I’m thrilled to continue my AtoZ Blogging challenge with another of outstanding writer, Elizabeth Strout, who
This is the blurb
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.
My name is Lucy Barton isn’t an easy novel to read and much less to review. There’s no traditional plot, a confusing time-line, plenty of gaps in Lucy’s erratic story, and very little by way of characterisation.
The novel is about a writer, Lucy Barton’s, disjointed memories regarding her deprived childhood and dysfunctional family, mainly told with tense and sometimes unnerving conversations with her mother, while she’s in hospital, much later in life.
The timelines are blurred, as we learn that although she’s a successful novelist, she is a lonely and emotionally damaged person. After her first marriage broke up, she remarried and abandoned her family in search of ‘herself’. Her daughters never visit and don’t seem to have a close relationship with her, but strangely, it doesn’t seem to bother her.
There were times I wondered where the novel was going, as there was no plot or chronological order to help me find my bearings, yet I kept on reading, because it was well-written and I expected some sort of a plot might develop, but it didn’t.
When I finished, l realised it’s not about plot, or even character. It’s about the inexplicable and existential quality of life.
Lucy was born with a tragic destiny: the futile and obsessive search for the meaning of her life. The novel hints that this obsession was due to her loveless and emotionally and financially impoverished family. She has difficulty loving herself or anyone else, even her own children.
Lucy left her poor, narrow-minded and cruel family thanks to a scholarship, years later, she left her own family, still in search of herself and the elusive meaning of life. She’s trying to ‘find peace’ with herself through writing, but there’s a limit to the power of so much introspection. In the end, you’re responsible for your own choices and your own happiness or unhappiness.
I ended up not liking Lucy very much and feeling very little sympathy for her, because she could have done so much more to improve her own life and her relationship with her daughters and her husbands.
It certainly gave me a great deal to think about, especially regarding the art of writing a novel, because Elizabeth Strout breaks all the rules to great effect! It’s the kind of novel I’m sure I’ll read again, at a later date.
It is a short read and it’s the kind of novel that really benefits from listening to the audiobook. The narrator, Kimberly Farr, does a really excellent job, because she reads each page with the appropriate rhythm and pace to Lucy’s changing moods. I could imagine Lucy as I listened. I’m sure I would have been more confused, especially at the beginning, if I had read the paper or kindle version.
My Name is Lucy Barton, is especially for readers who enjoy complex, almost experimental, literary novels, which explore a character’s psyche intensely.
What? You’ve never read an Audiobook? Here are my 34 reasons why you should be reading audiobooks!
I’ll be reviewing an audiobook a day throughout April, so come back on Monday! There will be a round-up tomorrow!
Would you like to read about the other authors and audiobooks I’ve posted about during the challenge, which started on 1st April? Here they are!
Find out more about this blogging challenge here!