About the Book:
A heart-wrenching story of mothers and daughters from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge.
A mother comes to visit her daughter in hospital after having not seen her in many years. Her unexpected visit forces Lucy to confront her past, uncovering long-buried memories of a profoundly impoverished childhood; and her present, as the façade of her new life in New York begins to crumble, awakening her to the reality of her faltering marriage and her unsteady journey towards becoming a writer.
From Lucy’s hospital bed, we are drawn ever more deeply into the emotional complexity of family life, the inescapable power of the past, and the memories – however painful – that bind a family together.
Published by Penguin Random House Australia
Released October 2016
I attended Elizabeth Strout’s session at MWF Digital a few years back and since then, have been steadily picking up copies of her books as I see them. But Bronwyn, over at Brona’s Books, is the one who finally gave me the prompt to read one with her recent review of Lucy by the Sea, and here we are, first one done and dusted. What a marvel Elizabeth Strout is, and what a character she has created in Lucy Barton.
It’s hard to describe what this novel is about. A young woman telling her story from a hospital bed? Hardly inspires a literary pulse. But essentially, that’s what it is. But of course, it’s also so much more. It’s a story of a woman who has left her poverty stricken and abusive rural childhood behind, at least physically, but emotionally, she is very much still tethered to it. As she recovers in hospital from a long illness and is visited for a week by her mother, their conversations, along with Lucy’s introspection and reflections on different encounters from both the past and the present, form a picture of who Lucy is, how she came to be living in New York with two daughters and a husband, estranged from her family, and where she might be headed.
It’s a deeply personal novel. The power of it lays in what is left unsaid, the things Lucy can’t say, but only allude to. And yet, despite its gravity, it’s also incredibly uplifting. I loved Lucy’s voice, her strength and her vulnerability. I’ll definitely be reading the rest of this series sooner rather than later. Thanks Bron!
Book 18 in my 22 in 2022 challenge.