REVIEW: MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON, BY ELIZABETH STROUT

26155161

 

 

 

From the very beginning of My Name Is Lucy Barton, the reader can sense the emotional neediness of Lucy, our first person narrator. She tells her story in fits and starts, which sweeps back and forth through time.

The impetus for her narrative was Lucy’s hospitalization some time in the 1980s, when an appendectomy resulted in some complications. Unexpectedly, her mother has flown to be by her side, after never having done such a thing in the past. She has come all the way from the farming town of Amgash, Illinois. One could wonder what prompted the visit, but nothing about the mother’s motives are revealed. Theirs is not a loving relationship and never has been. Could the mother have been reaching out, but felt unable to express her need to connect?

The two converse in a rather strange fashion, with Lucy’s mother relaying bits and pieces of information about the townsfolk, as if trying to relate to Lucy in a meaningful way. But everything said between them seems superficial, and whenever Lucy tries to probe for more information, her mother shuts down.

We learn from Lucy’s reflections about growing up as an outsider, looked down upon by other kids in school. Being laughed at for her clothes and where they lived, which was a garage for a while, and then later, a broken down house.

Even now, years later, Lucy’s feeling of being different or less than comes through, although she had a somewhat normal life at the time of her mother’s visit, with a husband and two daughters. She had even attended college on a scholarship…and has a fledgling writing career. A career that takes off later in our story.

The meandering style of the narrative has an autobiographical nature to it, with Lucy trying to make sense of her life, her feelings, and her choices. While I found Lucy’s thoughts and feelings interesting and reflective of a life raised in poverty with the hint of some abuse and neglect, nothing is actually stated clearly. Much is left unsaid. Almost as if the emotional impoverishment of the characters stifled the expression of their experiences. The story left me unfulfilled, in terms of Lucy’s issues, as if more information was just waiting to be brought forth, but somehow was lost in translation. Therefore, 4 stars.

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “REVIEW: MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON, BY ELIZABETH STROUT

  1. I thought Olive Kitteridge was ok (so many bloggers LOVED it) but want to see the mini-series. I might enjoy it more. Not sure I’ll get to this book but maybe. I appreciate your thoughts on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mary, sometimes I do love a series or a movie more than the book. I’m not rushing out to read Olive Kitteridge for that reason. I suspect this is one of those instances when the book will not be as good (to me). I enjoyed My Name is Lucy Barton, but not enough to rush out and read other books by the author.

      Like

  2. Nice job with the review. I read this one, and it is a hard one to place; as you said things are unstated a lot. I agree parts are neat and parts are unfulfilling. It’s a strange little, somewhat sad book — of a family in poverty that needed more love among its members. Rough.

    Liked by 1 person

Please leave your thoughts. Comments, not awards, feed my soul. Thanks!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s