My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout REVIEW

My Name is Lucy BartonMy Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Published by Penguin
Published 4 February 2016 (first published 6 January 2016)
196 pages
Digital library book

Author website

NB: I’ve decided to read all of the books long-listed for the Man Booker this year. Other book blogs do this so it seems like a good idea. 



An exquisite story of mothers and daughters from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge.

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 faltering 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. In My Name Is Lucy Barton, one of America’s finest writers shows how a simple hospital visit illuminates the most tender relationship of all-the one between mother and daughter.


There was a time, and it was many years ago now, when I had to stay in hospital for almost nine weeks.


I really loved My Name Is Lucy Barton. It’s a short, wonderfully written novel. A casual glance could easily lead to an impression that nothing much happens and the characters are rather flat. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a book about the complex relationships between a mother and her daughter. I loved the way the novel is written, in the first person with Lucy telling us her story. I liked the way the narrative moves from the present with Lucy in hospital then back to the past exploring her kind of crappy childhood and gradually moves forward from her stay in hospital. Lucy and her mother do not have an easy relationship. They are like strangers at times and its clear Lucy wants to get as far away from her mother and siblings as possible. Despite this, she clearly loves her mother and her reaction to events later in the novel is incredibly sad. My Name Is Lucy Barton is not a novel for people who like lots of twists and turns and action as it’s much gentler. It’s the kind of novel that makes you fall completely in love with the characters and the world they inhabit. I do like intense novels but now and again I like a big softie. I’d highly recommend this quiet, beautiful novel.




One Comment Add yours

  1. philshanklin says:

    I also really enjoyed reading this. It was one of the early books I read on the Man Booker longlist, but then I read the shorlisted “Hot Milk” by Deborah Levy, which is also largely an exploration of the relationship between mother and daughter and I thought this was an even stronger book. Maybe that is why “Lucy Barton” missed out on the shortlist.

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