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3.5 Stars. Beautifully written (Strout's gift with language is exquisite) but unstintingly sad, this rumination on life, love and family is almost painful to sit through. Oh, how I wanted Lucy Barton to have one (just one) moment of pure, unadulterated happiness. But, no.
Lucy Barton narrates her life by focusing on memories. She tells us how she grew up poor (so poor), how she was locked in her father's truck all day because she was too young to go to school and they had no one to watch her, how her parents refused to accept her husband because he was German, how her mother comes to visit her while she's in the hospital for an unexplained illness (Lucy is happy about this but then her mother leaves, which makes her sad all over again). Through these stories, we get a glimpse of Lucy's life, from child to adult.
I found the book almost oppressive in its sadness, despite the beautiful words created by Strout.
The narrator did a very nice job. She was clear and easy to understand and really worked hard on bringing emotion to the story.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
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.
28 of 30 people found this review helpful