My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

“Oh… always that telling detail,” (28) the one that makes you stop and take notice, that says it all.  Lucy becomes the telling detail in her own story, one woven together with her mother, her daughters, husband, friends, lovers neighbors and fellow writers.  Per her husband’s request, Lucy’s mother, whom she hasn’t seen in decades, comes to “babysit” while Lucy’s in the hospital for nine weeks following complications from surgery.  The five days of her mother’s visit are the setting for Lucy’s memories of her impoverished childhood and her steady march toward success as a writer.  Her mother comes across as more than a mother; but as Lucy’s muse.  She feeds her stories of people in their Midwest town.  Lucy’s reactions to her mother inspire further inquiries into what makes her the person she is.  In tone, this work reminds me of Lila by Marilyn Robinson, spare and light-filled, playing with themes of deception and honesty, acting and authenticity.  By the end of the book, the chapters are shorter, shifting more abruptly between time frames, saying less to say more – Oh.      

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Author: marilivtollefson

I teach and play violin when not reading and reviewing books. Thanks to indie authors for opening my world and sharing theirs! Find my reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, Midwest Book Review and BookPage, among others.

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