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My Name Is Lucy Barton Hardcover – 4 Feb 2016

3.9 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; 01 edition (4 Feb. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241248779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241248775
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.1 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


A heart-wrenching story of mothers and daughters from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge (Publisher's description)

I am deeply impressed. Writing of this quality comes from a commitment to listening, from a perfect attunement to the human condition, from an attention to reality so exact that it goes beyond a skill and becomes a virtue. I have never read her before and I knew within a few sentences that here was an artist to value and respect (Hilary Mantel)

Strout's best novel yet (Ann Patchett)

An exquisite novel... in its careful words and vibrating silences, My Name Is Lucy Barton offers us a rare wealth of emotion, from darkest suffering to - 'I was so happy. Oh, I was happy' - simple joy (Claire Messud, New York Times Book Review)

So good I got goosebumps... a masterly novel of family ties by one of America's finest writers (Sunday Times)

My Name is Lucy Barton confirms Strout as a powerful storyteller immersed in the nuances of human relationships... Deeply affecting novel...visceral and heartbreaking...If she hadn't already won the Pulitzer for Olive Kitteridge this new novel would surely be a contender (Observer)

Hypnotic...yielding a glut of profoundly human truths to do with flight, memory and longing (Mail on Sunday)

This is a book you'll want to return to again and again and again (Irish Independent)

Slim and spectacular...My Name Is Lucy Barton is smart and cagey in every way. It starts with the clean, solid structure and narrative distance of a fairy tale yet becomes more intimate and improvisational, coming close at times to the rawness of autofiction by writers such as Karl Ove Knausgaard and Rachel Cusk. Strout is playing with form here, with ways to get at a story, yet nothing is tentative or haphazard. She is in supreme and magnificent command of this novel at all times.... (Washington Post)

My Name Is Lucy Barton is a short novel about love, particularly the complicated love between mothers and daughters... It evokes these connections in a style so spare, so pure and so profound the book almost seems to be a kind of scripture or sutra, if a very down-to-earth and unpretentious one (Newsday)

Her concise writing is a masterclass in deceptive simplicity...Strout writes with an exacting rhythm, with each word and clause perfectly placed and weighted and each sentence as clear and bracing as grapefruit. It's a small masterpiece (Daily Mail)

This short, simple, quiet novel wriggles its way right into your heart and stays there (Red)

A beautifully taut novel (Guardian)

Agleam with extraordinary psychological insights...delicate, tender but ruthless reveries (Sunday Express)

An eerie, compelling novel, its deceptively simple language is a 'slight rush of words' which hold much more than they seem capable of containing...This novel is about the need to create a story we can live with when the real story cannot be told... (Financial Times)

Strout uses a different voice herself in this novel: a spare simple one, elegiac in tone that sometimes brings to mind Joan Didion's (The Tablet)

This is a glorious novel, deft, tender and true. Read it (Sunday Telegraph)

An exquisitely written story...a brutally honest, absorbing and emotive read (Catholic Universe)

Honest, intimate and ultimately unforgettable (Stylist)

Sympathetic, subtle and sometimes shocking (Emma Healey)

Plain and beautiful...Strout writes with an extraordinary tenderness and restraint (Kate Summerscale)

One of this year's best novels: an intense, beautiful book about a mother and a daughter, and the difficulty and ambivalence of family life (Marcel Theroux)

Elizabeth Strout's prose is like words doing jazz (Rachel Joyce)

Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge is the best novel I've read for some time (David Nicholls)

An exquisite novel of careful words and vibrating silences (New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books of 2016)

In this quiet, well observed novel, a mother and her mysteriously ill daughter rebuild their relationship in a New York hospital room. Deft and tender, it lingers in the mind (Daily Telegraph Books of the Year)

A worthy follow-up to Olive Kitteridge (David Nicholls Guardian Books of the Year)

I loved My Name is Lucy Barton: she gets better with each book (Maggie O'Farrell Guardian Books of the Year)

The standout novel of the year - a visceral account of the relations between mother and daughter and the unreliability of memory (Linda Grant Guardian Books of the Year)

In a brilliant year for fiction, I've admired the nuanced restraint of Elizabeth Strout's My Name is Lucy Barton (Hilary Mantel Guardian Books of the Year)

Elizabeth Strout's My Name is Lucy Barton shouldn't work, but its frail texture was a triumph of tenderness, and sent me back to her excellent Olive Kitteridge (Cressida Connolly The Spectator)

A rich account of a relationship between mother and daughter, the frailty of memory and the power of healing (Mark Damazer New Statesman)

This physically slight book packs an unexpected emotional punch (Simon Heffer Daily Telegraph)

A novel offering more hope (Daisy Goodwin Daily Mail)

My Name Is Lucy Barton intrigues and pierces with its evocative, skin-peeling back remembrances of growing up dirt-poor. (Ann Treneman The Times)

Masterly (Anna Murphy)

About the Author

Elizabeth Strout is the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge, as well as The Burgess Boys, a New York Times bestseller, Abide With Me and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize. She lives in New York City and Portland, Maine.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By SueKich TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Feb. 2016
Format: Hardcover
Some writers put characters on the page and that’s where they stay. Others write characters who enter one’s head. And then there are the writers who create characters who enter one’s heart. In my view, Elizabeth Strout is one such writer.

Story? Well, hardly any really. Just a woman looking back on the time she was in hospital for nine weeks when her estranged mother came to visit her. “Maybe it was the darkness with only the pale crack of light that came through the door, the constellation of the magnificent Chrysler Building right beyond us, that allowed us to speak in ways we never had.” Even so, what is left unspoken between them is more important than what is said.

This book is quintessential Elizabeth Strout. Lucy, her mother, her doctor, even a prominent author Lucy meets one day in an expensive clothes store she can’t afford to shop in. Every single character is as real as if they are sitting there right opposite you. They break your heart, all of them.
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Format: Hardcover
After loving 'Olive Kitteridge' I was really keen to receive a preview a copy of Elizabeth Strout's latest novel in return for my honest review and was not at all disappointed, finishing it in a single sitting.

Lucy Barton (of the title) comments " I like writers who try to tell you something truthful". On discussing an author she likes, Lucy also says "... her job as a writer of fiction was to report on the human condition, to tell us who we are and what we think and what we do". This is exactly what Strout does within the pages of this novel.

Strout is a master storyteller with a remarkable ability to describe simple everyday moments using plain uncomplicated language, while managing to perfectly capture so much of the complexity and nuance they contain. Her (quite everyday) tales feel so honest and authentic that it is entirely possible to forget they are, in fact, fictitious.

This short (208 page) novel tells the story of a difficult 'mother-daughter' relationship. The protagonist - Lucy Barton - is a successful writer, looking back on a period of five days that took place in the mid-80s when she was hospitalised, and visited by her mother. The tale unfolds via a series of expertly crafted anecdotes - both Lucy's own recollections, and stories her mother shared during her visit.

I feel that to say much more about the story or the characters would be to deprive the reader their own discovery, but suffice to say I found it thoroughly engaging.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I wasn’t that keen on Olive Kitteridge but liked The Burgess Boys, so I was glad to be given the opportunity of reading the author’s new novel. Don’t look here for thrills and excitement; this is a quiet book and a short one.

The story is told mostly in flashbacks to several weeks Lucy spent in hospital, during which, for a few days, her mother sat in a chair at the foot of the bed and talked Or sometimes didn’t. A whole life from a hospital bed. Lucy and her mother haven’t met for several years. There are two narratives here: what Lucy remembers and what Mother says happened. We learn of the dirt poor childhood when the family was shunned and dismissed as ‘trash’. How the clever girl who loved reading got to college and was the only member of her family to leave rural Illinois for the city. She lives in New York, has two daughters she adores, becomes a writer. Yet she can never be completely at ease because her strange childhood deprived her of any knowledge of popular culture. Are her memories unreliable? There are hints of some dark secret but to her mother the family past is perfectly normal.

It’s the writing style which makes this book so different and special. It reminded me of Stevie Smith or Barbara Comyns in that the voice of the book imprints itself on the brain for a while so that you start thinking and writing in the same way.

I read this courtesy of Random House via NetGalley.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The voice that has been created for Lucy Barton is direct, spare and extraordinarilymy-name-is-lucy-barton-elizabeth-strout powerful. There’s a hopeful innocence to the tone of Lucy’s voice during the days she spends in hospital, like that of a child lost in an adult’s body, a child that still craves the parental love that she feels she never received.

In the 1980s Lucy had to stay in hospital for a few weeks due to complications after having her appendix out. As her husband had an aversion to hospitals he arranged for Lucy’s mother to stay with her for a few days. Lucy is surprised as it has been years since she has seen her mother. The reasons for this are gradually drawn out as Lucy reflects on her complicated relationship with her mother.

Lucy recalls her tough childhood in Amgash, Illinois. Her family were impoverished and there was not enough to eat. Lucy and her siblings were bullied because of the poor state of their appearance and their mother was prone to violence when her children crossed her. We learn why Lucy hates being cold and how ignorant she felt about the world outside the family home due to not having any books in the house. There are also darker memories that Lucy is afraid to confront at first, memories that she has never been able to express, memories that made her feel isolated.

Lucy cherishes the time with her mother in the beginning. She is like a dry riverbed, grateful for any droplet of affection as her mother keeps her entertained with the safe topic of neighbourhood gossip. Amidst the gossip are moments of reflective truth shared between mother and daughter, which prompt Lucy to contemplate other areas of her life. Strout touches on the sense of isolation within every person Lucy has known.
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