My Name Is Lucy Barton is a 2016 novel by Elizabeth Strout. I read Olive Kitteredge, and I will continue to pick up other books by this author as I come across them.
from the back of the book:
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 lie 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. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.The New York Times concludes a positive review with this:
There is not a scintilla of sentimentality in this exquisite novel. Instead, 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.Washington Post opens with this:
“There was a time, and it was many years ago now,” Elizabeth Strout’s slim and spectacular new novel begins, “when I had to stay in a hospital for almost nine weeks.” And it feels like she is going to tell us a story, the old-fashioned, uncomplicated kind. But only for a little while. “My Name Is Lucy Barton” is smart and cagey in every way.The Guardian closes by saying this: My Name Is Lucy Barton confirms Strout as a powerful storyteller immersed in the nuances of human relationships, weaving family tapestries with compassion, wisdom and insight. If she hadn’t already won the Pulitzer for Olive Kitteridge, this new novel would surely be a contender." The Chicago Tribune says, "Strout, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Olive Kitteridge" and other highly praised novels, has always awed us with her ability to put into words the mysterious and unfathomable ways in which people cherish each other." The book was the subject of one of Diane Rehm's programs. Kirkus Reviews says, "Fiction with the condensed power of poetry: Strout deepens her mastery with each new work, and her psychological acuity has never required improvement."
Some novels, regardless of their relationship to actual events, feel true. It's like something gentle has taken you to one side, where things you already half-knew but couldn't articulate are finally explained to you. You feel relief, you feel understood, you feel realer, even. You think, that's it. That's what life is like. My Name is Lucy Barton renders familiar universal tensions — family, sickness, money — quietly and aptly. It's a true novel.I read it as part of my book challenge for this year. It's listed on the NPR site as one of the best books of 2016.