Throwback Thursday – “My name is Lucy Barton”

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favorites. This week I’m showcasing a novel that I read over three years ago. “My name is Lucy Barton” was a title that I got from NetGalley. It was, for me, a FIVE STAR read.

I SO enjoyed my first time reading Elizabeth Strout!  Written in a very different style from what I usually read, it was almost a stream of consciousness.  I felt the author was speaking 9781400067695directly to me.  Like a personal friend sharing her intimate, innermost thoughts.

We meet Lucy Barton when she is hospitalized for an undisclosed illness, an infection of some sort.  A happily married mother of two young girls, Lucy feels as though being in hospital has made her isolated and apart – a feeling she is very familiar with.  She longs to return home to resume her life.  During her hospital stay of almost nine weeks she lies in her bed looking out the window at the Chrysler Building against the night building


Lucy is a writer.  When reading books she feels less ‘alone’ so she wants to write so that other people will feel less alone also.  She says that in the third grade she read a book that made her want to write a book.

Her enforced idleness provides her with ample time to reflect on her life and her marriage, and she tries to understand herself and those who have touched her life.

When her estranged mother makes the long journey from rural Illinois to New York City to visit her, she reconnects with her and relives many childhood memories – none of them pleasant.  Lucy grew up poor and neglected.  Shown no affection, emotionally traumatized and without many of the physical comforts, even basic necessities, that so many of us enjoy.  She reflects on how she and her siblings ‘did without’ and how they were ostracized by their schoolmates.  She doesn’t have any knowledge of popular culture, partly due to the fact that she didn’t have a television growing up.  She remembers being cold and being left to fend for herself. As more and more unsettling revelations come patientto light, the reader wonders how Lucy can stand to have her mother in the same room.  Yet she seems delighted and grateful for her presence.

Her mother has never expressed her feelings toward Lucy and that has not changed. She seems incapable of showing affection – though the reader wonders if it is there, hidden beneath her brusque exterior. Lucy has always felt unlovable.  She cannot remember her mother ever giving her a kiss.

Every mother of a daughter knows that they long for that time when they can get past all the parental angst and guilt.  When they can ‘connect’ in a true way.  Lucy wants this for herself, and, she wants it for her daughters.

Lucy Barton voices the thoughts that many of us share.  How we all have an inherent need for respect and belonging.  How hurtful it is to feel judged, humiliated, desperate or to suffer indignities at the hands of others.  How everyone longs to be understood.

While writing about the brief reunion of a mother and daughter, Elizabeth Strout also writes about the human condition.  Sharing her thoughts with honesty and candor.

A novel of mothers and daughters which aptly illustrates the imperfections of love.

Highly recommended!


Elizabeth StroutElizabeth Strout was born in Portland, Maine, and grew up in small towns in Maine and New Hampshire. An award-winning novelist, Strout won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel “Olive Kitteridge“.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Literary fiction, Throwback Thursday, Women's fiction and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Throwback Thursday – “My name is Lucy Barton”

  1. macalder02 says:

    I live in Venezuela and for control of change, it is problematic to access new books abroad. Your summaries are going to make up for that lack. I imagine you will be a writer because your narrative is great. So much so, that if I want to complete the story, it will be easy to imagine.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This DOES sound like an excellent read! I haven’t read anything by Elizabeth Strout (although I’ve certainly heard of her) so I’m very much looking forward to being introduced to a new author after reading your review. I’ll definitely be adding this to my TBR list. Thanks so much for the recommendation. I’ve also heard good things about her linked short story collection Olive Kitteridge. I just looked up her titles in our library catalogue and see that there’s a short story collection sequel to My Name is Lucy Barton called Anything is Possible. Have you read this?


    • No Dorothy, I haven’t read the sequel short story collection. I did watch Olive Kitteridge on television and it was very well done. It starred Frances McDormand. (Glad you got the comment problem worked out.♥)


  3. Robert says:

    I hope the novel is good for fathers and son too!


  4. Stephanie says:

    I loved this book! I listened to it as an audiobook and it was just wonderful to listen too–as you said it’s like the characters are talking to you and that really came across in the audio. Wonderful pick for Throwback Thursday!


  5. Sandra says:

    Already on my tbr. I really must get around to it!


  6. skyecaitlin says:

    This book sounds wonderful; it reminds me a little of White Oleander.

    Liked by 1 person

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