Best Book of the Week!
Lucy Barton grew up very poor in rural Illinois. She looks back to a time as a young married woman, living in New York City with her husband and two daughters and learning to write. At the time, she had not returned to her parents’ house since she went to college. Something horrible associated with her father is hinted at.
Much of Lucy’s story centers around a stay in the hospital, where for some weeks she has an undiagnosed illness. Her husband can’t bear hospitals, so he asks her mother to come. Her mother stays with her, never leaving her room and refusing to use the cot the nurses provide. During this visit, her mother tells her stories about people they both know.
For much of their lives, Lucy’s family has been outcasts. At school other children complained that they smelled funny. For many years, they lived in a garage with exposure to extreme cold and no access to running water. When she was a little girl and both her parents were at work, her older siblings at school, her parents would lock her into her father’s truck. One time a snake was in there with her. These are some of the horrors of Lucy’s childhood.
My Name Is Lucy Barton is an affecting story about a woman learning to deal with her own past and loving people despite it. The novel is also about becoming a writer.
Strout’s prose is wonderful as usual, picking out the little details of life that make her prose so convincing. I delight in Strout’s depictions of ordinary life and people.