FictionMy Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout


I have been incrementally seeing more of Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout’s books both on #bookstagram and in the wider press, so when I found My Name Is Lucy Barton at a local @oxfam bookstore last week I had to purchase it. Published in 2016 it was long listed for @thebookerprizes and received wide acclaim, with the sequel Oh William just released in October.

My beloved Hilary Mantel says of Strout that her attention to reality is so exact that it goes beyond a skill and becomes a virtue. This book was a short burst of literary sublime. You are hurtled head first into the lives of the characters who are at the centre of her writing. This is nuanced, deft prose that doesn’t waste a single word on building complex layered people and their relationships. 

I could have carried on reading for hours by the end, if you let her writing sweep you up it will surprise you as I didn’t feel overly swayed at the beginning. I can’t wait to delve into her other books.

~ Chaya

There’s good writing and then there’s great writing and for me, Elizabeth Strout epitomises the latter entirely. I have loved all of her books for their subtle magic and ability to bring people and scenarios to life with precisely the right words. 

My Name is Lucy Barton is no different. When Lucy is visited unexpectedly by her estranged mother during a hospital stay, she is forced to confront her childhood — one largely rooted in poverty, neglect and abuse. Strout’s outstanding writing creates a visceral experience of the loneliness and isolation experienced by Lucy at that time in her life.

What is so special about this book is the spaces that Strout creates; her full and comprehensive understanding of the nuances of the relationships between people and the impact that these have. There is such insight in her writing that you can’t fail to not only be enraptured by her characters and this story, but also to learn deeply from it, too.

~ Sophie

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