Book Review: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Lucy Barton recalls her stint of being stuck in the hospital and visiting with her mother, from whom she has been long estranged.
Thereâ€™s an episode of How I Met Your Mother where the gang accuses Ted Mosby of being an â€œI love you slut.â€ In his search for a wife, heâ€™s always so fast and desperate to say those words.
I feel the same way about Lucy Barton. Every other sentence seems to reads like this: â€œThe doctor took my temperature kindly. I loved him for that.â€ â€œMy neighbor insulted me. I loved him.â€ â€œThe nurse let me borrow the phone. I loved her for that.â€
Good gravy, Lucy, can you stop loving every person for every move they make? Maybe this is supposed to show the depressing lack of affection in her life, that the smallest gesture moves mountains within her. But she needs to cool it.
This book is just not my cup of tea. It made it to The Morning Newsâ€™ shortlist in the 2017 Tournament of Books. Why?? I don’t get it. Itâ€™s full of Lucy and her mother gossipping, and Lucy talking about how she likes…no, loves practically everyone who crosses her path.
I thought immediately this would be one of those “5 meaningful and tear-stained conversations you have with angels while you die” types of books.
I was positive the mother was already dead and it was her ghost visiting Lucy. And then I wondered if they were both dead and Lucy was recalling her time in purgatory from heaven.
Iâ€™m glad I was wrong and the plot didnâ€™t venture down the good ship lollipop path. But without that twist…Iâ€™m left with a womanâ€™s recollections of gossipping with her mom and some other inane interactions she has with random side people who arenâ€™t important to the story. Am I missing something?
Iâ€™ve chatted with others on Goodreads, and there definitely are fans of My Name is Lucy Barton.
Iâ€™ll chalk it up to personal taste. For me, this was like eating those bland wafers that kind of lay on your tongue until you choke it down.