My name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Published: January 12th 2016 by Random House
Genre: Fiction, Literary fiction, contemporary
That’s the first word that comes to mind. Yet in a beautiful and fragile way. But somber.
“In the dark, I asked my mother quietly if she was awake. Oh yes, she answered. Quietly. Even though it was only the two of us in this hospital room with the Chrysler building shining at the window, we still whispered as though someone could be disturbed.”
This is my first encounter with Elizabeth Strouts writing and I believe I have found something special. Her writing is beautiful and flows so perfectly in an almost poetic kind of way. I absolutely adored her way of writing and the spirit of it all.
I didn’t find the story particularly interesting though. Lucy Barton is recovering in the hospital and her mother comes to visit for a few days and they gossip about the marriages of the people they know. There is a surface tension of tender loving care that never quite breaks. And while that part is excellently done, I’m still a little bored.
I’m bored because I don’t find these things interesting at all, and my mother tells stories just like them about people I actually do know and I don’t find it interesting then either.
“I stopped listening. It was the sound of my mother’s voice I most wanted; what she said didn’t matter.”
I stop in the middle of her pages, in between her writing, like silences between thoughts. This book is so quiet. I’ve never encountered any book that has captured the sentiment of silence like this. Every scene felt so real to me. Even how her mind works, spoke to me.
It’s both a short and a long read, maybe because I took long silent pauses where I just stopped to take in what was said. I had to feel the words. But it’s a short 193 pages.
If you’re the kind of person who adores words and can appreciate a deeper connection to them, then this is for you. But if you’re a story driven reader I’m not sure this is what I would put in your hands. I’m the former, and I adored it.
“I have no idea if she kissed me goodbye, but I cannot think she would have. I have no memory of my mother ever kissing me. She may have kissed me though; I may be wrong.”