My Name Is Lucy Barton Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Penguin presents the unabridged, downloadable audiobook edition of My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, read by Kimberly Farr.
A mother comes to visit her daughter in hospital after having not seen her in many years. Her unexpected visit forces Lucy to confront her past, uncovering long-buried memories of a profoundly impoverished childhood, and her present, as the façade of her new life in New York begins to crumble, awakening her to the reality of her faltering marriage and her unsteady journey towards becoming a writer.
From Lucy's hospital bed, we are drawn ever more deeply into the emotional complexity of family life, the inescapable power of the past and the memories - however painful - that bind a family together.
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|Listening Length||4 hours and 11 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||04 February 2016|
|Publisher||Penguin Books Ltd|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 5,235 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
219 in Literary Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
826 in Literary Fiction (Books)
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My Name Is Lucy Barton is a short, sparse novel and every word, every incident related is carefully chosen. There's a veil of ambiguity over the whole novel that made me constantly question what I was reading. It's clear that Lucy's mother, Lydia, remembers certain things very differently to the way Lucy does. Was Lucy's childhood really as bad as she believes it to have been, or - as someone who tells stories for a living - is she creating an embellished narrative to express some other, even deeper problem? There's an extra layer of uncertainty, too, as Lucy is looking back on her hospital stay and relating her conversations with her mother to us at a much later date, long after the two children she worries about while in hospital have grown up. We're not just relying on memories: we're relying on memories of memories. What, exactly, are the vague, undiagnosed complications she's suffering after her appendectomy - and is it just a coincidence that, having spent her childhood wary of a volatile, disturbed father, she is almost obsessively attached to the kind, calm and paternal doctor who oversees her care? Lucy may have left behind her traumatic past for New York, comfortable affluence and literary acclaim, but she'll never be able to escape her family's influence completely, and her relationship with her own daughters seems far from clear-cut.
It's not often that a novel says so much in so few words. Strout's prose is beautifully economical and Lucy's recollections are shaped by her traumatic experiences, some of which she is clearly repressing, so what's left out is sometimes just as important as what's included. This is a thoughtful exploration of fractured, complicated family relationships and the ripple effect of childhood poverty and neglect through the generations.
This book is different, I bought it because I went to the theatre a few months back to see the play with Laura Linney and I was so deeply touched by her performance!it made me want to re live the story, a story that I feel belongs to all of us, one way or another, about families, our relationship with our parents,our fears, our lives and how everything comes full circle at the end. Always.
Elisabeth Strout doesn't write a story, she whispers it to our ears to remind us that it's alright to cry and be human and scared. One of the best.
While narrated solely through Lucy Barton’s voice, unlike the multiple voices in “OK”, Lucy’s voice is uncertain, prone to revision and wavering, as she looks back on her long hospital stay as a young wife and mother. Her mother’s visit triggers stark memories of her impoverished (and possibly abusive) childhood and informs her ambivalent relationship with her mother, as she sees both of them through others’ eyes.
Written like a confessional or a memoir, the novel is made up of moments, side stories, recounted conversations, ponderings, stitched together. Lucy tells of her struggles as a fledgling writer, and her determination to write what is real, following the advice of a writer that “if you find yourself protecting anyone as you write this piece, remember this: You’re not doing it right”. What comes through in Lucy’s own narrative about her family is her inability at times to do just that as she reports on her parents’ neglect and abuse, but which is mingled with apology and excuses made in their behalf as she also tries to show the tender side to them, which gives her whole writing exercise a metafictive slant, revealing much about Lucy Barton herself. She reminds the reader at several points in the story that this is not a story about her marriage and yet it seeps through, over and over again, as it is part of her story and cannot be left out.
A quietly moving novel, that draws the reader in to all the hopes, fears and dreams of a character in all her vulnerability and brokenness, as she finds a way to grab onto herself and define who she is.
Lucy’s mother had come from Illinois to New York City to visit her daughter, who was in hospital there, with unexplained complications after an appendectomy. They had not seen each other for many years; but the mother stayed by her bed, day and night, for five days, cat-napping in the chair by the bed. She never asked her daughter anything about her life, and instead reminisced about her own childhood and, quite inconsequentially, about a number of people she knew.
On the fifth day, Lucy had an X-ray, and her doctor saw a blockage, and said she might need surgery. Her mother then left abruptly, against Lucy’s protests. Lucy had no memory of her mother kissing her good-bye or indeed of her ever having kissed her. Lucy would see her only once more in her life – nine years later, when her mother was terminally ill.
Is that a credible relationship?
Lucy has her own reminiscences, some of them as inconsequential as her mother’s; but other, more interesting ones, are about her own childhood. These were only mental reminiscences, since her mother did not ask her anything about her life.
Her father had worked on a farm. The family was very poor and lived in an unheated garage. Lucy had spent a lot of time after hours in her school, where it was warm. She was an ardent reader and so successful a student that she had won a free place at a college outside Chicago, and eventually became writer.
It was at the college that she had met William, who was working there as a lab assistant. She had married him when she was twenty, and they had two daughters. William was the son of a German prisoner of war and the wife of a farmer for whom he had been working. Lucy’s father was ill at ease with his son-in-law: he had fought in the Second World War, and felt guilty for the rest of his life at having shot two young German civilians, and the blond William looked like one of them.
It turned out that Lucy did not need surgery; and, after another five weeks, she was allowed home.
William had come a few times to visit her in hospital. He had been left a lot of money, and the couple were now well off. When Lucy’s novels came out, they were a great and profitable success. We are told, without any details, that her and William’s marriage would be bad; that she would leave him and their daughters, and that they would both remarry, in her case a man who had also been born in great poverty, but who had become a brilliant cello player That story will be told by Elizabeth Strout in a later book, “Oh William!”
Unsatisfactory as I found the depiction of the mother-daughter relationship, I was sufficiently interested in Lucy to want to read that sequel.
Again, I expected to find a novel, but I'm not even sure I would call this a book. Very brief - only 191 pages, large text, and lots of empty space. Some of the "chapters" were only one paragraph! The chapters consisted of a series of vignettes, almost conversations between the central character (who was herself an author; convenient) and her mother, or with the reader. I felt no connection with any of the characters in this series of vignettes. The only positive aspect (if you could call it that) was that I had several ah-ha moments, as I recognised names from the "Anything is Possible" chapters.
I was really expecting this book to be the story of Lucy Barton, but it wasn't (at all). It was Lucy Barton having conversations with herself.
I think Elizabeth Strout must be one of those Marmite authors who lots of people love but a substantial minority don't like at all. Count me in the latter. I won't be giving her another chance. Two strikes and you're out.