Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016 Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton is a powerful novel of a woman coming to terms with her less than conventional upbringing.
We join Strout’s protagonist – Lucy – in hospital where her mother, after years of non-commincation, comes to visit her. The narrative is told in the first person and flits between the past and present of the protagonist’s – Lucy’s – life.
Despite its 190 pages there is no way of summarising this novel and doing it justice! Strout’s ability to describe a difficult mother daughter relationship is extremely powerful. We never truly understand whether there was one ‘big’ issue between the characters however, the reader is taken on a journey of Lucy’s childhood where neglect, austerity and isolation heavily feature. Just on the memories recounted, the reader can understand why Lucy distanced herself from her family.
That being said, Lucy is still a daughter in need of her mother’s love. Lucy’s devastating acceptance of her mother’s reluctance to display any love or affection to her (aside from referring to her childhood nickname) is discreetly emotive. Her mother’s indifference made me think for the first half of the book that she was actually dead and Lucy was imagining her at her bedside – when she needed her the most. This transpired to be incorrect. Such was the realism behind Strout’s prose.
I adored this book and it has made me want to read Strout’s earlier works. Have you read Olive Kitteridge? Did you read this book? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Recommended for: anyone who thinks they have a difficult relationship with their mother!
Favourite quote: “…the books brought me things. This is my point. They made me feel less alone. This is my point. And I thought: I will write and people will not feel so alone!“
Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoyed it!