks inside of flashbacks. Although the narrator proclaims near the end that this is HER story, the main character remains elusive and unknowable. She's a writer and at one point is recognized by a neighbor as such, but why? She rarely utters interesting opinions, clever observations, or worthwhile insights. She seems a blank slate. No personality emerges, unless you count the boilerplate longings for love from her mother. Pretty generic stuff. There's no humor, irony, or wit in this book. Even a glimmer of any of that might have added some kick.

Kimberly Farr is a skilled professional reader, but the cornball, nasal voice she uses for the mother doesn't help matters.

On the plus side, it's very short.
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- Steve M

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-12-2016
  • Publisher: Random House Audio