Elizabeth Strout is a very well known highly regarded American writer. Born in Maine in 1956, she completed law school to have back up work if her writing career failed to support her, she won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for her collection of related short stories set in Maine, Olive Kittridge. Among her other we'll know works are The Burgess Boys and Amy and Isabelle. Any time she publishes a new work it is sure a lot of interest will be found. For sure this is proving true on her just published work My Name is Lucy Barton.
Narrated in the first person, My Name is Lucy Barton begin with Lucy in a hospital, with an illness whose nature we never really learn. Lying in bed she has lots of time to think about her past, how she got to where she is now, a sucessful writer living in New York City with children and affluent husband from her dysfunctional in poverty childhood. Her childhood was very harsh, she, her brother, and parents lived in an unheated garage at her uncle's house. She had no books, no TV, her clothes marked her out as poor, but it was a while until she realized this. One of the lucky moments of her life was when a teacher saw her intelligence and love of books and helped, I thought another lost and lonely soul saved by the reading life.
"My teacher saw that I loved reading, and she gave me books, even grown-up books, and I read them. And then later in high school I still read books, when my homework was done, in the warm school. But the books My teacher saw that I loved reading, and she gave me books, even grown-up books, and I read them. And then later in high school I still read books, when my homework was done, in the warm school. But the books brought me things. This is my point. They made me feel less alone. This is my point. And I thought: I will write and people will not feel so alone! (But it was my secret. Even when I met my husband I didn’t tell him right away. I couldn’t take myself seriously. Except that I did. I took myself—secretly, secretly—very seriously! I knew I was a writer. I didn’t know how hard it would be. But no one knows that; and that does not matter.) Because of the hours I stayed in the warm classroom, because of the reading I did, and because I saw that if you didn’t miss a piece of the work the homework made sense—because of these things, my grades became perfect. My senior year, the guidance counselor called me to her office and said that a college just outside of Chicago was inviting me to attend with all expenses paid."
From this she enters a new world.
Her mother comes to visit her for a few days in the hotel and they talk. Lucy tries to understand her past, we learn more about her family history, her brother's struggles and her father's issues. We see Lucy has issues connecting closely to others. There are deep mysteries in her past. We struggle along with her in efforts to understand them.
I am glad I was given a review copy of this book. I do not feel I can generally recommend the book to those I do not know. My first thought is this short work with a reading time well under three hours is unfairly priced at $12.95 for the Kindle edition. At that price I cannot recommend the purchase of this work unless you are a huge fan already of the author.