My Name Is Lucy Barton

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My Name Is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout

Published September 25, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2016 AND THE BAILEYS WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016 

THE NEW YORK TIMES NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER 

An exquisite story of mothers and daughters from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge

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. Her unexpected visit forces Lucy to confront the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of her life: her impoverished childhood in Amgash, Illinois, her escape to New York and her desire to become a writer, her faltering 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. In My Name Is Lucy Barton, one of America’s finest writers shows how a simple hospital visit illuminates the most tender relationship of all-the one between mother and daughter.

What did I think?:

This novel was EVERYWHERE a little while ago due to being long-listed for both the Women’s Prize For Fiction and The Man Booker Prize. With books like these, I always seem to be among one of the last to read them (or it feels that way anyway!). I’m not sure why, the hype monster always worries me slightly, especially if everyone is singing a novel’s praises to the sky…..what if I don’t feel the same? Luckily, the lovely people at Mr B’s Emporium Of Reading Delights finally convinced me to pick this book up sooner than I might have done otherwise and whilst it may not have been a five star read for me, I can completely understand why other people treasure it and why it has received all the critical acclaim and fantastic reviews.

Elizabeth Strout, author of My Name Is Lucy Barton.

As the title may suggest, this is the story of a woman called Lucy Barton whom when we meet her is recovering in hospital after complications from a routine surgery. Her husband isn’t a big fan of hospitals so she has been unable to see either him or her two daughters and is feeling generally miserable and fed up until one day she gets an unexpected visitor – her mother, whom she hasn’t seen for many years. Lucy has quite a strained, uneasy relationship with her entire family we soon come to learn which all harks back to her childhood, a poverty-stricken, isolating and lonely time. We also find out that the arrival of Lucy’s mother is quite a big deal, considering she rarely makes trips outside in big cities and although she is unwilling to discuss anything too emotional or triggering with her daughter, she entertains her with gossip and memories regarding people from their local town. This is the story of fraught family relationships, desolate feelings, art and writing and how a passion for the latter can fuel the desire to be happy again. We also discover how marriage, motherhood and the kindness of strangers can have a huge impact on an individual without them even being aware of the effects.

Illinois, USA where our female lead spends her difficult childhood.

As a piece of literary fiction, I was always prepared for this book to have beautiful, lyrical writing but I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that it would precipitate in such a short amount of pages. This book is probably best read in as few sittings as possible, even one if you can manage it as once you begin, I feel you get the true measure of the journey our narrator has been through in her life if you can swallow it all in one gulp. Generally, we see Lucy mostly in the present time, in the hospital room with her mother but throughout the narrative, we get various flashbacks from her childhood, moments in her marriage, moments with friends and her children that give us a fuller idea of who Lucy is as a person, giving the reader a fascinating insight into her character, thoughts and feelings.

Some parts of this story feel very much like streams of consciousness and other, perhaps more darker parts of the novel are merely hinted at implicitly but I quite enjoyed trying to figure out Lucy as a person from the very early pages when she is quite the closed book to the end of the novel where I really started to look on her as a dear friend. Lucy starts to realise she has much more in common with her mother than she would have ever thought and ruminates on her own experience as a mother and how this has been different or similar to what she personally experienced growing up. Not everything is resolved between the two as you might expect but I didn’t mind this at all. It felt much more authentic and reflective of real life and real relationships that there were awkward moments of communication between mother and daughter and obvious tensions bubbling below the surface. However, by the end you are filled with genuine hope for a deeper connection in the future and potential closure on many issues for our female lead.

As an author of literary fiction, Elizabeth Strout is a wonder with words and a genius at recounting a heart-felt story in such a relatively short space of time. I will definitely be picking up more books by her in the future!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout was the forty-seventh book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

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August 2018 – Real Book Month

Published August 2, 2018 by bibliobeth


It’s time for one of my favourite months – real book month! This is where I try to bring down that pesky TBR as much as I can. I try to focus on books I’m really excited about and roll my eyes that I haven’t managed to get to them before now. I normally have a list of about ten I want to read, however, because I also participate in Banned Books and Kid-Lit with my sister as well as reading the Richard and Judy book club titles, I’ve felt under too much pressure lately so am just easing that slightly. This month I want to focus on some more of the titles my sister Chrissi Reads and I bought on our trip to the wonderful Mr B’s Emporium Of Reading Delights in Bath. This is what I’ll be reading:

1.) The Name Of The Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) – Patrick Rothfuss

What’s it all about?:

MY NAME IS KVOTHE

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.

So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature–the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.

2.) My Name Is Lucy Barton (Amgash #1) – Elizabeth Strout

What’s it all about?:

LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2016 AND THE BAILEYS WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016 

THE NEW YORK TIMES NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER 

An exquisite story of mothers and daughters from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge

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. Her unexpected visit forces Lucy to confront the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of her life: her impoverished childhood in Amgash, Illinois, her escape to New York and her desire to become a writer, her faltering 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. In My Name Is Lucy Barton, one of America’s finest writers shows how a simple hospital visit illuminates the most tender relationship of all-the one between mother and daughter.

3.) Lighthousekeeping – Jeanette Winterson

What’s it all about?:

The young orphan Silver is taken in by the ancient lighthousekeeper Mr. Pew, who reveals to her a world of myth and mystery through the art of storytelling. A magical, lyrical tale from one of Britain’s best-loved literary novelists. of the Cape Wrath lighthouse. Pew tells Silver ancient tales of longing and rootlessness, of the slippages that occur throughout every life. One life, Babel Dark’s, a nineteenth century clergyman, opens like a map that Silver must follow, and the intertwining of myth and reality, of storytelling and experience, lead her through her own particular darkness. Stevenson and of the Jekyll and Hyde in all of us, Lighthousekeeping is a way into the most secret recesses of our own hearts and minds. Jeanette Winterson is one of the most extraordinary and original writers of her generation, and this shows her at her lyrical best.

4.) Get In Trouble – Kelly Link

What’s it all about?:

The first new collection in almost a decade from a bewitchingly original writer hailed by Michael Chabon as “the most darkly playful voice in American fiction.”

One of today’s most celebrated short story writers, Kelly Link creates brilliantly detailed, layered fictional worlds pulsing with their own energy and life. The situations are at first glance fantastical, but the emotional insights are piercing and the characters vividly real. In “The Summer People,” a young girl in rural Florida serves as uneasy caretaker to the mysterious, never-quite-glimpsed visitors who inhabit the cottage behind her house. In “I Can See Right Through You,” a one-time teen idol movie vampire takes a disturbing trip to the set where his former on- and off-screen love interest is shooting a bizarre new reality show; in “The New Boyfriend,” a suburban slumber party takes an unusual turn when the spoiled birthday girl opens her big present, a new animated doll. Funny, uncanny, always deeply moving, these stories demonstrate a writer of wondrous gifts operating at the height of her powers.

5.) Undermajordomo Minor – Patrick deWitt

What’s it all about?:

Lucy Minor is the resident odd duck in the hamlet of Bury. He is a compulsive liar, a sickly weakling in a town famous for begetting brutish giants. Then Lucy accepts employment assisting the majordomo of the remote, foreboding Castle Von Aux. While tending to his new post as undermajordomo, he soon discovers the place harbours many dark secrets, not least of which is the whereabouts of the castle’s master, Baron Von Aux. Thus begins a tale of polite theft, bitter heartbreak, domestic mystery, and cold-blooded murder.

Undermajordomo Minor is an ink-black comedy of manners, an adventure, and a mystery, and a searing portrayal of rural Alpine bad behaviour, but above all it is a love story. And Lucy must be careful, for love is a violent thing.

 

So if my calculations are correct, after I finish this little list I will have finally read all the books that were recommended to my sister and I at our two reading spas that we’ve had with Mr B’s Emporium Of Reading Delights! I feel a sense of achievement at getting them all completed but a strange sense of relief too as there’s plenty more physical books on my shelves I’ve been excited about but have been putting to one side to try and get all of these books read.

Out of this list, I’m particularly excited about The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss which I’ve only heard amazing things about but have been a bit intimidated by so far as it’s a beast of a book at 662 pages! My fellow bloggers have also given rave reviews of My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout so I’m looking forward to that and I’m trembling with nerves about Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt as I loved his novel The Sisters Brothers so much I’m worried this one might not meet my very high expectations. We shall soon see.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? I’d love to know in the comments below! Have a great month everyone. 

Love Beth xxx

Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction Longlist Revealed!

Published March 18, 2016 by bibliobeth

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Image from http://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk

The Baileys Prize for fiction (previously known as the Orange prize) was first established in 1996 and celebrates work from female authors all over the world. The long-list for 2016 was announced on Tuesday 8th March and it looks so amazing that I just had to set myself a little challenge. Yes, to read the long-list! I’ve got a little head start as I finished A Little Life recently and plan to read The Glorious Heresies as part of my Book Bridgr/NetGalley/ARC review copy month in April as I was lucky enough to receive a copy a while back from Book Bridgr. Here are the titles long-listed this year with a mini description of each as I take the best bits from the GoodReads synopsis:

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Kate Atkinson: A God in Ruins

A companion novel to Life After Life focusing on Ursula’s younger brother Teddy as he faces living in a future he never expected to have.

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Shirley Barrett: Rush Oh!

A debut novel about a young woman coming of age in one of the harshest whaling seasons in the history of New South Wales. Family struggles, sibling rivalries, first love and a bit of a “dark side” this novel blends both fact and fiction to celebrate an extraordinary episode in history.

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Cynthia Bond: Ruby

Beautiful Ruby Bell has suffered beyond imagining and flees her small town for New York in the 1950’s. When a telegram requests her return she is forced to confront the devastating violence in her childhood.

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Geraldine Brooks: The Secret Chord

The Old Testament’s King David is brought to life in Second Iron Age Israel through the eyes of those who love and fear him. A beautifully written saga of faith, desire, family, ambition, betrayal and power.

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Becky Chambers: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this novel tells the tale of nine different characters somewhere in our crowded sky. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.

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Jackie Copleton: A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding

Amaterasu Takahashi opens her door to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn’t believe him. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing.

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Rachel Elliott: Whispers Through a Megaphone

Miriam hasn’t left her house in three years, and cannot raise her voice above a whisper while Ralph has opened a closet door to discover his wife doesn’t love him and never has. A chance meeting of the two explores their attempts to meaningfully connect with themselves and others, in an often deafening world – when sometimes all they need is a bit of silence.

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Anne Enright: The Green Road

Spanning thirty years and three continents, The Green Road tells the story of Rosaleen, matriarch of the Madigan family, and her four children. When Christmas Day reunites the children under one roof, each confronts the terrible weight of family ties and the journey that brought them home. The Green Road is a major work of fiction about the battles we wage for family, faith, and love.

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Petina Gappah: The Book of Memory

Memory, the narrator of The Book of Memory, is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she has been convicted of murder. As part of her appeal her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, and Memory is, both literally and metaphorically, writing for her life.

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Vesna Goldsworthy: Gorsky

London dances to the tune of Gorsky’s billions. The most enigmatic of oligarchs, Gorsky has been led to the city by his love for Natalia, whom he first knew in Russia. That she is now married to an Englishman is an inconvenient detail. When Gorsky’s armour-plated car halts in front of a down-at-heel bookshop, the startled young man behind the till receives the commission of a lifetime. The bookseller suddenly gains privileged access to the wealthy and the beautiful; a world filled with delectable books but fraught with danger…

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Clio Gray: The Anatomist’s Dream

Philbert is born with a ‘taupe’, a disfiguring inflammation of the skull. Abandoned by both parents and with only a pet pig for company, he eventually finds refuge and companionship in a travelling carnival, Maulwerf’s Fair of Wonders. But then Philbert meets Kwert, ‘Tospirologist and Teller of Signs’, and when he persuades the boy to undergo examination by the renowned physician and craniometrist, Dr Ullendorf, both Kwert and Philbert embark on an altogether darker and more perilous journey that will have far-reaching consequences for a whole nation.

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Melissa Harrison: At Hawthorn Time

An exquisite and intimate novel about four people’s lives and our changing relationship with nature. As the lives of these four people overlap, we realize that mysterious layers of history are not only buried within them, but also locked into the landscape. A captivating novel, At Hawthorn Time is about what it means to belong—to family, to community, and to place—and about what it is to take our own, long road into the unknown.

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Attica Locke: Pleasantville

In this sophisticated thriller, lawyer Jay Porter, hero of Locke’s bestseller Black Water Rising, returns to fight one last case, only to become embroiled once again in a dangerous game of shadowy politics and a witness to how far those in power are willing to go to win. With a man’s life and his own reputation on the line, Jay is about to try his first murder in a case that will also put an electoral process on trial, exposing the dark side of power and those determined to keep it.

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Lisa McInerney: The Glorious Heresies

One messy murder affects the lives of five misfits who exist on the fringes of Ireland’s post-crash society. Biting, moving and darkly funny, The Glorious Heresies explores salvation, shame and the legacy of Ireland’s twentieth-century attitudes to sex and family.

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Elizabeth McKenzie: The Portable Veblen

The Portable Veblen is a dazzlingly original novel that’s as big-hearted as it is laugh-out-loud funny. Set in and around Palo Alto, amid the culture clash of new money and old (anti-establishment) values, and with the spectre of our current wars looming across its pages, The Portable Veblen is an unforgettable look at the way we live now. Throughout, Elizabeth McKenzie asks: Where do our families end and we begin? How do we stay true to our ideals? And what is that squirrel really thinking? Replete with deadpan photos and sly appendices, The Portable Veblen is at once an honest inquiry into what we look for in love and an electrifying reading experience.

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Sara Nović: Girl at War

Zagreb, summer of 1991. Ten-year-old Ana Jurić is a carefree tomboy who runs the streets of Croatia’s capital with her best friend, Luka, takes care of her baby sister, Rahela, and idolizes her father. When tragedy suddenly strikes, Ana is lost to a world of guerilla warfare and child soldiers; a daring escape plan to America becomes her only chance for survival. Ten years later Ana is haunted by the events that forever changed her family, she returns alone to Croatia, where she must rediscover the place that was once her home and search for the ghosts of those she’s lost.

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Julia Rochester: The House at the Edge of the World

Shortly after their eighteenth birthday, twins Morwenna and Corwin’s father dies accidentally (and ignominiously) when he falls off a cliff, drunk. Over the past fifty years, Matthew has meticulously painted every important event in the family’s life on top of an ordnance survey chart. Part record and part legend, the map has been a subject of fascination to Morwenna and Corwin for as long as they can remember. But is there a deeper meaning hidden among the tiny pictures of shipwrecks, asps and farting devils, and could it lead them closer to what really happened to their father all those years ago?

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Hannah Rothschild: The Improbability of Love

Annie McDee, alone after the disintegration of her long-term relationship and trapped in a dead-end job, is searching for a present for her unsuitable lover in a neglected second-hand shop. Annie stumbles across ‘The Improbability of Love’, a lost masterpiece by Antoine Watteau, one of the most influential French painters of the eighteenth century. Soon Annie is drawn unwillingly into the art world, and finds herself pursued by a host of interested parties that would do anything to possess her picture. In her search for the painting’s true identity, Annie will uncover the darkest secrets of European history – and in doing so, she will learn more about herself, opening up to the possibility of falling in love again.

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Elizabeth Strout: My Name is Lucy Barton

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. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.

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Hanya Yanagihara: A Little Life

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

I’m loving this list and can’t wait to get stuck in! I’m particularly intrigued and looking forward to A God In Ruins which I got as a Christmas present from my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads, A Dictionary Of Mutual Understanding (love anything remotely Japanese based), Girl at War and The House At The Edge Of The World which I have copies of from NetGalley, The Book Of Memory which I have as a Goldsboro Book Of The Month customer, The Improbability of Love which has been on my radar for a while now and The Anatomist’s Dream which looks fascinating. But hey – don’t they all look great? I’m championing A Little Life at the moment (review to come at some point) which was so amazing I don’t have enough words to describe my love for it. That could all change however once I’ve read the complete long-list!

Have you read any of these titles or which ones are you excited about? Let’s have a chat about it in the comments below!