My Name is Lucy Barton

There was a time, and it was many years ago now, when I had to stay in a hospital for almost nine weeks. This was in New York City, and at night a view of the Chrysler Building, with its geometric brilliance of lights, was directly visible from my bed. During the day, the building’s beauty receded, and gradually it became simply one more large structure against a blue sky, and all the city’s buildings seemed remote, silent, far away. It was May, and then June, and I remember how I would stand and look out the window at the sidewalk below and watch the young women — my age — in their spring clothes, out on their lunch breaks; I could see their heads moving in conversation, their blouses rippling in the breeze. I thought how when I got out of the hospital I would never again walk down the sidewalk without giving thanks for being one of those people, and for many years I did that — I would remember the view from the hospital window and be glad for the sidewalk I was walking on.

 

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A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, including Olive Kitteridge and The 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.

 

Kirkus Starred Review

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Strout has a magnificent gift for humanizing characters.
San Francisco Chronicle
What truly makes Strout exceptional . . . is the perfect balance she achieves between the tides of story and depths of feeling.
Chicago Tribune
[Strout] constructs her stories with rich irony and moments of genuine surprise and intense emotion.
USA Today
[Strout’s] themes are how incompletely we know one another, how ‘desperately hard every person in the world [is] working to get what they need,’ and the redemptive power in little things—a shared memory, a shock of tulips.
People Magazine

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A Reader's Guide to My Name Is Lucy Barton
 

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