Friday, December 30, 2016

My Name is Lucy Barton

My Name is Lucy Barton
Elizabeth Strout

My Name Is Lucy Barton

Genre: Fiction

Summary (from Goodreads): 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 lies 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.

Review: I feel like this is the kind of book that will be described as insightful and brilliant, contemplative and poignant, but I'm afraid that I just didn't get it.  It probably would have helped if I had read it when I was healthy, instead of reading it while I had a sinus infection that left my brain feeling like it was floating in a cloud.  I think the reader needs to be in full possession of her faculties to absorb all the intricacies of this book.

The plot is simple - Lucy spends nine weeks in the hospital recovering from illness, feeling lonely and bored because she has few visitors.  Her estranged mother comes to visit for a few days, staying by her bedside the entire time and gossiping about acquaintances from their hometown.  That's the entire plot.  Strout takes the reader inside Lucy's head, reminiscing about her childhood, her early adulthood, and even times after her hospital stay.  I found it confusing that Lucy jumped around in time so much, and I wish she had provided more detailed recollections, especially for major life events.  She admits that she was abused, but we don't find out why; she seems to have a troubled relationship with her husband, but we don't exactly find out why or when that starts; at the end, we realize that she doesn't have the best relationship with her daughters, but again, we don't know why.  I had a lot of questions, and the book didn't provide many answers.  Having said that, I liked Lucy's voice; I enjoyed her realistic vagueness about some memories; I appreciated her way of talking as if to a friend.  I think there was probably a deeper level to appreciate this book, and I didn't get there.

It probably didn't help that I checked this out from the library, renewed it the maximum amount of times, and thought I lost it.  I looked all over the house and the car and was resigned to paying the library for it, when Amelia found it in her collection of books in her room.  So now I have to take it back to the library and pay about $10 in overdue fines.  For a book I didn't understand.  It's frustrating...

Rating: 3 stars

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