My Name Is Lucy Barton: A Novel
by Elizabeth Strout
Hardcover- $10.34

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE • A simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the tender ...

Overall rating:


How would you rate this book?

Member ratings

  "A mother and a daughter briefly find a way to reconnect!" by thewanderingjew (see profile) 01/19/16

My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout, author, Kimberly Farr, narrator
When the book begins, Lucy tells the reader that once, in the 1980’s, she had been in the hospital for nine weeks because of an appendix operation gone wrong. Her story revolves around this confinement; this is her story.
Lucy managed to survive a very dysfunctional childhood in ways her siblings did not. She was totally unworldly having never even seen a television show or gone to a movie while growing up. She was bullied at school and neglected at home because of her poverty, but she bore no grudge against anyone. When she managed to get an education and move away, she never returned home, but she continued to not only want her parents’ love and acceptance, she also continued to love them.
Lucy eventually married, had a family and became a published author. When she had to have her appendix removed, her recovery was impeded by an unknown infection that attacked her. Unable to eat and hold food down, she could not leave the hospital. Her husband, who hated hospitals and could not bear the sights or sounds, called her mother whom Lucy had not seen for years. He asked her to come to “babysit”. She remained there for 5 days, watching over her daughter, hardly sleeping, just sitting there and talking to her about the people she knew from her past, calling her by her pet childhood name, Wizzle-dee.
Lucy seemed very childlike, wondering why her mom had come to see her, asking if she loved her. Although her mom’s parenting skills may have been lacking, her presence comforted Lucy. Lucy and her mother began to bond and converse as they had never done before. Pieces of her past and the painful moments of her life were revealed as their conversations moved easily back and forth in time from the present to the past. Although Lucy asked her mom many questions, she did not give direct answers and revealed nothing personal about herself except for a brief comment about not feeling safe. Her mom was an enigma. She certainly was not maternal, although from their conversations, it was apparent that she cared for Lucy. Still, she left the hospital abruptly on the day Lucy was scheduled for further surgery which was telling. She left never seeing her son-in-law or her grandchildren whom she had never met before. She simply announced that she knew everything would be all right, and in spite of Lucy’s cries for her to stay, she left.
Over the five days that her mom had sat and talked with her in her hospital room, she told Lucy about all the people they had known. She identified their weak spots, found their faults and feelings of shame and exposed them to Lucy. They laughed together about the tragicomic tales her mother told. Her mom seemed invested in the emotional pain of strangers in much the same way that Lucy was invested in those that showed her compassion, like her doctor, her artist, and the other men in her life. Her mother’s devotion to Lucy during her visit was complete, so although she was not demonstrative and was at times abusive, I wondered if she was truly loyal and loving? As they spoke to each other, Lucy was unsure if her memories were real or imagined. Lots of thoughts and questions even raced through my mind as I read the book, none of which were answered, in much the same way as Lucy’s questions also remained unanswered!
This story is about a mother and her child from both perspectives. Lucy’s mother was able to intuit a great deal about her child, even without having seen her for years. She apologized to Lucy for their poverty, the poverty that subjected her to humiliation. Lucy, as a mother, missed her own children terribly while in the hospital. She carried her childhood sense of loss and insecurity around with her. She wondered if her mom had suffered in her own childhood as they each tried to reveal their hearts to each other, and hinted at, but never revealed, their innermost secrets. It seemed to me that because Lucy had not experienced open affection at home and experienced hostility outside, she sought respect, love and affection from others ever after, but was surprised when she received it and didn’t believe herself worthy of the attention she received. Would Lucy become her mother, continuing the legacy of her own neglected past?
Through Lucy’s thoughts we glimpse the hospital atmosphere, the overworked nurses and the resultant lack of attention and true care given to the patients whose cries go unanswered, as Lucy's had been unheeded, over the years. Was this a common thread? As the thoughts of Lucy and her mother are revealed, the neglected mother-daughter relationship is the idea that is most openly displayed. We discover that they are both needy, both in some emotional and psychological pain, both refusing to truly reveal themselves to each other, and both unable to speak of certain events in their lives. Both still seemed to need to move on in some way; both seemed dysfunctional.

  "" by apollo52 (see profile) 02/13/16

  "My Name Is Lucy Barton" by Cherim36 (see profile) 02/13/16

All of our members loved this book. There was as much unsaid as was said.

  "My Name is Lucy Barton" by ellenberns (see profile) 03/19/16

Our club really enjoyed the book and found it to be well written. Why don't you have that in your ratings. We will now read Olive Kitteridge since we liked the book so much. We especially liked having the suggested questions for discussion that you provided. Thank you.

  "" by nflanagan (see profile) 03/26/16

  "My Name is Lucy Barton" by cape08fl (see profile) 03/29/16

The author is a master of words. She tells of her life's story during her mother's visit while she is in the hospital. The characters are developed well, so you feel you are listening to your best friend. Did not want this book to end.

  "" by dgtomlin (see profile) 05/13/16

  "Slow and gloomy" by skinnyatlas (see profile) 05/24/16

Hard to get into and hard to stick with; poor character development

  "My Name is Lucy Barton" by ladydiphil (see profile) 06/07/16

This book made you want to pry answers from the main character faster than what the story was playing out. But with patients you will be rewarded.

  "" by lrw17 (see profile) 06/10/16

  "My Name Is Lucy Barton" by Susanmoore (see profile) 06/29/16

Interestingly, although our book club members liked this book, few of them would recommend it to others, especially to people who prefer plot-driven books. This is a sort of stream-of-consciousness novel that explores mother-daughter relationships and family dynamics in general. This book served as the impetus for our group to have a very lively and enlightening discussion about family and what it means.
I think you need to rethink the words to be checked off in your review section. "Well written" and "thought provoking" would seem to be worthy additions.

  "" by grandmacline (see profile) 07/31/16

  "" by Carole McDermott (see profile) 10/06/16

  "" by ullasg (see profile) 10/12/16

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 11/11/16

  "" by misspageturner (see profile) 01/07/17

  "" by Klinda (see profile) 01/08/17

  "" by misspageturner (see profile) 01/21/17

  "" by Egrevengoed (see profile) 01/23/17

  "" by HLEMK (see profile) 02/09/17

  "My Name is Lucy Barton" by bookbunny28 (see profile) 04/04/17

It was not as well liked as Olive Kittridge. Most members felt that it was well written, although many things were not explained fully. They enjoyed the discussion more then the actual book.

  "My Name is Lucy Barton: A Novel" by Science (see profile) 05/13/17

I saw nothing uplifting, enlightening, nor entertaining in this book. Fortunately it was fairly short.

  "" by Ljwagoner (see profile) 05/23/17

I'm just not too sure what this book is about. It felt like the story stayed just at the surface of so many intense issues and events that if they had been explored more in depth would have added a richness to the novel that I thought it lacked. I did enjoy it more than The Burgess Boys.

  "My Name is Lucy Barton" by [email protected] (see profile) 05/27/17

Infromative story of how some of our scientific research really happens, and how black people are not regarded as people!

  "I loved this book! " by bmedvid (see profile) 09/08/17

“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.”

My Name Is Lucy Barton tells the story of a woman, named Lucy, as she recovers from an illness and tries to make sense of/peace with her complicated relationship with her mother. Lucy was raised in extreme poverty by parents who were not able to nurture and show her love in the manner that most children need. These circumstances have a fundamental and lasting impact on Lucy’s understanding of people, including herself, her choices, and the woman she is.

The novel is written from Lucy’s point of view and comes across as a mix of a diary, vignettes of events, puzzles with half-revealed truths, but mostly, her own “one true story”. Strout uses language sparsely and with restraint. The novel is a short 191 pages that can be read quickly but should be savored slowly. The details are minimal and pared down to only the essentials. However, those pages resonate with a profusion of intense emotion and the vulnerability of the human condition. Loneliness, longing, pain, and inferiority are all felt strongly throughout the novel but so are resilience and love. At one point Lucy says “I feel I know a true sentence when I hear one now”. Strout filled this novel with true sentences. The novel summarizes itself nicely with the quotation “This is a story about love, … This is a story about a mother who loves her daughter. Imperfectly. Because we all love imperfectly.” I highly recommend this novel and suspect that Lucy will stay with you long after you have finished reading it.

  "" by Jbailey17 (see profile) 10/07/17

  "not my fav" by mommasue (see profile) 11/01/17

a very dispointing read after enjoying Strout's other wonderful novels. I anticipated an addictive and enthralling tail, only to find that at the end I was left wondering if I somehow missed the point of the novel...

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 11/14/17

  "" by Sophie99 (see profile) 12/12/17

  "" by aaronlibrarian (see profile) 12/14/17

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 01/13/18

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 01/22/18

  "my name is lucy barton" by Carolynr (see profile) 01/24/18

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.
As one reviewer states, nothing happens in this book . It is mostly introspective and psychological If you like that in a book, its one for you. I do not and found nothing redeeming about this story.
Not for me. sorry

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 02/10/18

  "Lucy Barton Boring" by overstock (see profile) 02/20/18

Not enough details.slow going...What's the purpose?

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 03/10/18

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 04/11/18

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 04/26/18

  "" by merrillee (see profile) 04/27/18

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 07/19/18

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 10/03/18

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 11/09/18

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 11/12/18

  "" by jnp41125 (see profile) 12/28/18

  "" by dbublik (see profile) 04/19/19

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 05/19/19

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 10/07/19

  "Unbelievable " by lpollinger (see profile) 11/15/19

Lucy is in the hospital with complications from an appendectomy. One day she wakes up to find her mother, who she has been estranged from for many years, sitting at the foot of her bed. This begins a journey for the two of them going over their past.
I felt the book jumped around way to much and it just didn’t hold my interest.

  "" by Audreya411 (see profile) 05/09/23

Boring, boring a story that goes nowhere!!

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 06/24/23

This is a thoughtful book that weaves together a story of loss and regret and hope. It is about forgiveness and understanding and familial love.

Remember me

Now serving over 80,000 book clubs & ready to welcome yours. Join us and get the Top Book Club Picks of 2022 (so far).



Get free weekly updates on top club picks, book giveaways, author events and more
Please wait...