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My Name Is Lucy Barton Audiobook

My Name Is Lucy Barton: A Novel

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Publisher's Summary

A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her best-selling novels, including Olive Kitteridge andThe Burgess Boys, have illuminated our most tender relationships. Now, in My Name Is Lucy Barton, this extraordinary writer shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all - the one between mother and daughter.

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn't spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy's childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy's life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.

©2016 Elizabeth Strout (P)2016 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"This story of family, poverty, aspirations, and obstacles is immediately gripping, thanks to the combination of Strout's high-quality prose and Kimberly Farr's nearly flawless performance." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (1827 )
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  •  
    Bonny 01-15-16
    Bonny 01-15-16 Member Since 2017
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    "Because we all love imperfectly."

    A character in My Name is Lucy Barton says "I like writers who try to tell you something truthful," and Elizabeth Strout has done just that. This book feels almost like the reader is being told a once-upon-a-time recounting of Lucy's life and relationships, in a personal, intimate conversation with her. It begins to feel like we are sitting at Lucy's bedside, along with her mother, as she recovers in the hospital. This experience is heightened by listening to the audiobook, with the excellent narration by Kimberly Farr.

    “I write because I want the reader to read the book when they may need it,” Strout wrote in an email. “For example, when I first read ‘Mrs. Dalloway,’ I thought: ‘Wow, I really need this book!’ So I always hope that a reader will find the book when they need it, even if they didn’t know they needed it.”

    And I did. I felt like Elizabeth Strout, through Lucy Barton, articulated and explained things I knew but couldn't express myself. The complexity of familial love, how things we wish we could hear from our loved ones just may not be possible for them to say, how we all love imperfectly, how we are all products of our background and experiences. I loved Olive Kitteridge, and My Name is Lucy Barton is even better.

    25 of 27 people found this review helpful
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    Janna Wong Healy Los Angeles, CA 04-19-16
    Janna Wong Healy Los Angeles, CA 04-19-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Exquisitely Written...but Undeniably Sad"

    3.5 Stars. Beautifully written (Strout's gift with language is exquisite) but unstintingly sad, this rumination on life, love and family is almost painful to sit through. Oh, how I wanted Lucy Barton to have one (just one) moment of pure, unadulterated happiness. But, no.

    Lucy Barton narrates her life by focusing on memories. She tells us how she grew up poor (so poor), how she was locked in her father's truck all day because she was too young to go to school and they had no one to watch her, how her parents refused to accept her husband because he was German, how her mother comes to visit her while she's in the hospital for an unexplained illness (Lucy is happy about this but then her mother leaves, which makes her sad all over again). Through these stories, we get a glimpse of Lucy's life, from child to adult.

    I found the book almost oppressive in its sadness, despite the beautiful words created by Strout.

    The narrator did a very nice job. She was clear and easy to understand and really worked hard on bringing emotion to the story.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy 01-17-16
    Kathy 01-17-16
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    "Just lovely"

    Too short (at first), of course, because Elizabeth Strout always leaves you wanting more, but the story she tells fits perfectly into these four hours. A great listen for a book group because you can identify the author's style and narrative ploys--you can see the "bones" of the book and how they support the whole. But if you just want to listen for the thoughtful, gentle, sneaky-smart observations that lace all the parts together, go for it. It's a fine and lovely listen. (I'm always distressed at those who review a "short" book and call the author lazy. Nonsense. It takes much more time and talent to "write short"!)

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jody THOMASTON, CT, United States 02-19-16
    Jody THOMASTON, CT, United States 02-19-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Poignant, Thoughtfully Written Novel"

    What is your relationship with your own mother? Why?

    These two questions will once again be with me for quite some time after reading this thoughtfully constructed novel about the tensions and trials between Lucy and her mother.

    Well done!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul L 02-12-16
    Paul L 02-12-16 Member Since 2011
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    "Exceptional story, exceptional narrator"
    If you could sum up My Name Is Lucy Barton in three words, what would they be?

    Elizabeth Strout has again written a thoughtful, mesmerizing novel. I can't say enough about the narrator, Kinberly Farr. She really feels the characters. She reads very slowly and with such controlled emotion. I would have to say that listening to her read this book is undoubtably a better experience than reading it and I rarely say that.


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W Perry Hall 09-07-16
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    "Pity Us All, We Don't Mean to be So Small"


    This is the story of Lucy Barton, who grew up in great poverty and suffered her parents’ neglect and abuse in the farmlands of Illinois and went on to became a successful fiction writer in New York City. Both poignant and profound on many different levels, Lucy Barton’s tale about herself is also a tale of many people in her life and an exploration of the human condition from the kindness of strangers to our basest need to find ways to feel superior to others by putting them down (in this book, based primarily on social status (poor) and regional distinctions (Southern, read “trash”), about how the pain we experience as children, from a parent’s neglect or our parents’ divorce, can be so sharp and our longings from childhood so substantial that we live with it every day “with each seizure of the beating heart.”

    This is a story about how some humans cannot face the harm we have done and so we lash out at all around us with unfair, ignorant judgments to make ourselves feel superior or we erect immature walls of silence (like closing our eyes and pretending to nap) to protect ourselves from acknowledging our faults and responsibilities. It’s a story showing how some of us can never communicate our feelings of love and forgiveness and are incapable of offering even small measures of redemption. It’s a story of Lucy Barton’s father “who was tortured every day of his life for things he did during the war,” and of her mother as a “wife who stayed with him because most did during those days and she comes to her daughter’s hospital room and talks compulsively about everyone’s marriage going bad and she doesn’t even know that’s what she’s doing. This is a story about a mother who loves her daughter imperfectly.”

    This short novel also provides an unflinching look at raw and unconditional love of children in the face of a parent’s neglect or inability to reciprocate, and how this will forever alter a child’s life, such that some just assume defeat, some are consumed by anger and resentment and others like Lucy accept and forgive. The story offers hope and redemption when a child, Lucy Barton, can write a story about her mother’s inability to ever say “I love you” or to kiss her daughter, with the intent of making people understand “It was alright.”

    It’s also about Lucy Barton’s struggle to deal with the fallout from a marriage that she ended and the damage done to her daughters from the collapse. Lucy says that when she’s alone she will sometimes say softly, “Mommy,” and she doesn’t know if it’s her calling out for her mom or her daughter Becka cry for Lucy on the day the planes crashed into the Twin Towers. This indeed is the human heart in conflict with itself that Faulkner noted makes for great literature.

    This is ultimately the story of Lucy Barton, a girl who loved her “Mommy” and who learned to see the world through the eyes of a fiction writer, without judgment, with an attempt to understand the sometimes impossibly decipherable human condition and “a heart as open as the heart of God,” notwithstanding the harm her heart still suffers from the acts or omissions of family members and the baseness of small people set on putting her down purely to make themselves feel superior.


    “It interests me how we find ways to feel superior to another person, another group of people. It happens everywhere, and all the time. Whatever we call it, I think it’s the lowest part of who we are, this need to find someone else to put down.”

    “There is this constant judgment in this world. How are we going to make sure we do not feel inferior to another.”

    “But I think I know so well the pain we children clutch to our chests, how it lasts our whole lifetime, with longings so large you can’t even weep. We hold it tight, we do, with each seizure of the beating heart: This is mine, this is mine, this is mine.”

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meeze 02-18-17
    Meeze 02-18-17 Member Since 2016
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    "My least favorite Elizabeth Strout book."

    The story dragged on and on. I did finish it and am not sorry that I read it, but I have loved lol her other books.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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    Lily 01-14-17
    Lily 01-14-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Couldn't wait for it to end."

    Nicely written, but oh so boring! Would not recommend if you like good stories. The narrator made the book somehow better than it was.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mom of Two Los Angeles 01-12-17
    Mom of Two Los Angeles 01-12-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Tedious"

    I couldn't wait for this to end. It felt like I was at my elderly neighbors's house listening to her ramble on, and wondering how I might make a graceful exit. I found the reader's narration to be precious and sentimental. Not a fan.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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    Madeline 12-30-16
    Madeline 12-30-16 Member Since 2008
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    "Poor book club choice"

    This book was such a letdown. I keep trying to get back the satisfaction and enjoyment I got from Reading Olive Kitteridge from her other writings. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen in this story. So little seemed developed I didn't buy the "I grew up in desperate poverty " bit, it didn't seem honest or true. Neither did the Nazi money or the reasons for the estrangement from her family of origin, especially the sister she seemed close to as a child. Furthermore and most importantly, I didn't care about any of them.I felt like so many of the other reviewers, I thought she must have a contract where she is producing a certain number of books within a time period. Too bad, I thought I'd found an artist whose work I could
    faithfully read and enjoy.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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