Read Mi chiamo Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout Susanna Basso Online

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In una stanza d'ospedale nel cuore di Manhattan, davanti allo scintillio del grattacielo Chrysler che si staglia oltre la finestra, per cinque giorni e cinque notti due donne parlano con intensità. Non si vedono da molti anni, ma il flusso delle parole sembra poter cancellare il tempo e coprire l'assordante rumore del non detto. In quella stanza d'ospedale, per cinque giorIn una stanza d'ospedale nel cuore di Manhattan, davanti allo scintillio del grattacielo Chrysler che si staglia oltre la finestra, per cinque giorni e cinque notti due donne parlano con intensità. Non si vedono da molti anni, ma il flusso delle parole sembra poter cancellare il tempo e coprire l'assordante rumore del non detto. In quella stanza d'ospedale, per cinque giorni e cinque notti, le due donne non sono altro che la cosa più antica e pericolosa e struggente: una madre e una figlia che ricordano di amarsi.Da tre settimane costretta in ospedale per le complicazioni post-operatorie di una banale appendicite, proprio quando il senso di solitudine e isolamento si fanno insostenibili, una donna vede comparire al suo capezzale il viso tanto noto quanto inaspettato della madre, che non incontra da anni. Per arrivare da lei è partita dalla minuscola cittadina rurale di Amgash, nell'Illinois, e con il primo aereo della sua vita ha attraversato le mille miglia che la separano da New York. Alla donna basta sentire quel vezzeggiativo antico, «ciao, Bestiolina», perché ogni tensione le si sciolga in petto. Non vuole altro che continuare ad ascoltare quella voce, timida ma inderogabile, e chiede alla madre di raccontare, una storia, qualunque storia. E lei, impettita sulla sedia rigida, senza mai dormire né allontanarsi, per cinque giorni racconta: della spocchiosa Kathie Nicely e della sfortunata cugina Harriet, della bella Mississippi Mary, povera come un sorcio in sagrestia. Un flusso di parole che placa e incanta, come una fiaba per bambini, come un pettegolezzo fra amiche. La donna è adulta ormai, ha un marito e due figlie sue. Ma fra quelle lenzuola, accudita da un medico dolente e gentile, accarezzata dalla voce della madre, può tornare a osservare il suo passato dalla prospettiva protetta di un letto d'ospedale. Lì la parola rassicura perché avvolge e nasconde. Ma è nel silenzio, nel fiume gelido del non detto, che scorre l'altra storia. Quella di un'infanzia brutale e solitaria, di una miseria umiliante, di una memoria tanto più dolorosa perché non condivisa. Oltre la finestra, le luci intermittenti del grattacielo Chrysler, emblema di grandi aspirazioni nella Grande Mela degli anni Ottanta, insieme all'alternarsi del sonno e della veglia e all'avvicendarsi delle infermiere dal nomignolo fiabesco, scandiscono il passare di un tempo altrimenti immobile. Ma il tempo passa. L'isola d'intimità di quei cinque giorni d'ospedale non si ripeterà nella vita di madre e figlia. Molti anni più tardi la donna è una scrittrice di fama. Ha scelto la parola al silenzio, dopotutto, perché è cosí che può raccontare anche quella storia d'amore. Un amore invalido, mezzo afasico, ma amore senza dubbio. Dalla sua insegnante di scrittura ha appreso che «ciascuno ha soltanto una storia. Scriverete la vostra unica storia in molti modi diversi. Ma tanto ne avete una sola». La donna si chiama Lucy Barton, e questa è la sua....

Title : Mi chiamo Lucy Barton
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9788806229689
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 168 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Mi chiamo Lucy Barton Reviews

  • Angela M
    2018-11-11 08:14

    When I first started reading this I had the feeling that it was going to be a remarkable story. It is after all written by Elizabeth Strout. I also thought when I first met Lucy Barton that this was going to be a story about an ordinary woman . I was so wrong about that . In this short book I came to know what an extraordinary character Lucy Barton is . She's someone I'd want to know and a character I'll remember. It's painfully sad at times in her reminiscences of her life growing up in Amgash , Illinois. She carries the burdens of a none too happy childhood, one of poverty and sometimes abuse , sheltered from the outside world in many ways . There are too few glimpses of joy in this complex , dysfunctional family but yet Lucy still can't help but think, "how our roots were twisted so tenaciously around one another's hearts ." Lucy remembers hers childhood as the narrative progressives and it moves from present to various times in her past , most notably when she is in the hospital for an extended period of time after routine surgery . This is when her mother, whom she hasn't seen for many years comes to visit her in the hospital in New York . What passes between mother and daughter in these five days while they talk about friends , cousins and marriages that didn't work out , among other things , is pretty amazing . We learn not only about Lucy's past but her present - her marriage and her children but about the capacity for love when it seems an improbable thing. What I found to be extraordinary about Lucy is that in spite of the past, she knows and has pretty much always known who and what she is . She's a mother who loves her children and she is a writer. In many ways the story is about her writing , but it is also about leaving when you need to, about coming to terms with who you are -the sum total of your past and present . I doubt whether I can do justice in this review to Strout's intelligent and meaningful perceptions about the human condition so you'll have to read it yourself when it is published in January , 2016. Highly recommended! I am grateful to Random House Publishing Group - Random House and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advance copy .

  • Debbie
    2018-11-09 10:17

    When I finished this book, I didn’t think I landed in wowsville. But after sticking my nose back into the book, I’m changing my tune. Every page I reread seemed rich and wow-y. So what the hell’s going on? This is all very confusing.First, here’s the plot, the whole plot, and nothing but the plot: Lucy (the storyteller) is lying in the hospital and her estranged mother comes from afar and sits there for five days. And I really mean she just sits there, except for sharing a few laughs—like giving the nurses funny names—and blathering on about the sad fate of various women from their hometown. (Ah, and the hometown is called Amgash. Is that supposed to be a disguise for Anguish?) Mostly the room is filled with awkward silence or silly gossip. But thanks to first-person narrative, we get to see inside Lucy’s head: about her growing up in poverty, being abused, rising above it all, plus her constant worry about whether her mother loves her. There are hints of affection, like when her mom calls her by a nickname. Lucy stays pretty stoical, and yearns for more.One of my gripes is that both Lucy and her mother are too damn passive for me. And they’re underground, too--they don’t dare let each other know what’s really going on in their head. Often passive people simultaneously annoy me (spit it out already), bore me (move it, why don’t you?), and make me nervous (damn it, let me know what’s going on!). Despite this, I felt deeply for Lucy. See? I’m all confused!Another gripe is that I found the language sort of dull, especially since I had just read the jazzy Dear Mr. You. Lucy’s story felt like it was coated with a Valium; there wasn’t a loud pulse. Give me edge and I’m happier. Still, when I poked my nose into the book later, the language seemed smooth and cool in a gentle way, and it was inviting. Not a yawnfest, not Hallmarky, and authentic as hell.Yet another gripe: I know the story focuses on Lucy and mom, but I was frustrated not to find out more about what was going on in her current family. Everything seemed too vague. It also seemed unrealistic that hubby and kids didn’t visit her in the hospital much. The final gripe is that most of Lucy’s childhood horrors are vague—I wanted vivid. There’s one rich image of Lucy and a truck, and it’s a doozy. But other signs of abuse were only hinted at. It was as muted as a Monet painting. Put the story in focus, damn it! Show me the details! I want to know exactly what happened to Lucy. If a friend told me a heavy story of her life and skimmed over the important parts, I’d be frustrated as hell. Don’t gloss over the It and leave me hanging! It’s not like I live to watch train wrecks, but I don’t like hearing half a story. I wanted to hear about Lucy’s childhood traumas (and also about her dissolving marriage), not just get handed little fragments. When I closed the book, it felt like there was some big chunk missing, a big hole.Nothing much happens in this book; it’s all introspective and psychological, recollection and insight. And that part I like, a lot. The juice is invisible—it’s the rubber-band-tight tension that’s created when Lucy and her mom are in the same room. This juice is what bumps the book up into wowsville. The book makes you think about big things. Like how we never escape from our past or the pain that was planted in us when we were growing up—Lucy’s sadness, for instance, will never entirely go away. And it gets you thinking about mom-daughter relationships. Is there always love between mothers and their children just because? And if the love is never expressed verbally, does it feel okay? Is it enough? Are we sure it’s really love? Strout’s strength is in knowing how to build tension without being all screamy and in creating a complex and insightful character who you feel deeply for. Eyes are averted, truths are not uttered, emotions stay hidden. What’s going on is subtle; we have to read between the lines. It's what isn't said that twists you all up inside, it’s the undercurrent that gets you. There’s melancholy and there’s longing, and there’s tenderness, regret, and acceptance. All powerful stuff. Yeah, I landed in wowsville, even if it’s sort of quiet here.Thank you, NetGalley, for the advance copy.

  • Diane S ☔
    2018-10-27 11:23

    I am totally in awe of this writer's talents. Whether one likes her characters or not (and truthfully some are unlikable if understandable, she makes the reader feel something. In this novel she takes a woman looking back on the nine weeks she spent in the hospital (I can relate) when her two daughters were young. The few days her mother spent at her bedside, a mother she has been estranged from for many years, and tries to find a sort of peace or at least understanding of the family she has left. There is a kind of tenderness, a gentleness in the telling of Lucy's story. As readers we always want the author to show us not just tell and Strout does just that. The voice of Lucy is not overly full of emotion rather her story evokes the emotion in us, the reader. Mother, daughter relationships are all different and yet I think many times complicated. Things from the past do turn up and affect us in many ways. There are so many poignant moments here, in this short book, conversations between mother and daughter do not center on what happened between them but are often about the marriages of other people they had both known. The focus in on Lucy's life and past, things that mattered to her that she had never been able to overcome. Did her mother ever really love her? That is what you will have to read this book to find out. ARC from publisher.

  • Emily May
    2018-10-19 06:03

    This is a story about a woman who loves her daughter. Imperfectly. Because we all love imperfectly. Depressing as hell. But I enjoyed wallowing in it for a while.My Name Is Lucy Barton covers a life story, poverty, abuse, art, marriage, the AIDs epidemic and subsequent fear, and a difficult relationship between a mother and daughter, all in less than two hundred pages. It's quite emotionally exhausting for such a short book but - perhaps because I had so few prior expectations - I found myself completely immersed in the story.All of the aforementioned themes are framed around Lucy Barton's stay in the hospital after an appendectomy results in complications. Her estranged mother visits out of concern and around this visit, through conversations and journeys into both the past and future, Lucy's life and relationships are revealed.There are some truly heartbreaking scenes scattered throughout this short novel, with the ultimate focus being on family and the breaking and tying of familial bonds. I now completely understand why many of my friends call Olive Kitteridge depressing without any ray of light or hope in sight. I don't think this is quite that bad, but thinking back on the parts that drew emotions out of me, I realise that all of them were sad.A really quite beautiful novel, but read it when you're in a happy place.Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Store

  • Justin
    2018-11-03 05:11

    Elizabeth Strout. Good Lord. This book had the same effect on me as Olive Kitteridge. I'm reading through this beautifully written, way too short novel, and the whole time I'm thinking about my own life and my past and my family and my relationships with others. She takes this simple story, written like a memoir or something, I guess... kind of quick flashes of stories from the past and present, and it's just wonderful. It's so good. But the whole time as I'm learning more about Lucy, it's like a mirror is being turned back at me forcing me to get all introspective and making me reflect on things deep within myself. God, it's amazing how a short work of fiction can do that, and this is twice now that Strout has done it to me. The whole time I'm reading through the book, I have this weight pressing down on me. Lucy Barton and I don't even have much in common at all, but her life and the lives of others feel so real, like I'm somewhere in the mix with them as an unspoken background character. Elizabeth Strout can do more in one paragraph than most authors can do with several pages. Her writing is so simple yet so beautiful. So easy to read yet so powerful. The stories she weaves together and the way she shares them left me turning the pages feverishly with my mouth permanently hung open, eyes not blinking, thinking about crying, but trying to be tough about the whole thing. I don't even want to tell you what it's about because it doesn't even matter. She could write about what she ate for breakfast and it would probably have some significant impact on your life. There's a paragraph about the sun going down that is just perfect. I can't... man... I just don't even know what to say anymore. Thank you, Ms. Strout for another small book that punched me right in the heart. I'm still trying to get up off the floor.

  • Jen
    2018-10-18 11:13

    **Updating this to 5★**I was totally captivated by this soulful, unassuming narrative that packs a punch of emotion. An ordinary story with an extraordinary character. The narrative begins with Lucy Barton reflecting on her life from the hospital bed where she spent 8 weeks after getting an infection from surgery. During this time, her mother whom she is estranged with, visits and stays for 5 meaningful days. She recalls her upbringing - the tough times and fleetingly disturbing moments that aren’t delved into too deeply but remembered with clarity; she speaks of the people in her life, their impact and how grateful she is to them all; her flawed life she acknowledges honestly with raw emotion. A powerful short book that is filled with the wisdom that only comes with age. My first Strout.

  • Elyse
    2018-10-16 08:24

    UPDATE: It came to my attention I may have given too much 'detail' information. (shame on me)... SPOILERS may be included in review.Lucy and her family grew up in a tiny rural town of Amgash, Illinois. "We were oddities, our family". Lucy had a brother and a sister. They all understood that they were different than other children. "Your family stinks"....(children would tease). The Barton family was poor, often in need of a bar of soap. The father worked on farm machinery ( fired & rehired often). The mother took in sewing. Most nights supper was molasses on bread...and the kids were often ravenous. There was punishment and there was isolation. After learning the above 'basic' information at the start of this novel ...is when a dance takes place between the reader and author's storytelling. ( a complex dance ... with sophisticated choreography going on - layers upon layers of topics are provided to grapple with).THIS IS A TERRIFIC BOOK CLUB CHOICEJumping Ahead: 1980's Lucy is an adult, married with two daughters ...and in the hospital. Her mother, whom she hasnot seen in many years comes for a 5 day visit. They have not seen each other in years. Her mother doesn't leave the hospital once - or accept a roll-a-way bed to sleep in. Her mother sits in a chair next to Lucy's hospital bed day & night- and doesn't seem to sleep. What conversations take place during these 5 days? How do you imagine Lucy feels? How do you imagine 'mom' would feel?I suspect the dynamics of the family relationships in this story might be more common than people would like to believe. Many children came from challenging childhoods. ( I did) Or had parents that were judgmental, critical, and the demeaning. Often adult kids are emotionally distant with their parents. Some of these adult kids never make peace with their history - others do. Lucy is a writer. She shares with us 'many' past memories -- in no chronological order--but what really stands out ...( we can feel her passion and pride), is when she shares about her journey, her process in becoming a writer. Lucy learns from life - teachers- she is an 'opening' for growth and being the source of her own life. Her mother shares stories about old friends, yet she can't seem to bring herself to talk about anything personal in Lucy's life- or their life together. I got the feeling Lucy's mother was afraid her daughter might write horrible storiesabout the dysfunctions in the family.... and that maybe if she could feed Lucy stories about'other' people, she might forget writing anything personal. There were insights:Lucy started to notice a few of the things she shared in common with her mother. For example: neither wanted to be judged by what they were reading. ... They both lived witha type of worry, "How are we going to make sure we do not feel inferior to another?"Lucy was aware when strangers were judgmental of the clothes she was wearing.....At the same time she has often been thankful to them kindness of strangers. I love this line:I have sometimes been sad that Tennessee Williams wrote that line for Blanche DuBois,"I have always depended on kindness of strangers." Many of us have been saved many times by the kindness of strangers, but after a while it sounds trite, like a bumper sticker. And that's what sad, that a beautiful and true line comes to be used so often that it takes on a superficial sound of a bumper sticker."There is absolutely nothing superficial in this novel. By the time I came to the end I felt I had just had a conversation with loving thoughtful friend, the type that leaves you feeling richer from the shared experience. Thank You Random House Publishing, Netgalley, and Elizabeth Strout! (I loved this)

  • Candi
    2018-10-24 07:07

    4.5 starsThis book! I really can’t stop thinking about this book. What at first felt like a simple, quietly understated series of snapshots of a woman’s life, has turned into a powerful novel that packs its punch through everything that is not spoken. Beautifully expressed with sparse prose, My Name is Lucy Barton left me breathless and, I have to admit, a bit teary by book’s end. "Lonely was the first flavor I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden inside the crevices of my mouth, reminding me." Lucy Barton’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois was burdened by poverty, isolation, abuse and a feeling of inferiority. She escaped these hardships and cultivated a new life with a husband and two daughters in New York City, in addition to a career in writing. She is now sitting in a hospital bed following a surgical infection when her estranged mother appears at her bedside to keep her company during her recovery. Mother and daughter sit in the shadow of the Chrysler building and chat about people and life back in Amgash. It seems the Chrysler building, with all its brilliant lights, is a symbol of what Lucy has attained through her liberation of sorts. At the same time, perhaps the shadow it casts is a reminder of the darkness that still lurks within Lucy’s soul. Lucy yearns to talk to her mother about her life now and perhaps extract a sign of approval for her achievements. But she never demands it; never says ‘look at me and see how I’ve triumphed despite all.’ She hungers to hear those three words that she has never heard spoken aloud by her mother, 'I love you.' Mother and daughter mostly speak of other people they knew back home, avoiding the nitty gritty details of their own troubled lives and relationships. We get snatches of what lies beneath the surface through Lucy’s inner reflections, but never quite journey to the real core of the family’s dysfunction. It’s hinted at, however, and one cannot help but feel the anguish underlying the young Lucy’s life, as well as the sorrow that she may still carry, but around which she has been able to adapt. She is hopeful and thankful for small kindnesses. I loved that about her. "Many of us have been saved many times by the kindness of strangers, but after a while it sounds trite, like a bumper sticker. And that’s what makes me sad, that a beautiful and true line comes to be used so often that it takes on the superficial sound of a bumper sticker."I don’t want to reveal too much more of this wonderful little book. I will say that once again I found myself meditating about my own mother-daughter relationships – that between me and my mother as well as the one between me and my daughter. I thought about the memories of my own childhood, some good, some bad – fortunately nothing as traumatic or dysfunctional as was alluded to in this story. I considered how those memories change over time and how they have shaped my own attitudes, behaviors, and bond with my own daughter. "This must be the way most of us maneuver through the world, half knowing, half not, visited by memories that can’t possibly be true." Is this how we adapt – either by forgetting the bad memories or dulling them until we can cope with them? Or is this simply a way of forgiving in order to move on with our own lives? Offering forgiveness is not easy, but it is freeing and life-giving, and I think Lucy taught me a little bit more about this priceless gift. At first I thought this book fell solidly at 4 stars. However, I cannot get Lucy or this novel out of my head and there was so much I loved about it. I must go with 4.5 stars, which, if my elementary math is correct, rounds up to 5 stars!

  • Lynne
    2018-10-15 12:17

    I must have read a different version of the book than everyone else. My version was more like notes where each note could have been formed into a chapter and the chapters could have been organized into a story. If it is the actual novel that I just finished, I'm completely missing the point. Sorry. But thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to attempt to understand this novel.

  • Kelli
    2018-11-02 05:05

    This book is universally loved by my friends and I understand why that is, though I can't embrace this book as others have. I admire the style of it and I acknowledge that the story was deliberately designed and assembled as it was, even though that was the piece that kept me from connecting with it the way others have. There were solid, valuable messages in this gentle story delivered in a tentative and scattered way. At times I felt as though I was listening in on a casual conversation between mother and daughter, while at other times I felt I was on the receiving end of an interview with Lucy. This story spoke to me but also left me wanting. 3 stars.

  • Esil
    2018-10-20 06:10

    I had the luxury of reading My name Is Lucy Barton in one sitting -- and if you can that's how I highly recommend this very short jewel of a novel be read. It's hard to describe what it's about. At its core it's a contemplative novel -- a novel about trying to make sense of life, trying to see how all the pieces fit together. Lucy Barton spends 9 weeks in the hospital in the 1980s in New York City following complications from a surgery. The story is written many years later, with her time in the hospital as her focal point -- but the time span runs from her childhood to the present. Her mother comes to stay with her in the hospital for a few days, which leads Lucy to dwell on her childhood of utter poverty in rural Illinois and her fraught relationship with her parents and siblings. Her husband and young daughters don't visit her much, which leads her to think about loneliness, her marriage and motherhood. And she also muses about writing, what it means to her, and how she was inspired by a number of people, including another author. For such a short novel, it's dense with story, thoughts and emotions. It's more of an experience than a story. A great little book to be savoured. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  • Iris P
    2018-10-17 10:25

    Second 2017 UpdateUpgrading my rating from 4 to 5 stars, no idea why I didn't before. Oh, I know, maybe because sometimes I am a dork! 2017 UpdateSo a funny thing happened to me this weekend. Have you ever had a book "triggered" you to read another book, even if they are not exactly related?After I finished reading the wonderful Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, I was compelled to re-read My Name Is Lucy Barton, which I originally read almost exactly a year ago.There are some small similarities, both stories are set in New York and centered in female protagonists. But as far as I can tell, there not so much more overlap between the two novels.In any case, I was glad to revisit this short novel. Strout's writing is deceptively understated, but is amazing how well she can craft this character in such a slim volume and what emotional punch it has on the reader.This time I listened to the audio book narrated by Kimberly Farr, which really becomes Lucy Barton on this fantastic performance. At a little bit more than 4 hours you can listen to it while doing chores. Highly recommended!*******************************************My Name Is Lucy BartonAbsolutely loved this emotional, heart-wrenching and introspective short novel.The mother-daughter relationships are especially poignant.

  • Brenda
    2018-11-06 07:25

    My Name is Lucy Barton is a short, simple, and quiet story that took me away from the noise and to that quiet place that I love. Just me, my tea and the beautiful powerful words of this magnificent story. The simple and quiet books are starting to become a favourite of mine.I loved Lucy and her ability to find kindness, her understanding of people, her compassion and how she can see light through all the hurt and darkness of her childhood. I liked how the relationship with her Mother and some things in this story were left unsaid leaving me to ponder and savour this story. I found it took me longer to gather my thoughts and write my review than it did to actually read the book and after pondering this story and thinking of the things said and left unsaid. I am going to leave the rest of my thoughts unsaid and highly recommend reading My Name is Lucy Barton. All of Norma’s & my reviews can be found on our Sister Blog:http://www.twogirlslostinacouleereadi...

  • Steve
    2018-10-28 07:23

    A book like this that’s short on words, but rich in meaning begs for a metaphor to describe it. As one I know I can flog, think of Strout’s profile here as an artful little mosaic. She doesn’t use many tiles, but the ones she does display are carefully colored and placed. With enough distance, a picture does emerge. While it may be true that not every reader likes having the space between tiles, for me, squinting and mulling were part of the pleasure. Had the book fully revealed the miseries of Lucy’s early life and her complicated relationships as an adult, I might have found it too familiar or, heaven forfend, sentimental. What follows is a sample of what we do get from the tiles, followed by what we might ponder from the spaces.Tile Topic: Remember, this is a picture. It’s not an animation. Very little qualifies as a plot beyond the fact that Lucy has mysterious complications from an appendectomy and ends up in a hospital bed for nine weeks. She’s a young mother at the time. Lucy’s own mother flies out from rural Illinois to visit Lucy in New York after years of not seeing her. The five-day visit is mostly filled with gossip about people from town. Space Speculation: This is a “show, don’t tell” kind of book. Come to think of it, a corollary we might call “allude, don’t conclude” also applies. We sense that Lucy has something to forgive, but we’re not exactly sure what it may be. She’s careful to avoid making her mom feel bad, though, and in return, Lucy does seem comforted by the visit. Her mom does not express love in conventional ways, but might there be proxies (flawed though they may be) that Lucy seeks? TT: The book proceeds with vignettes years before and years after her illness. The most affecting ones showed very clearly that poverty sucks. Growing up, Lucy and her family lived in the garage of her uncle’s house. They wore ratty clothes, ate bread with molasses for most meals, had no indoor plumbing beyond a sink with tepid water, and spent too much time feeling cold. SS: Does that sense of being looked down upon ever dissipate? When, as a child, you see the looks on the faces of classmates on the bus hoping you’ll find a seat elsewhere ever fade away? Do the few acts of kindness you enjoy (e.g., a free Thanksgiving dinner offered with a smile, a teacher chastising certain fellow students’ superior attitudes) tell readers how impactful even small gestures can be to those in need?TT: Among family members, Lucy was the lucky one. She spent hours in the library (partly just to stay warm) where she discovered books as a way to fight loneliness. As a side benefit, she got top marks in school and escaped with a college scholarship. Her brother and sister did not fare as well. He was too repressed to ever be whole and she was too resentful. Lucy’s dad had a temper, a bad war experience, and jobs that would never last. Her mom had issues of her own and at times would lash out indiscriminately. SS: Left unsaid was anything about a big event that capitalized the D in their family’s dysfunction. The shadow of a “thing” seemed to lurk, but what beyond general hardship might have cast it? Another dynamic we can only guess at is why Lucy and her siblings apparently preferred feeling ostracized in isolation rather than together as a team.TT: Lucy ultimately became a writer. Her motivation was a noble one: to help readers like herself feel less alone. A story that rings true emotionally creates an empathetic reader/writer bond. Truth can sound like "a child crying with the deepest of desperation," (though I doubt Lucy would allow it to appear overwrought). A fellow writer who served a short while as a mentor told Lucy we all have one story to tell. Lucy was told by another friend that she needed to write ruthlessly.SS: One question that occurred to me was whether “truth” is possible when there are lies of omission? It seems a relevant thing to ask in light of Lucy’s vague imputations. But then we may decide that reactions can feel real even when the causes are unknown. We may also wonder whether the “one story to tell” line suggests something the mentor may have had in common with Lucy – some sort of life-shaping trauma or sorrow. (One small tile showed how both Lucy and her instructor jumped out of their seats when a cat suddenly entered the room.) A clear-sighted vision of whatever this thing may be could inform an entire world view as well as the story one tells to represent it. And when that truth is an ugly one, a writer has to be ruthless to be honest. Coupled with that honesty, though – and this might just be the crux of it all for our protagonist, Lucy – is acceptance.TT: Thinking of this review as a kind of mosaic itself, it seems I’m working with even fewer tiles than Strout was. 1) I look at her themes and profiles and applaud the pixelation. 2) I like the greater truths that spring from fiction even when their roots are unknown. And 3), I argue that her book inspires in subtle, less clamorous ways.SS: OK, so maybe meta-mosaics don’t really work. Plus, I’ll admit that flogging a metaphor is one thing; but it’s quite another to maim it.

  • Perry
    2018-10-20 12:05

    "Pity Us All, We Don't Mean to be So Small"Completed Review, posted 9/6/16Lucy's Manhattan hosp. room had breathtaking view of the Chrysler Building, describing how the skyscraper's light at night through her window “shone like the beacon it was of the largest and best hopes for mankind and its aspirations and desire for beauty” This is the story of Lucy Barton, who grew up in great poverty and suffered her parents’ neglect and abuse in the farmlands of Illinois and went on to became a successful fiction writer in New York City. Poignant and profound on so many different levels, Lucy Barton’s tale about herself is also a tale of many people in her life and an exploration of their human condition from the random kindness of strangers to those who thrived on the most basest of needs in humans to find ways to feel superior to others by putting them down* (in this book, the prejudices were based primarily on social status (poor), regional distinctions (Southern, read “trash,” "cheapies"), and sexuality). It is a story that was maybe most heartrending for me in painting the pain of Lucy as a child who now, as an adult, must face the gradual realization of the pain she inflicted on her daughters, under her stormy truth that whether the pain to the child comes from the parents' neglect and abuse (Lucy's parents) or from the breakup of the parents' marriage (Lucy):...I think I know so well the pain we children clutch to our chests, how it lasts our whole lifetime, with longings so large you can’t even weep. We hold it tight, we do, with each seizure of the beating heart: This is mine, this is mine, this is mine.” This story shows how some of us simply cannot bear to face the harm we have done and so we lash out at all around us with unfair, ignorant judgments to make ourselves feel superior, or we erect silly walls of silence (as if by closing our eyes and pretending to nap, it shall disappear) to protect ourselves from acknowledging our faults, responsibilities and past mistakes. The story shows how some among us are apparently incapable of communicating our feelings of love, gratitude and forgiveness and are unable to grant the smallest measures of redemption. It’s a story of Lucy Barton’s father “who was tortured every day of his life for things he did during the war,” and of her mother as his “wife who stayed with him because most did during those days and she comes to her daughter’s hospital room and talks compulsively about everyone’s marriage going bad and she doesn’t even know that’s what she’s doing. This is a story about a mother who loves her daughter imperfectly.” This short novel also provides an unflinching look at the raw and unconditional love of children even in the face of a parent’s neglect or inability to reciprocate affections (the latter is, to me, one of the most jolting psychically and nearly the most calamitous in all of human relationships in its likelihood to continue in a grievous cycle); how the parents' failures in their obligations to their kids is likely to negatively alter the child’s view of their life in general, such that some children just assume defeat (as being the cause of the parent's neglect, abuse or lack of affection) as did Lucy's brother, some are absolutely consumed by anger and resentment toward the parents as being the cause of everything negative in their life, as did Lucy's sister, and others, such as Lucy Barton, have accepted their parents' character defects as part of who their parents were/are, accepted that neither they nor their parents can change the past, and these children such as Lucy have been blessed with the capacity to forgive (one of the most difficult gifts in the world to give.... yourself). Ugolino and His Sons, Jean-Baptiste, 1865-1867In sculpture garden of NY Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lucy read placard and "the children are offering themselves as food to their father. He is being starved to death in prison and these children only want one thing: to have their father’s distress disappear, they would allow him to eat them. And Lucy thought, 'pity us all, we don’t mean to be so small.'”And the story offers hope and redemption: when a child like Lucy of such a mother as hers can write a story describing her love for her mother, despite her mom’s inability to ever say “I love you” or to kiss her daughter, to in a way forgive her mother but also make other people understand that this may be shocking to you, but at least for Lucy Barton, “It was alright” (in hindsight).The little novel was also particularly significant to me in its reflection of writing as an art of creating truths that can maybe only be told through fiction. I thought of how the task of writing fiction could be wondrous in certain of the ways in which we view life. It seemed to me, Elizabeth Strout's alter ego was Sarah Payne, who appears a few times as Lucy's writing instructor and a sort of mentor. Sarah Payne offered that the job as a writer of fiction is “to report on the human condition, to tell us who we are, and what we think and what we do,” that the writer must come to the page without judgment and with “a heart as open as the heart of God.” These are the ways I'd like to view real life in its contemplation. Sarah P. also told Lucy that, "if you find yourself protecting anyone while you write this, you’re not doing it right.” In the novel also, one of Lucy's neighbors offers her early in her career the advice that she must be "ruthless." Lucy is unclear on the exact meaning of "ruthless," but if it's meant that a writer should be ruthless in pursuit of her writing and ruthless to the pettiness of our human natures then Lucy has succeeded. It seems to me that Strout and Lucy are saying is that the great writers must make a decision to put the writing above almost all else thus if that means getting out of an unhappy marriage or avoiding places that haunt us or writing negatively of a class close to us in our everyday life, then we may have to do that even if it harms our children, siblings and possibly our friendships. Maybe the novel was most subtly brilliant in Lucy addressing her heartbreak in dealing with her daughters after ending her marriage: consequences she did not consider at the time of her divorce when both her daughters were already in university as it relates to the pain she suffered due to the faults of her mother. For example, Lucy writes that when she’s alone she will sometimes say softly, “Mommy,” and she doesn’t know if it’s her calling out for her mom or her youngest daughter Becka's cry for Lucy on the day the planes crashed into the Twin Towers after Lucy had divorced her husband and, the daughters believe, abandoned them. This indeed is the human heart in conflict with itself that, as Faulkner noted, makes for great literature.________________________*“There is this constant judgment in this world. How are we going to make sure we do not feel inferior to another.”________________________________________________Preliminary Review (8/28/16)I won't say wow. I'll say WOW.I read this novel for a project on which I'm working.I can see that some will look up at the end and want to throw the book out the window, thinking "well, nothing really happened!" Which is why I think that readers who prefer their books traditional probably won't like this one. I wouldn't have 10 years ago. I might have hated it.As I try to put down my thoughts though now, after working hard to read as many classics and literary fiction novels as possible over the past 8 years, I cannot imagine how such a light book contains so much profundity on so many, many levels. I'd guess that each reader who liked this novel was affected in some different personal way.I happen to think that maybe this is the most poignant, both subtle and soulful, novel on prejudices based on one's social origins that I've read.That is, hateful prejudice creeps below many more areas than hatred looked at in other novels of one's country of origin, birth to a certain religion, of a different color or culture, of a specific sexual orientation or gender. Specifically, I refer to the hatred and denigration of those of us who were born to parents in a lower socio-economic status, or who grew up in a certain region or place and our accent coming therefrom, in none of which we played a role in the "perceived affliction" (both Elvis and the side character in this novel called "Mississippi Mary," were both from Tupelo, Mississippi and, thus, of course, "trash"), or what we might have suffered at the hands of abusive parents. And yet, all of the above facts, unchangeable and given us at birth, have been used senselessly, ignorantly and hatefully by nearly all of us, including highly educated people who EFFING know better and have no valid reason to hate (o high and mighty vanguards, glare into your looking glass, WHY must you hate like your hated haters?). It interests me how we find ways to feel superior to another person, another group of people. It happens everywhere, all the time. Whatever we call it, I think it's the lowest part of who we are, this need to find someone else to put down.Let me be clear: I don't equate the prejudice suffered based on national origin, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion to those suffered by people, like me, of a certain social origin. There is no comparison.What I do point out, as does the book, I think, is that hatred out of a need to put down is hatred, no matter its aim, and just as "damn-dog" ignorant and wrong. There are grades of wrong obviously. I've discussed in other reviews, and I won't beat the drum loudly here, the prejudice and even disgust and contempt I've suffered in certain places in this country as soon as I begin to speak because I have a Southern drawl, which, while definitely there, is not nearly as pronounced as say those from the many parts of the Appalachian Mountains for whom the mixture of Scottish and/or Yorkshire brogue with the drawl is usually an exceedingly thick accent and nearly impossible for actors to lose.I would hope a novel like this would shame the people who picture themselves as heroes/heroines about the irony of riding a big horse of morality while in private deriding an entire class of people or a region, and thereby divulging his/her own pathetic ignorance. I doubt many would disagree that consistency is a key to the high ground (or, at least away from "the lowest part of who we are") in matters like fighting hatred and bigotry or championing love and tolerance. I am definitely writing by tomorrow evening for my project a full review on this book. I'll probably tone down my ire by then.

  • Agnieszka
    2018-11-10 11:04

    I had some expectations aboutMy Name Is Lucy Bartonand truly wanted to like it better. I liked it premise – difficult relationship between daughter and mother and chance to make amends. I didn’t expect sudden reconciliation or instant falling into arms. I know sometimes people just can’t talk about love, can’t show what they feel. They live quietly, have children. Sometimes these kids understand and can get over it and make own life happy. I hoped for multilayered portrait of family but it was too shallow and distant, too ascetic in fact. Hunger, poverty, loneliness, difficult childhood. Sure hit, you say. Only it was too clichéd and now and then just unbearably sentimental. It felt like collection of vignettes without deeper thought, some scraps that reads rather like a draft than a proper novel. I love quiet heroes of every day, I back up them in their struggling, I don’t expect them to be bigger than life. I believe that where love is even the shabbiest hole feels like home. I wanted to know why Lucy's father acted so cruelly towards her brother, I didn’t want her platitudes how she felt seeing haggard people dying of AIDS or endless stories about neighbours that led nowhere actually. Instead of hearing about nurses at hospital I wanted to know her siblings. I wished for attempt to analyze her marriage. I wanted ... just wanted more her. That novel had potential but was too fragmentary to give fuller and in-depth picture. Lucy Barton, you could do better, you’re a writer and you could give me your story instead of casting at me some vague snippets and shreds to pick them up. Vagueness neither lent your story complexity and psychological depth nor made its protagonist more human. I wished I could know you better but you barely showed me your blurred silhouette.

  • Linda
    2018-11-06 08:26

    How is it that we can truly know the inner workings of another human being? It's all in the conversations, the dialog, the exchange of thoughts and ideas.....and even in those moments when words, themselves, are not even necessary. We cross swords in games of subterfuge while we clasp tightly to our deepest secrets which we label "ours" and certainly not "theirs".Lucy Barton is hospitalized with a prolonged illness. Her mother turns up at the foot of her bed quite unexpectantly one evening. Lucy has not seen her mother in years. Much like the poem from Lewis Carroll, The Walrus and the Carpenter, they speak of "shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings." Their conversations touch from the mundane to the prolific as mother and daughter dance around topics sometimes best left unsaid. And yet, so much is revealed, especially by Lucy.Elizabeth Strout can write hidden feelings into words like no other. Lucy says: "It's funny how one thing can make you realize something like that. One can be ready to give up children one always wanted, one can be ready to withstand remarks about one's past, or one's clothes, but then --a tiny remark and the soul deflates and says: Oh."And I think that line says it all. How we invite, we coerce, we sometimes hover in expectation of the deadly words and actions of others. We keep them in jars by our bedside. It's simply time to release them all.....and the real or imagined power that they possess....release them all.

  • Carol
    2018-10-20 12:58

    MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON is a short 200 page novella jam-packed with emotional substance. It's a story of a daughter who so loves her mother despite her unpleasant childhood, a daughter who so wants the approval and love of her mother in return.As she recovers from surgery complications, a shocked Lucy receives a five day visit from her estranged mother who can only express her feelings by telling stories of old acquaintances and their imperfect lives; and while listening, Lucy Barton revisits her own memories of terror, isolation and the "thing" she does not want to remember in order to make peace with herself and her family.Interesting and touching read narrated in the form of multiple short stories as with Olive Kitteridge.

  • Liz
    2018-10-23 11:13

    I listened to this and it augmented the feeling that I was listening in on someone else’s conversation or being part of a one sided conversation. Like a conversation, the book meandered from thought to thought, bringing up different people and past events. This is the trademark of Elizabeth Strout's work, these somewhat interconnected stories. I had read All Things Are Possible before this book, so a lot of the names felt like familiar old friends whose history I already knew. Despite her strange, dysfunctional family, Lucy loves her parents. Even as an adult, she calls them mommy and daddy, which I found very odd. If you liked any of her other work, you will like this. If you like character driven narratives, you'll like this. The part that struck me the most was Sara Payne’s comment that Lucy’s writing was about people that love imperfectly. It perfectly describes this book.

  • Nat
    2018-11-09 05:08

    This one hurts, but it's amazing.I picked My Name Is Lucy Barton up one day randomly and ended up finishing it quite quickly, especially towards those last 100 pages. I was captivated by its strange but compelling storyline. Plus, I was really loving the vibe this book gave off. My Name Is Lucy Barton was exactly what I was in the mood for: an epic but, at the same time, quiet family saga. Oh, and there’s gossip (!!!) about people from Lucy's childhood in Amgash, Illinois.Our story begins to unfold when Lucy Barton arrives at the hospital to have her appendix out. Difficulties ensue and she ends up staying for a number of weeks. And while slowly recovering, her mother - whom she hasn't seen in years- arrives. Slowly over their next five shared days, they reminisce on the lives of their family and friends.Side note: her mother remains a mystery that I'm desperate to solve, especially the dreams and visions she briefly mentioned.“My family did not attend my wedding or acknowledge it, but when my first daughter was born I called my parents from New York, and my mother said she had dreamed it, so she already knew I had a baby girl, but she didn’t know the name, and she seemed pleased with the name, Christina. After that I called them on their birthdays, and on holidays, and when my other daughter, Becka, was born. We spoke politely but always, I felt, with discomfort, and I did not see any of my family until the day my mother showed up at the foot of my bed in the hospital where the Chrysler Building shone outside the window.”I love it when dreams are mentioned in books—it’s how you win over my heart in a second.I do, however, need to mention that it took me awhile to get used to the writing style. Here's a perfect example of why:“At the end of the night I heard him say to a woman who’d come to speak to him, “She’s always taken a stage well.” He did not say it nicely, is how I felt. And I took the subway home alone; it was not a night I loved the city I have lived in for so long. But I could not have said exactly why. Almost, I could have said why. But not exactly why.”It seemed as though awkwardly formed sentences were thrown in together that I had to reread in order to understand their full meaning. But overtime I got accustomed to the narrative, and it seemed to flow better for me.Also, I love this next bit:Then she said, “Listen to me, and listen to me carefully. What you are writing, what you want to write,” and she leaned forward again and tapped with her finger the piece I had given her, this is very good and it will be published. Now listen. People will go after you for combining poverty and abuse. Such a stupid word, ‘abuse,’ such a conventional and stupid word, but people will say there’s poverty without abuse, and you will never say anything. Never ever defend your work. This is a story about love, you know that. This is a story of a man who has been tortured every day of his life for things he did in the war. This is the story of a wife who stayed with him, because most wives did in that generation, and she comes to her daughter’s hospital room and talks compulsively about everyone’s marriage going bad, she doesn’t even know it, doesn’t even know that’s what she’s doing. This is a story about a mother who loves her daughter. Imperfectly. Because we all love imperfectly. But if you find yourself protecting anyone as you write this piece, remember this: You’re not doing it right.”I love how Elizabeth Strout took the time to create such beautiful and tragic backstories to each of her characters, whether they were the main or side ones. Her voice is strong and clear throughout the storyline—it made all the noise in my head quiet.My Name Is Lucy Barton is a truly enthralling and powerful book on myriad topics—from family, secrets, and love to dreams and memories— that made it quite impossible to put down. I wasn’t planning on finishing this so quickly, but it was just too good not to.*Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying My Name Is Lucy Barton, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!* This review and more can be found on my blog.

  • Michael
    2018-11-07 13:09

    A quiet but moving reverie by a resilient woman on various timepoints in her life, revealing the distorted lens by which she views life around her and the troubling experiences of her past. In some ways Lucy becomes the epitome of the flawed way we all survive by filtering reality and numbing ourselves. But eventually she became a hero to me in several ways. She learns to harness the vital power of simple kindness transmitted from people around her through simple acts and gestures. In a visit by her estranged mother while sick in the hospital she extends that capacity to the point of forgiving her for her failures of neglect and abuse during her childhood. She also captures my heart by carrying through on an inspiration from her discovery of reading in grade school: “I will write and people will fell less alone!”We spend most of the book time in the 90s when as a middle-aged Manhattanite Lucy is forced to spend several months in the hospital with a prolonged illness. Her husband is busy with work and caring for their daughters, and so Lucy is mostly alone at first and led to kaleidoscopic introspection. But then she is surprised by a visit from her elderly mother, whom she hasn’t seen in more than a dozen years, a breach precipitated their rejection of her choice for marriage. The five days her mother sits by her bedside, sleeping in a chair, are filled with discussions on neutral topics, gossip about community members they both knew, giving comic nicknames to the hospital staff, etc. Though their talk never touches directly on the traumas that separated them long before the final split and neither display explicit affection physically or verbally, Lucy comes to feel and accept that her mother really does love her. Lucy herself can only experience the extreme poverty of her girlhood in rural Illinois in little memory snatches. Periodic reminders of the constant hunger or of the brutal cold of their garage apartment; flashes on being locked in a car at 3 or 4 years old while both parents worked; the frequent subjection to suddenly being whacked by her stressed out mother; the stigma and bullying in school over her inferior hygiene and clothes. Even without such extremes, I think we all buffer ourselves from the formative pains from our past. She has some awareness of projecting false memories or glosses on the dark patches. For example, a memory of running away from troubles into the fields can become a rosy vision, as in ironic form here :Oh corn of my youth, you were my friend!—running and running between the rows; running as only a child, alone, in summer can run, running to that stark tree that stood in the middle of the confield-- As an adult taking writing classes, she gets inspired by a teacher to try to make meaning of her life by finding her voice. Once in discussion with her, a cat startles both them excessively, prompting the teacher to recognize an important thing they share: “How long have you suffered post-traumatic stress?” The teacher also gets her thinking in terms of one’s life being a story the self is writing. In reading some of what Lucy writes for class about her mother, she helps her see the piece as a reflection of imperfect love and that “we all love imperfectly.” She instills some confidence in her with the advice that:You’ll write your one story many ways. Don’t ever worry about story. You have only one.This is a short book with a long slow burn extending well after I put it down. I found it a pretty radical mind bender achieved without getting into smug postmodernist tricks. This is my third book by Strout (the others being "Olive Kittridge" and "Abide with Me"), and I’m becoming quite a fan. That said, I would be wary about pushing it on a wide array of friends because of the lack of major plot elements many people expect in a novel. The biggest theme of my interest in novels is in the development of self and of knowledge of how to live and be human. Just as important to that interest as stories that go from childhood to adulthood are tales like this that effectively deconstruct the self backward and spin the yarn into the tapestry going forward (the angle of “the child is the father of the man”).

  • Carol
    2018-11-04 10:10

    What a beautifully told “un-fairy tale”. The book opens with Lucy recuperating in the hospital after an operation. I was personally puzzled by her lengthy stay in the hospital. It seemed to mostly provide a setting for Lucy to reflect and assess her past life of living in very poor, abusive and dysfunctional family. Her estranged mother, whom she has not seen in a long time, makes the journey to visit her. I was in tears at one point as Lucy desperately tries in vain to reach out to her mother for love, kindness or affection…something that her mother is sadly incapable of giving.Somehow Lucy escaped this childhood and moved to New York City. Despite her difficult past she survived, married and became a mother. Yet, ultimately, this short book still seems to convey a sense of longing and searching.I love this author’s style of writing. This is a great example of a writer showing instead of just telling. Much is implied as Lucy slowly evolves to reveal herself. This method packs an emotional punch and sustains the story for me. Her marriage, her motherhood and her divorce touched an emotional chord with me. There are elements of the story that mirror my own life and provoked a lot of deep reflection after I finished the book.The language is spare. The writing leaves more said by what is clearly unsaid and is made all the more powerful and vital for it. I absolutely loved this quiet, reflective novel!

  • Karen
    2018-11-14 10:59

    I so enjoyed this book and getting to know Lucy. I was so sad about her poor, abusive and emotionally disconnected family upbringing. I feel she managed very well to turn things around with her own children.The main part of the book, the visit from her estranged mother during Lucy's nine week hospital stay was touching, but sad because I felt the mother held back much of her emotions.The rest of this book was Lucy's insights on people and living. This author really made you feel Lucy's pain.

  • Phrynne
    2018-10-17 08:16

    An apparently simple tale of a woman's life from early hardship to later success, yet nothing about it is actually simple. Lucy Barton tells much of her story from a hospital bed where she has endless time to think back to her childhood and her life since. She recalls and mentions many things in passing and leaves much to the reader's imagination. A snippet of information here, a hint of something there and we are eventually pretty sure her childhood was not just deprived but also abusive. By the end of the book Lucy is obviously someone to be admired for her ability to not only survive but to rise above her situation. I enjoyed her story very much and also enjoyed the author's deft, understated style where nothing was actually explained yet so much was said. My first book by this author but not my last!

  • Noeleen
    2018-10-24 11:22

    There’s no doubt that Elizabeth Strout is a great author, she really doesn’t waste a word. One of my favourite novels ever is 'Olive Kitteridge' (the TV adaptation is equally brilliant)…so I was eagerly looking forward to reading ‘My Name Is Lucy Barton’. I find it difficult book to express my thoughts on this story. While I really liked it (more than 'The Burgess Boys') I didn’t love it as much as I wanted. I felt there was just something missing although I hugely appreciate the sentiment within it. I wanted it to punch me in the gut, I wanted to feel the emotion, but it only went so far and raised a little lump. I loved the ‘gossip’ segments of the various marriages of people in Lucy’s childhood but I never felt that I got the full sense of the troubled aspect of Lucy's upbringing. I wanted much more detail. Lucy's background stories were too vague and hazy. I never fully got a sense of the full picture of Lucy’s background and experiences. Overall, it’s a good read but not one that I would be gushing to recommend. This is definitely a book that I need to re-visit in the future as I think after a re-read , I may think differently on it. There’s nothing more frustrating than wanting to love something but didn’t and feeling that you may have missed out on something very special.

  • Hannah
    2018-10-24 11:17

    I am in love with Elizabeth Strout's writing, I adore how she manages to show the extraordinary in the ordinary and how fantastically real her characters seem. That said, I did not love this quite as much as I loved Anything Is Possible. It might be because I expected too much - it is very rare that I more or less jump straight to another book written by the author whose book I just enjoyed (I like jumping around genres and authors in my reading a whole lot too much for that, usually). But I just couldn't get enough of the world Elizabeth Strout created and I was eager to see other aspects of the people I had grown fond of. I think it might have worked better had I read this one first because this just gave me such an appetite to read "Anything is Possible" again and again and again.This book tells, kind of disjointedly (I mean that in the best possible way), the story of Lucy Barton's relationship with her mother. Lucy is sick and lying in hospital, when her mother who seems to have been extraordinarily difficult when Lucy was a child comes to stay with her, telling her stories about home, about the people Lucy left behind when she went to college.So what am I trying to say about this? I enjoyed this, a lot. The book is very readable and Lucy Barton is a great character to spend tme with. But, it did feel a bit superficial and like there was so much more to discover, right under the surface. And while I enjoy this feeling in short stories, in novels it leaves me a wanting more. However, I still think Elizabeth Strout is on her way of becoming one of my favourite authors - I just love love love the handle she has on characters and interactions and relationships and I adore that before all else in fiction.

  • Dianne
    2018-10-24 11:06

    I received an ARC of this book from Random House via NetGalley and also from Random House via Goodreads Giveaways. Thanks to Random House, NetGalley and Goodreads.Eloquent and achingly poignant, this slim volume captures the intense longing a daughter, Lucy Barton, has for the love of her mother, who abused and neglected her as a child. Lucy, who hasn’t seen her mother in many years, is hospitalized in New York City for 9 weeks due to complications from an appendectomy. She awakens one day 3 weeks after being admitted to the hospital to find her mother unexpectedly at her bedside. For the five days she is there, Lucy and her mother talk about former neighbors, relatives, and other superficialities but share none of the intimacies that Lucy hopes for. Wrapped around this five day visit are short chapters where Lucy reveals her life story – but you have to read between the lines. Many things are inferred but never directly said. While the story is wrenching, Lucy’s quiet resilience and dignity will uplift you at the end.Masterfully done – I read it twice, once for the story and the second time to absorb the craft of Elizabeth Strout. What a writer!! Just wonderful.

  • Sue
    2018-11-01 07:09

    This is an excellent story of tentative approaches to understanding one's own existence told in the reminiscences of the fictional Lucy Barton. We meet Lucy as she is undergoing a lengthy hospitalization; initially scheduled for an appendectomy, she has a series of complications that results in weeks away from home and family. She drifts away from her self and those she loves and is anchored by her doctor. Then her mother, long estranged, comes to visit her in the hospital, an unusual visit in many ways but one that fuels her recovery, her future.What a fine book to finish my reading year! (this review is, sadly, very delayed) Lucy Barton is a story of family, of damaged relationships and unspoken childhood problems, adulthood attempts to come to terms with the past, navigating relationships throughout life while protecting the self, the remaining child. And it is also a tale of the development of a writer and how this merges with the tangle of her fractured family life.I highly recommend this book and personally plan to read more of Strout's books as soon as possible.A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  • Orsodimondo
    2018-10-31 07:20

    LA VITA CONTINUA, FINO A QUANDO NON CONTINUA PIÙ Una Strout diversa da quella cui sono abituato, una gradita sorpresa: via da Falls, Maine, più reticente del solito, con scrittura meno fluida, più spezzata.E che invece continui nel solco noto ad attingere al pozzo eterno delle relazioni familiari è cosa buona e giusta: la famiglia è un topos inesauribile, come s’insegna in qualsiasi corso di scrittura creativa, televisiva e cinematografica incluse. E come ci insegnano i classici, a cominciare da quelli greci. La stessa Strout definisce questo suo romanzo semplicemente la storia di una madre e di una figlia. Un lessico familiare.I ragazzi Burgess, il romanzo precedente della Strout, esordiva con un prologo in prima persona nel quale si accennava al difficile rapporto della narratrice con la madre, alla difficoltà di esprimere il sentimento, un blocco che veniva superato come spesso succede sconfinando su un terreno neutro, le chiacchiere di paese, in questo caso la famiglia Burgess. Prima di passare dalla prima alla terza persona, Strout lasciava una frase che sembrava scolpita su pietra: Nessuno conosce mai veramente qualcuno.Sembrerebbe un prologo perfetto anche per questo nuovo romanzo. Se non che Lucy va un bel passo oltre: se nessuno conosce mai veramente qualcuno, come si può giudicare, men che meno condannare? E quindi, bentornata mamma, di te ricordo cose belle, a dire il vero ricordo solo quelle, i momenti d’amore, di protezione, i gesti risolti, l’accoglienza…Mi piace la vista dalla finestra della camera d’ospedale che accoglie Lucy Barton per nove settimane (una banale operazione di appendicite si complica per un’infezione e la costringe a un ricovero prolungato): il Chrysler Building, quel magnifico grattacielo sulla 42° a Manhattan.Nel frattempo intorno scorrono le figure importanti della sua vita, quali presenti in carne e ossa, come la madre che appare inattesa e si ferma per cinque giorni durante i quali sembra non dormire e non nutrirsi, o il marito, quali invece presenti nei racconti, nei pensieri, nella rievocazione letteraria.Lucy Barton ha alle spalle un’infanzia che nessuno può invidiarle: povertà più miseria più indigenza più freddo più fame più sporcizia più ignoranza più… Come la Lenù dell’Amica Geniale, e al contrario di Gatsby, si è affrancata da un inizio di vita a dir poco azzoppante tramite studio, conquista della cultura, il mestiere di scrivere.Adesso vive a New York, ha sostituito il cielo della provincia da cui proviene con la gente (A New York al posto del cielo abbiamo la gente).Edward Hopper: Room In Brooklyn, 1932.Lucy Barton ripensa/rivive/ricalibra il suo passato e il suo presente raccontandolo al lettore: lo fa sbalzando i piani temporali, anche il periodo del ricovero è parte del passato, il tempo della scrittura è più recente, e tante cose succedono e sono successe prima che il romanzo sia completo (separazioni, divorzi, matrimoni, riappacificazioni… l’intero corredo di tutte le storie familiari): Ci fu un tempo, ormai molti anni fa, in cui dovetti trascorrere quasi nove settimane in ospedale. Succedeva a New York e la notte, dal mio letto, vedevo davanti a me il grattacielo Chrysler con la sua scintillante geometria di luci.Che Lucy sia una scrittrice e ci parli di suoi colleghi, come la Sarah Payne conosciuta in uno di quei negozi di abbigliamento per cui New York è famosa, arricchisce queste pagine di osservazioni sul mestiere di scrivere che ho trovato belle e preziose.Che Strout mi risparmi il suo consueto finale alla melassa è un altro regalo che ho apprezzato.Edward Hopper: Early Sunday Morning, 1930.Fin qui ciò che mi ha convinto e mi è piaciuto. C’è purtroppo uno snodo di trama che trovo basilare e che Strout mi spiega male, dà quasi per scontato, non motiva, non costruisce, e lì il romanzo incespica, gravemente secondo me. Mi chiedo come sia possibile che una famiglia come quella Barton d’origine, che Lucy definisce malata, e suo marito le ricorda quanto poco le piacessero i suoi parenti (madre, padre, fratello e sorella) – dove il padre è un mostro, anche violento, capace di trattamenti genitoriali da manuale horror – il tutto con acquiescenza connivenza e complicità materna – una famiglia che definire anaffettiva è eufemistico - al punto che da grande il fratello si corica con i maiali la notte prima che vengano macellati, e legge ancora i libri per bambini, quelli sulla gente della prateria – com’è che con questa premessa Lucy e sua madre trascorrono cinque giorni insieme in un clima così idilliaco.Aggiungo che avrei preferito Strout evitasse il breve accenno all’11 settembre che per farmi capire da lei mi viene da definire corny.Il suono del granturco che cresce e del mio cuore che si spezza sono tutt’uno.Edward Hopper: Untitled (Rooftops), 1926.Loneliness was the first flavour I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden in the crevices of my mouth, reminding me.

  • PattyMacDotComma
    2018-11-08 13:06

    5★I read this.. . and then I had to read it again. It is just so full. Lucy is a tender, lost soul who was battered by circumstance but is now finding her story.“Lonely was the first flavor I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden inside the crevices of my mouth, reminding me.”Lucy, a writer, weaves her story back and forth between today and her wretched childhood. During her early marriage, she spent nine weeks in hospital, mysteriously feverish after an appendectomy. Her mother, who used to beat her and whom she hadn’t seen in years, appeared suddenly in a chair by Lucy’s hospital bed and remained there for five days. She refused the offer of a bed. She was a shadowy figure, almost as if Lucy had conjured her up. Her mother mostly recited old gossip, with Lucy finishing some of the familiar sentences. But then, a revelation. She heard her mother “suddenly speak of her childhood, how she had taken catnaps throughout her childhood too. “’You learn to, when you don’t feel safe,’ she said. ‘You can always take a catnap sitting up.’"Lucy, on the other hand, slept through the night for the first time as soon as her mother was there. “Her being there, using my pet name, which I had not heard in ages, made me feel warm and liquid-filled, as though all my tension had been a solid thing and now was not.”It is often said that abused children will choose to stay with an abusive mother rather than leave home. Better the devil you know? Lucy had escaped her unspeakable childhood in rural Amgash, Illinois, loving books and learning, which led her to New York, but unwelcome memories intrude:“The truck. At times it comes to me with a clarity I find astonishing. The dirt-streaked windows, the tilt of the windshield, the grime on the dashboard, the smell of diesel gas and rotting apples, and dogs. I don’t know, in numbers, how many times I was locked in the truck.”and“. . . in my youth there were times that I wanted desperately to run to a stranger when we went into town and say, ‘You need to help me, please, please, can you please get me out of there, bad things are going on—‘ And yet I never did, of course; instinctively I knew that no stranger would help, no stranger would dare to, and that in the end such a betrayal would make things far worse.”Dirt-poor, cold, neglected, beaten, and shunned at school for being dirty and stinky, Lucy had only one friend - a tree. “In the middle of the cornfields stood one tree, and its starkness was striking. For many years I thought that tree was my friend; it was my friend.”This touching uncertainty—“I thought it was my friend; it was my friend”—crops up many times, as if Lucy hasn’t enough confidence to make a simple declarative statement. Saying her doctor apparently understood her loneliness, she says, “This is what I want to think. This is what I think.”She was so unsure and starved for affection as a child that she consumed any crumb of attention, declaring her love for people who have shown her simple kindness—the doctor, a professor, an artist. She was nobody. She was ignorant of the world and didn’t know who she was.Now she does, and she says in unqualified declarative statements: “This one is my story. This one. And my name is Lucy Barton.”Many thanks to NetGalley, Random House and Penguin for an advanced copy to review.