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My Name Is Lucy Barton
Cover of My Name Is Lucy Barton
My Name Is Lucy Barton
A Novel
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the tender relationship between mother and daughter in this extraordinary novel by the Pulitzer Prize–winning...
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the tender relationship between mother and daughter in this extraordinary novel by the Pulitzer Prize–winning...
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  • #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the tender relationship between mother and daughter in this extraordinary novel by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys.

    Soon to be a Broadway play starring Laura Linney produced by Manhattan Theatre Club and London Theatre Company • LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • The New York Times Book Review • NPR • BookPage • LibraryReads • Minneapolis Star Tribune • St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    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.

    Praise for My Name Is Lucy Barton

    “A quiet, sublimely merciful contemporary novel about love, yearning, and resilience in a family damaged beyond words.”The Boston Globe

    “It is Lucy’s gentle honesty, complex relationship with her husband, and nuanced response to her mother’s shortcomings that make this novel so subtly powerful.”San Francisco Chronicle

    “A short novel about love, particularly the complicated love between mothers and daughters, but also simpler, more sudden bonds . . . It evokes these connections in a style so spare, so pure and so profound the book almost seems to be a kind of scripture or sutra, if a very down-to-earth and unpretentious one.”Newsday

    “Spectacular . . . Smart and cagey in every way. It is both a book of withholdings and a book of great openness and wisdom. . . . [Strout] is in supreme and magnificent command of this novel at all times.”—Lily King, The Washington Post

    “An aching, illuminating look at mother-daughter devotion.”—People

Excerpts-

  • From the cover There was a time, and it was many years ago now, when I had to stay in a hospital for almost nine weeks. This was in New York City, and at night a view of the Chrysler Building, with its geometric brilliance of lights, was directly visible from my bed. During the day, the building’s beauty receded, and gradually it became simply one more large structure against a blue sky, and all the city’s buildings seemed remote, silent, far away. It was May, and then June, and I remember how I would stand and look out the window at the sidewalk below and watch the young women—my age—in their spring clothes, out on their lunch breaks; I could see their heads moving in conversation, their blouses rippling in the breeze. I thought how when I got out of the hospital I would never again walk down the sidewalk without giving thanks for being one of those people, and for many years I did that—I would remember the view from the hospital window and be glad for the sidewalk I was walking on.

    To begin with, it was a simple story: I had gone into the hospital to have my appendix out. After two days they gave me food, but I couldn’t keep it down. And then a fever arrived. No one could isolate any bacteria or figure out what had gone wrong. No one ever did. I took fluids through one IV, and antibiotics came through another. They were attached to a metal pole on wobbly wheels that I pushed around with me, but I got tired easily. Toward the beginning of July, whatever problem had taken hold of me went away. But until then I was in a very strange state—a literally feverish waiting—and I really agonized. I had a husband and two small daughters at home; I missed my girls terribly, and I worried about them so much I was afraid it was making me sicker. When my doctor, to whom I felt a deep attachment—he was a jowly-faced Jewish man who wore such a gentle sadness on his shoulders, whose grandparents and three aunts, I heard him tell a nurse, had been killed in the camps, and who had a wife and four grown children here in New York City—this lovely man, I think, felt sorry for me, and saw to it that my girls—they were five and six—could visit me if they had no illnesses. They were brought into my room by a family friend, and I saw how their little faces were dirty, and so was their hair, and I pushed my IV apparatus into the shower with them, but they cried out, “Mommy, you’re so skinny!” They were really frightened. They sat with me on the bed while I dried their hair with a towel, and then they drew pictures, but with apprehension, meaning that they did not interrupt themselves every minute by saying, “Mommy, Mommy, do you like this? Mommy, look at the dress of my fairy princess!” They said very little, the younger one especially seemed unable to speak, and when I put my arms around her, I saw her lower lip thrust out and her chin tremble; she was a tiny thing, trying so hard to be brave. When they left I did not look out the window to watch them walk away with my friend who had brought them, and who had no children of her own.

    My husband, naturally, was busy running the household and also busy with his job, and he didn’t often have a chance to visit me. He had told me when we met that he hated hospitals—his father had died in one when he was fourteen—and I saw now that he meant this. In the first room I had been assigned was an old woman dying next to me; she kept calling out for help—it was striking to me how uncaring the nurses were, as she cried that she was dying. My husband could not stand it—he could not stand visiting me there, is what I mean—and he had...

About the Author-

  • Elizabeth Strout is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Olive Kitteridge, winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Olive, Again, an Oprah’s Book Club pick; Anything Is Possible, winner of the Story Prize; My Name is Lucy Barton, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize; The Burgess Boys, named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post and NPR; Abide with Me, a national bestseller; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the International Dublin Literary Award, and the Orange Prize. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker and O: The Oprah Magazine. Elizabeth Strout lives in New York City.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Sometimes there's an echo of Strout's inimitable Olive Kitteridge in Lucy Barton's mother, and what a gift that is. This story of family, poverty, aspirations, and obstacles is immediately gripping, thanks to the combination of Strout's high-quality prose and Kimberly Farr's nearly flawless performance. When the title character is hospitalized for an extended time, her heretofore estranged mother visits; their conversations provide the backbone for memorable vignettes of the past and the present. Farr captures Lucy's clear-eyed outlook, which rises above any self-pity or melodrama. The conversations Lucy has with her peppery mother are so believable that one becomes immersed in the production. Some narrative gaps exist--but the same could be said for life itself. L.B.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 19, 2015
    Despite its slim length, Strout’s (The Burgess Boys) tender and moving novel should be read slowly, to savor the depths beneath what at first seems a simple story of a mother-daughter reconciliation. Lucy Barton is shocked when her mother, from whom she’s been estranged for years, flies from tiny Amgash, Ill., to be at Lucy’s hospital bedside in New York. Convalescing from a postsurgery infection, Lucy is tentative about making conversation, gently inquiring about people back home while avoiding the real reason why there’s been no contact with her parents. Strout develops the story in short chapters in which the reader intuits the emotional complexity of Lucy’s life as she reveals long-buried memories of an isolated, profoundly impoverished childhood and the sexual secrets, “the knowledge of darkness,” that shrouded her life. Though her mother calls her Wizzle, an endearing childhood name that implies warmth and closeness, she is unable to tell Lucy that she loves her. Running counter to the memories of her harsh, stoic upbringing
    is Lucy’s anguish at missing her own
    two daughters, waiting for her at home. Lucy also reflects on other cruelties of
    life in New York City, specifically the scourge of AIDS (the setting is the 1980s) and the underlying troubles of her marriage. Her narrative voice is restrained yet expressive. This masterly novel’s message, made clear in the moving denouement, is that sometimes in order to express love, one has to forgive. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Literary Agency.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 29, 2016
    Author Strout and reader Farr have produced a masterly fusion of material that could easily have become maudlin but never does. It is a simple, yet deep depiction of the fierce love and intense pain of a mother-daughter relationship. At the request of her unavailable husband, Lucy’s mother, whom she has not seen for many years, comes to sit beside the bed of her hospitalized daughter. Lucy speaks openly of the poverty and shame of her childhood, and the family dynamics emerge beneath the dialogue and in the silences between the lines. Listeners reel with Lucy’s shifting moods, her intense love for her own two daughters, her loneliness, and her growing insight into her family dynamics. Strout has written so beautifully of the inseparable bond between mother and daughter that listeners will be compelled to contemplate their own childhood in a new light. A Random House hardcover.

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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Elizabeth Strout
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