Sunday, January 8, 2023

Book Review: Lucy by the Sea

One of my resolutions of 2023 is to post my reviews of the books I read, no matter how short. I have been doing this on the website I did copy over some reviews occasionally in previous years, but I want to start keeping a record of my reading here on the blog. Also to record where I got the book as a journal of my connections with the book world.

Bought at Barnes and Noble for $28 with a few dollars left on a gift card from last year. I really enjoyed reading Strout's fourth novel about Lucy Barton, presumably an autobiographical figure, a novelist dealing with aging, her ex-husband, her two grown-up daughters, and the trauma of growing up within a dysfunctional, poverty-stricken household in a garage rather than a house. (Previous works are My Name Is Lucy Barton, Anything Is Possible, Oh, William. The first one was made into a solo play starring Laura Linney on Broadway.) In this version, Lucy chronicles her experiences of the COVID pandemic. Her ex-husband William, a scientist, brings her to stay in a remote house in rural Maine to avoid the mass infections in NYC. As the lockdown drags on, William and Lucy reconnect, her daughters encounter their own crises, and she makes friends with characters who also appear in Strout's Olive Kittredge novels (Pulitzer Prize, made into an HBO mini-series with Frances MacDormand). Spare, incisive prose cuts to the heart of her characters. Lucy deals with Trump supporters and the BLM movement with compassion. No one is a hero or villain, just people trying to get along.

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