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My Name Is Lucy Barton
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2017 TOB -The Books > My Name is Lucy Barton

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Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 444 comments It will be interesting to see how this does in tournament play. I loved it, but I thought it felt like a writing exercise, and given that her next book concerns characters mentioned in Lucy Barton, I haven't changed my mind on that.


Michelle | 155 comments It was just okay for me. I can't see it beating out any of the contenders I read so far except Sweet Lamb of Heaven


message 4: by Meg (new) - rated it 3 stars

Meg (gemgt) | 9 comments I enjoyed the writing, enjoyed the book, but a month after reading it, that's all I remember. That and the very bare bones - I can tell you her mom comes to visit her in the hospital, but nothing else. For that reason, I would pick a lot of the other books over this one.

However, the judges are probably making their selections immediately after reading a book, I'm guessing. So they won't be able to tell what they think or remember about a book a few weeks down the line.


Trish | 33 comments Although I enjoyed the book, I also found it frustrating. The way it circles around the dysfunction of Lucy's childhood without explicitly going there. I still don't really understand why Lucy's mom told her to leave when she came to visit. I understand why Lucy and her dad's relationship would be fraught, but not really the mom's rejection, especially since the mom made such an effort to comfort Lucy at her time of need. Anyone have insight here?


Beth Dean (readremark) | 29 comments I juuuuust couldn't get into it. I think I missed the magic that others seem to have gotten from it.


message 7: by jo (new) - rated it 5 stars

jo | 429 comments let me be a departure in this thread. i found this book an utter masterpiece of writing, emotional depth, and family history. i have already gifted it and will gift it for years to come. and i have read it twice, back to back, and can't wait to read it again.


Julie (julnol) | 109 comments You beat me to it Jo! I am 100% with you. For all those long winded narratives that cause you to start to skim, this was the opposite as you savoured every word.

From my review : "The language had a poignant simplicity, with an economy of words but a depth of insight. In so many ways we got to know and understand Lucy Barton by what was unwritten, subtleties that resonated after the narrative had moved on. This was a novel that provoked thought and discussion. Even though the book lacked sentimentality, it made you feel a tender concern for Lucy, an ingenue finding her way through life and love".

I voted for Lucy in my zombie vote and Iwould love it to take home the Rooster


message 9: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy (asawatzky) | 1590 comments Yup. I'm with Jo and Julie! But I think I also brought a ton of my own familial history along to fill in those beautiful (epic) blanks in the story. So much is unsaid while deeply felt. I know that strange feeling of joy described in just being in the presence of someone despite feeling completely alien to them.


message 10: by jo (new) - rated it 5 stars

jo | 429 comments absolute masterpiece of restraint, love, and longing.


JenniferD (booktrovert) | 863 comments i am also in your company, jo, julie and amy! :)

i read this novel when it came out last year and haven't yet reread it. but i connected so personally with this story and found it incredibly moving and wonderful. it was a 5-star read for me last year (i only had 3 in total).


message 12: by Bryn (Plus Others) (last edited Mar 01, 2017 12:06PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryn (Plus Others) (brynplusplus) | 94 comments I am yet another reader who identified so strongly with some aspects of Lucy's story that I find it difficult to judge the craft of it -- I spent the last quarter of the book crying as Lucy approaches and backs off again and again from saying the thing she cannot say about her childhood, and by the end I wanted very much to write her and tell her how much her 'memoir' meant to me. Very powerful, but obviously it did not work for a lot of readers, so I am curious to see how it fares in the tournament.


message 13: by jo (new) - rated it 5 stars

jo | 429 comments it's interesting to me that those who love this book most -- at least the tiny sample contained in this thread -- are connecting it to their own personal experience. have you guys read Olive Kitteridge? it's about abysmal motherhood (among other things, but this is prominent), with profound compassion for the mother, even though, and i think this is stunning, strout doesn't give us basically any reason to be compassionate toward the mother. the mother in OK is kind of like the mother here, remote and detached, though somehow needing and wanting to be present. i do not relate to this, though i do relate to the general issue of a fucked up childhood. amy says it beautifully: " I know that strange feeling of joy described in just being in the presence of someone despite feeling completely alien to them." i do not know this joy. at all. but the book does a fantastic job of making me feel it.

i gave this to my psychoanalyst and she loved it.

what happened to that other book strout wrote, about those brothers? my guess is that she felt some pressure to follow up on OK but wasn't quite ready to write another novel? those are the things i puzzle at night when i'm not sleeping.


Ruthiella | 329 comments I really enjoyed Lucy Barton. I think that Strout left a lot of intentional gaps in the narrative (I for one am not even sure if the mother was really there in the hospital room) that certain readers were able to fill with their own experience as others have pointed out above.

I have read both Olive Kittredge and The Burgess Boys and I liked Lucy Barton the best, although that might just be me learning to appreciate Strout’s genius as a writer. I feel like that happened with me and Anne Tyler after the fourth book of hers that I read.


Kristel (kristelh) | 27 comments I enjoyed the book and I like Elizabeth Strout's writing. I, too, often wondered if the mother was really there and I wondered why anyone would be in a hospital 9 weeks. Not even in the time before cell phones were people in hospitals that long. It was strange. I felt that she might have had a mental breakdown. I liked that there was so much left unknown. I liked the story of how we are still connected to our parents even when our parents were horrid and how much we want them even when they are so abysmal. I also like the side story of being a writer.


message 16: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy (asawatzky) | 1590 comments @Jo - I went 7 years without speaking to my mother (which as a consequence meant nearly my entire extended family) so I was definitely applying my own context to Lucy.


Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 444 comments Ruthiella wrote: "I really enjoyed Lucy Barton. I think that Strout left a lot of intentional gaps in the narrative (I for one am not even sure if the mother was really there in the hospital room) that certain reade..."

I think your comparison to Anne Tyler is an apt one. They're both quiet, subtle writers that grow on the reader over time.

I'm excited that Strout has a new book out this year that centers on characters mentioned in Lucy Barton.


Gayla Bassham (sophronisba) | 156 comments This is one of my favorite books in the Tournament, of the ones I've read. I was fascinated by Lucy as a character and I love the way Strout writes. (Olive Kitteridge is one of my favorite books, although I always think of it as more about marriage than parenthood.)


Katie | 127 comments I loved this book so much. I liked it more than Olive Kitteridge which was good but not great for me. There was just a quiet depth to this book. I think the strained personal relationship I've had with my mom plays a piece and being a mom plays a piece.


message 20: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 20, 2017 09:51AM) (new)

Julie wrote: "For all those long winded narratives that cause you to start to skim, this was the opposite as you savoured every word."

Amy wrote: "... I also brought a ton of my own familial history along to fill in those beautiful (epic) blanks in the story. So much is unsaid while deeply felt."

jo wrote: "absolute masterpiece of restraint, love, and longing."

Yes to all of that, Julie, Amy, and Jo! This is the gem I have been hoping to find among the ToB contenders! I hope it goes far in the tournament.


message 21: by jo (new) - rated it 5 stars

jo | 429 comments Katie wrote: "I loved this book so much. I liked it more than Olive Kitteridge which was good but not great for me. There was just a quiet depth to this book. I think the strained personal relationship I've had ..."

it's amazing. i am afraid it's too quiet and short to win, but so far, i think, it's the most beautiful book of the ones i've read.


Daniel Sevitt | 80 comments I really loved Olive Kitteridge. This one came and went without leaving much of an impression for me. It felt like notes for a novel rather than the novel itself.


AmberBug com* | 444 comments This is my first Strout and it feels extremely sentimental to me without the depth I like. None of the stories delve further than the surface with hints at something more.

To be honest, as short as this book was, it was a struggle for me to stay with it and not skip to the next tournament book. However, I did stay with it and it just didn't do it for me. I wonder if it's because I'm not a mother? I am a daughter with a strained relationship with her mother, so I thought that would have connected me.... ah well, to each their own.


message 24: by Drew (new) - rated it 2 stars

Drew (drewlynn) | 416 comments Daniel wrote: "I really loved Olive Kitteridge. This one came and went without leaving much of an impression for me. It felt like notes for a novel rather than the novel itself."

Ditto. I felt some emotional connection to this book because I had a strained relationship with my parents too plus my mom died a little over a year ago. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to overcome the pointless rambling. (And it pains me to say that since I loved OK so much.)


Sarah Tittle | 49 comments Drew wrote: "Daniel wrote: "I really loved Olive Kitteridge. This one came and went without leaving much of an impression for me. It felt like notes for a novel rather than the novel itself."

Ditto. I felt som..."


Strout is an incredible writer, no doubt, and head and shoulders above so many others. However, I felt very removed from this book. I think it's because the narrator was so detatched. There were some really moving moments, but I found the pacing really distracting. If it all took place in the hospital, that would have felt complete and satisfying to me--a nice way to frame the story. But the author strays to the future and I'm not sure why or where she's taking me. I also felt like this was more of a novella stretched into a novel--and not effectively.


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