My Name is Lucy Barton

#1 New York Times Bestseller

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.

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#1 New York Times Bestseller

Kirkus Starred Review

There is not a scintilla of sentimentality in this exquisite novel. Instead, in its careful words and vibrating silences, My Name Is Lucy Barton offers us a rare wealth of emotion, from darkest suffering to—‘I was so happy. Oh, I was happy’—simple joy.
— Claire Messud The New York Times
Spectacular . . . Smart and cagey in every way. It is both a book of withholdings and a book of great openness and wisdom. . . . [Strout] is in supreme and magnificent command of this novel at all times.
— Lily King, The Washington Post
A short novel about love, particularly the complicated love between mothers and daughters, but also simpler, more sudden bonds . . . It evokes these connections in a style so spare, so pure and so profound the book almost seems to be a kind of scripture or sutra, if a very down-to-earth and unpretentious one.
— Marion Winik, Newsday
Potent with distilled emotion. Without a hint of self-pity, Strout captures the ache of loneliness we all feel sometimes.
— Sarah Begley, Time
An aching, illuminating look at mother-daughter devotion.
Sensitive, deceptively simple . . . [It’s] more complex than it first appears, and all the more emotionally persuasive for it.
— Heller McAlpin, San Francisco Chronicle
Much of the joy of reading Lucy Barton comes from piecing together the hints and half-revelations in Strout’s unsentimental but compelling prose. . . . She reminds us of the power of our stories—and our ability to transcend our troubled narratives.
— Connie Ogle, Miami Herald
Writing of this quality comes from a commitment to listening, from a perfect attunement to the human condition, from an attention to reality so exact that it goes beyond a skill and becomes a virtue.
— Hilary Mantel
— Ann Patchett



A Reader's Guide to My Name Is Lucy Barton

included in the paperback edition

Questions for Discussion ▸

My Name is Lucy Barton was a different kind of book for me, and writing it surprised me. While I hope for all my books to provide the reader with a kind of intimate experience this one seems particularly available for that, I think. It is written in the first person — the only novel I have written this way — and her voice became very real to me as I wrote; I felt I knew her very well, and I hope the reader feels this too.
— Elizabeth Strout, Author's Note for My Name Is Lucy Barton