Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016

My Name is Lucy Barton

Elizabeth Strout


Wednesday, 19th April 2017

7:00 pm

at il libro

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The novel – narrated by the protagonist from the vantage point of the future, both with the benefit of hindsight and the unreliability of memory – takes places over five nights in the mid-1980s. Lucy Barton has been in hospital for three weeks with an undiagnosed illness after having her appendix removed. She is separated from her husband and two daughters, aged five and six, whom she misses desperately.

Unexpectedly, her mother, from whom she has been estranged for years, arrives at her bedside. Lucy is now a successful writer, but her mother’s presence reignites memories of her childhood – of poverty, abuse and social exclusion: “We were oddities, our family, even in that tiny rural town of Amgash, Illinois.”

Elizabeth Strout is a writer bracingly unafraid of silences. If we reach a sophisticated urban consensus on how to speak, how to dress, how to live, then who will know what lies beneath the surface? Who will know what any one of us might really mean by words like “home,” “childhood” or “love”?

There is not a scintilla of sentimentality in this exquisite novel. Instead, in its careful words and vibrating silences, My Name Is Lucy Barton offers us a rare wealth of emotion, from darkest suffering to — “I was so happy. Oh, I was happy” — simple joy.

You will find a copy waiting for you at the bookshop il libro.

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