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My Name Is Lucy Barton

(Amgash #1)

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  138,020 ratings  ·  15,054 reviews
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. Her unexpected visit forces Lucy to confront the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of her life: her impoverished childhood in Amgash, Illinois, her escape to New York and her desire to become a writer, her ...more
Hardcover, 193 pages
Published January 12th 2016 by Random House
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Susan Oh my goodness yes, unfortunately. My mother had a terrible time telling me she loved me. Fortunately, my outgoing daughter taught her how to love bef…moreOh my goodness yes, unfortunately. My mother had a terrible time telling me she loved me. Fortunately, my outgoing daughter taught her how to love before she passed away, but relationships like this DO exist. (less)
Melanie M Merritt Why do so many of you think that Lucy's dad was the one who walked around the house masturbating? The book clearly says (from the point of view of som…moreWhy do so many of you think that Lucy's dad was the one who walked around the house masturbating? The book clearly says (from the point of view of someone in another workshop) that it a the father of someone named Janie Templeton.


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Average rating 3.56  · 
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Angela M (On a little break)
When I first started reading this I had the feeling that it was going to be a remarkable story. It is after all written by Elizabeth Strout. I also thought when I first met Lucy Barton that this was going to be a story about an ordinary woman . I was so wrong about that . In this short book I came to know what an extraordinary character Lucy Barton is . She's someone I'd want to know and a character I'll remember.

It's painfully sad at times in her reminiscences of her life growing up in Amgash
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
When I finished this book, I didn’t think I landed in wowsville. But after sticking my nose back into the book, I’m changing my tune. Every page I reread seemed rich and wow-y. So what the hell’s going on? This is all very confusing.

First, here’s the plot, the whole plot, and nothing but the plot: Lucy (the storyteller) is lying in the hospital and her estranged mother comes from afar and sits there for five days. And I really mean she just sits there, except for sharing a few laughs—like giving
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Strout. Good Lord.

This book had the same effect on me as Olive Kitteridge. I'm reading through this beautifully written, way too short novel, and the whole time I'm thinking about my own life and my past and my family and my relationships with others. She takes this simple story, written like a memoir or something, I guess... kind of quick flashes of stories from the past and present, and it's just wonderful. It's so good.

But the whole time as I'm learning more about Lucy, it's like
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I must have read a different version of the book than everyone else. My version was more like notes where each note could have been formed into a chapter and the chapters could have been organized into a story. If it is the actual novel that I just finished, I'm completely missing the point. Sorry. But thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to attempt to understand this novel. ...more
Emily May
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-lit, 2016
This is a story about a woman who loves her daughter. Imperfectly. Because we all love imperfectly.

Depressing as hell. But I enjoyed wallowing in it for a while.

My Name Is Lucy Barton covers a life story, poverty, abuse, art, marriage, the AIDs epidemic and subsequent fear, and a difficult relationship between a mother and daughter, all in less than two hundred pages. It's quite emotionally exhausting for such a short book but - perhaps because I had so few prior expectations - I found myse
Diane S ☔
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am totally in awe of this writer's talents. Whether one likes her characters or not (and truthfully some are unlikable if understandable, she makes the reader feel something. In this novel she takes a woman looking back on the nine weeks she spent in the hospital (I can relate) when her two daughters were young. The few days her mother spent at her bedside, a mother she has been estranged from for many years, and tries to find a sort of peace or at least understanding of the family she has lef ...more
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book! I really can’t stop thinking about this book. What at first felt like a simple, quietly understated series of snapshots of a woman’s life, has turned into a powerful novel that packs its punch through everything that is not spoken. Beautifully expressed with sparse prose, My Name is Lucy Barton left me breathless and, I have to admit, a bit teary by book’s end.

"Lonely was the first flavor I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden inside the crevices of my mouth, remind
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
**Updating this to 5★**I was totally captivated by this soulful, unassuming narrative that packs a punch of emotion. An ordinary story with an extraordinary character. The narrative begins with Lucy Barton reflecting on her life from the hospital bed where she spent 8 weeks after getting an infection from surgery. During this time, her mother whom she is estranged with, visits and stays for 5 meaningful days. She recalls her upbringing - the tough times and fleetingly disturbing moments that are ...more
Dr. Appu Sasidharan
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book tells you the story of Lucy Barton, who is recovering from an operation in the hospital. Her mother comes to visit her and stays with her for some days. The silent chemistry between them is intriguing. Elizabeth Strout marvelously crafts the invisible love and tension between them. It discusses many vital topics like mother-daughter relationships, abuse, poverty, and AIDS both directly and indirectly. This is a book that you can finish reading quickly but makes you think for a long tim ...more
Elyse Walters
Oct 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
UPDATE: It came to my attention I may have given too much 'detail' information. (shame on me)... SPOILERS may be included in review.

Lucy and her family grew up in a tiny rural town of Amgash, Illinois. "We were oddities, our family".
Lucy had a brother and a sister. They all understood that they were different than other
children. "Your family stinks"....(children would tease). The Barton family was poor, often in need of a bar of soap.
The father worked on farm machinery ( fired & rehired often
Jan 24, 2016 rated it liked it
This book is universally loved by my friends and I understand why that is, though I can't embrace this book as others have. I admire the style of it and I acknowledge that the story was deliberately designed and assembled as it was, even though that was the piece that kept me from connecting with it the way others have. There were solid, valuable messages in this gentle story delivered in a tentative and scattered way. At times I felt as though I was listening in on a casual conversation between ...more
Mar 01, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Name is Lucy Barton is beautiful writing and impactful storytelling. It feels like this book is something that one would be more appreciative and grateful for with time and more life experiences. Even though the story is about the love between a daughter and mother, everyone will be able to relate to this as the keywords are ‘love’ and ‘relationship’. Elizabeth Strout so masterfully, delicately, impactfully, and beautifully describes the difficult journey and struggles of Lucy Barton to make ...more
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, ebook, 2016

I had some expectations about My Name Is Lucy Barton and truly wanted to like it more. I liked the premise – difficult relationship between daughter and mother and chance to make amends. I didn’t expect sudden reconciliation or instant falling into arms. I know sometimes people just can’t talk about love, can’t show what they feel. They live quietly, have children. Sometimes these kids understand and can get over it and make own life happy.

I hoped for multilayered portrait of family but it wa
Julie G ("Doctor, my eyes!"  Offline for a week)
I once knew a woman who had two daughters and a penchant for drama. Whenever I'd ask about her daughters, whether it was to inquire about their general health or their progress in school, she'd place her hand over her chest and declare, “one daughter is my heart, the other is my soul.”

It was so over the top, and sometimes I'd throw up in my mouth a little when she said this. To be honest, I never really even understood what in the hell she meant.

Until now.

I understand her proclamation now, and i
Ahmad Sharabiani
My Name Is Lucy Barton (Amgash #1), Elizabeth Strout

My Name is Lucy Barton is a 2016 novel by the American writer Elizabeth Strout. Lucy Barton had a difficult childhood. Her father was abusive and while her mother loved Lucy, she was unable to protect her or her siblings from their father's mercurial mood swings. As a result Lucy would frequently take solace in reading, which led her to realize that she wanted to become a writer. When she came of age, Lucy quickly fled the family home. Years la
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I had the luxury of reading My name Is Lucy Barton in one sitting -- and if you can that's how I highly recommend this very short jewel of a novel be read. It's hard to describe what it's about. At its core it's a contemplative novel -- a novel about trying to make sense of life, trying to see how all the pieces fit together. Lucy Barton spends 9 weeks in the hospital in the 1980s in New York City following complications from a surgery. The story is written many years later, with her time in the ...more
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Pity Us All, We Don't Mean to be So Small"

Lucy's Manhattan hosp. room had breathtaking view of Chrysler Building, and the skyscraper's light at night “shone like the beacon it was of the largest and best hopes for mankind and its aspirations and desire for beauty”

This is the story of Lucy Barton, who grew up in great poverty and suffered her parents’ neglect and abuse in the farmlands of Illinois and went on to became a successful fiction writer in New York City. Poignant and profound on so ma
Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
My Name is Lucy Barton is a short, simple, and quiet story that took me away from the noise and to that quiet place that I love. Just me, my tea and the beautiful powerful words of this magnificent story. The simple and quiet books are starting to become a favourite of mine.

I loved Lucy and her ability to find kindness, her understanding of people, her compassion and how she can see light through all the hurt and darkness of her childhood. I liked how the relationship with her Mother and some th
Iris P

Second 2017 Update
Upgrading my rating from 4 to 5 stars, no idea why I didn't before. Oh, I know, maybe because sometimes I am a dork!

2017 Update
So a funny thing happened to me this weekend. Have you ever had a book "triggered" you to read another book, even if they are not exactly related?
After I finished reading the wonderful Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, I was compelled to re-read My Name Is Lucy Barton, which I originally read almost exactly a year ago.

There are some small similarit
Susan's Reviews
Jul 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was my first introduction to Elizabeth Strout's books, and I was hooked!

Everything about Lucy's life was fascinating: I could not put this book down. Her father's often violent and strange behaviour (triggered by PTSD), their extreme poverty, her mother's stoic endurance - and silence: I loved every minute of this book.

I was struck by Lucy's determination to get herself out of that town. In Strout's later novels dealing with other characters from Lucy's town, Lucy often reappears briefly. S
Sujoya (semi-hiatus till the end of the year)
My Name Is Lucy Barton begins with our narrator, Lucy Barton sharing details about how in New York City in the 1980s, an infection after routine surgery for removing her appendix leads to her being hospitalized for nine weeks. Her estranged mother, whom she hasn’t seen for years, travels to New York City from Amgash, Illinois and stays with her for five days, never leaving her bedside. Her mother’s presence triggers Lucy’s memories of her past, inspires her to reflect on her present and motivate ...more
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
How is it that we can truly know the inner workings of another human being? It's all in the conversations, the dialog, the exchange of thoughts and ideas.....and even in those moments when words, themselves, are not even necessary. We cross swords in games of subterfuge while we clasp tightly to our deepest secrets which we label "ours" and certainly not "theirs".

Lucy Barton is hospitalized with a prolonged illness. Her mother turns up at the foot of her bed quite unexpectantly one evening. Lucy
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: public-library
The ways in which we show our love can be vastly different.  This is illustrated with perfection in this tale.  It's a tender, poignant, and introspective look at relationships and imperfect love.  How quick we are to judge others based on too little, the folly of dreading something which invariably ends up in having to go through it twice.  I loved the way the author put these words together -'...this friend of my soul...' ...more
©hrissie ❁ [1st week on campus-somewhat run-down]
This is spare prose at its finest: 'urgent', 'compressed', elegiac. The first installment of the widely acclaimed Amgash series, My Name is Lucy Barton recounts in fragmented fashion the retrospectively remembered moments from the time when Lucy spent nine weeks in hospital, her austere mother and their meaningful chats becoming a fixture in a narration maimed by the terrors of childhood -- traumas that live on, unnoticed, making experience opaque and circumscribed by that which remains shameful ...more
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
Reading “Olive Kitteridge”, which I loved, might have spoiled me for the rest of Strout's work.
The story of Lucy Barton is not much different from the fragmented but carefully delineated sketches of the townspeople in Crosby, but for the main focus of the story, which in this case centers around Lucy and her strained relationship with her family, particularly with her mother.
A woman with humble origins, whose childhood was marked by poverty, loneliness and possibly abuse, manages to escape from
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A book like this that’s short on words, but rich in meaning begs for a metaphor to describe it. As one I know I can flog, think of Strout’s profile here as an artful little mosaic. She doesn’t use many tiles, but the ones she does display are carefully colored and placed. With enough distance, a picture does emerge. While it may be true that not every reader likes having the space between tiles, for me, squinting and mulling were part of the pleasure. Had the book fully revealed the miseries of ...more
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I listened to this and it augmented the feeling that I was listening in on someone else’s conversation or being part of a one sided conversation. Like a conversation, the book meandered from thought to thought, bringing up different people and past events. This is the trademark of Elizabeth Strout's work, these somewhat interconnected stories.

I had read All Things Are Possible before this book, so a lot of the names felt like familiar old friends whose history I already knew.

Despite her strang
Richard (on hiatus)
I Am Lucy Barton is a book of memories.
As Lucy looks back at her life she focuses on a time when she spent five weeks in hospital after a routine operation hit problems. A time in which she lay in bed and did a lot of thinking about her childhood, her family and her marriage.
Whilst in hospital she was visited by her long estranged mother, who stayed with her for several days. This made her happy ........ as it gave her a glimpse of how their relationship could have been.
Lucy’s internal monologue
Oct 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON is a short 200 page novella jam-packed with emotional substance. It's a story of a daughter who so loves her mother despite her unpleasant childhood, a daughter who so wants the approval and love of her mother in return.

As she recovers from surgery complications, a shocked Lucy receives a five day visit from her estranged mother who can only express her feelings by telling stories of old acquaintances and their imperfect lives; and while listening, Lucy Barton revisits her

A short, subtle story about life through the eyes of a woman, Lucy Barton.

Disclaimer: This book isn't going to satisfy you if you need a conventional plot, with a "story" and a "lesson" and clear explanations.

What it does have, through a dreamy vagueness found in certain types of poetry, is the hard nut of truth about people, poverty, prejudice, kindness, love, and scars of childhood.

Lucy Barton lived in terrible poverty, lived through unuttered abuse as a child. She has never heard her mother s
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Elizabeth Strout is the author of several novels, including: Abide with Me, a national bestseller and BookSense pick, and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. In 2009 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her book Olive Kitteri ...more

Other books in the series

Amgash (4 books)
  • Anything Is Possible
  • Oh William!
  • Lucy by the Sea (Amgash, #4)

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Here at Goodreads World Headquarters, we ascribe to a hivemind system when it comes to books. Science has long known that the best method for...
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“It interests me how we find ways to feel superior to another person, another group of people. It happens everywhere, and all the time. Whatever we call it, I think it’s the lowest part of who we are, this need to find someone else to put down.” 211 likes
“Lonely was the first flavor I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden inside the crevices of my mouth, reminding me.” 84 likes
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