Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

My Name is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout

Contemporary Fiction 4*s
Contemporary Fiction
4*s

Wow this is one powerful, yet short novel. I wonder at the author’s ability to convey so much about the relationship between Lucy Barton and her mother.

The bulk of the book looks back to a period in the late eighties, when Lucy was ill in hospital. Her husband who was not at all keen on hospitals makes contact with Lucy’s mother and she comes to visit and stays in the hospital with Lucy telling her stories about people in the Amgash , Illinois, a place that Lucy left as soon as she was old enough. Contact between Lucy and her family has been more or less non-existent for many years and yet, Lucy’s mother doesn’t talk very much about their family, instead concentrating on other’s woes, successes and everyday lives.

It soon becomes very clear that Lucy’s childhood wasn’t a happy one as she reminisces about events from long ago, but Elizabeth Strout has not made her protagonist a victim, not at all, in fact the narrative about the poverty, the neglect and abuse is all the more powerful for the short yet powerful insights delivered almost entirely without blame. This is not a character looking for sympathy, rather a person who wonders at the route her life has taken especially when she eventually becomes a novelist of some note.

We also get some insight into Lucy’s marriage although she continually pronounces that this book, the one she was meant to write, is not the story of her marriage there are enough hints that the reader is able to spin an entire story from the bits we do hear about.

Like me you may start this book and feel that it is a gentle read, an introspective look at one woman’s life. Albeit a life that started without much in the way of advantage but you’d be wrong. As with Lucy’s marriage, there is almost as much said by the unsaid, as there is by that which is explicitly, yet gently presented to us. There is the yearning for a mother’s love, for her children who visit her in hospital with a friend, the stark reality of joining the world after an extended stay in hospital in the present. While the memories take her back to being an outcast amongst her peers, a child who had no references to what was happening in the outside world until she went to college and as a result, part of her always felt that difference keenly, although she would deny it. I found the subtlety of the storytelling, at times almost too tragic to read – but I’m so glad I did! This is an excellent portrayal, full of overt gentleness but with a rawness at the centre that took my breath away.

I’m very grateful to the publishers, Penguin Books UK, who gave me an advance copy of this book to read. My Name is Lucy Barton will be published on 4 February 2016.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (January 20)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

At the moment I am reading My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, a story of mothers and daughters.

My Name is Lucy Barton

Blurb

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. NetGalley

Having just finished Dead Pretty by David Mark, the fifth in the DI McAvoy series

Dead Pretty

Blurb

Hannah Kelly has been missing for nine months. Ava Delaney has been dead for five days.
One girl to find. One girl to avenge. And DS Aector McAvoy won’t let either of them go until justice can be done.
But some people have their own ideas of what justice means… NetGalley

And next up is Without Trace by Simon Booker which sounds like it’s got all the makings of an excellent novel

Simon Booker

Blurb

Her daughter missing, her childhood sweetheart the only suspect: a gripping and suspenseful debut thriller
For four long years, journalist Morgan Vine has campaigned for the release of her childhood sweetheart Danny Kilcannon – convicted, on dubious evidence, of murdering his 14 year-old stepdaughter.
When a key witness recants, Danny is released from prison. With nowhere else to go, he relies on single mum Morgan and her teenage daughter, Lissa.
But then Lissa goes missing.
With her own child now at risk, Morgan must re-think all she knows about her old flame – ‘the one that got away’. As the media storm around the mysterious disappearance intensifies and shocking revelations emerge, she is forced to confront the ultimate question: who can we trust…? Amazon

So that’s my week nicely sorted, what do you all have to read at the moment? Do share!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (October 11)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared.

As I’m off to Bath a city chosen for a short-break, the location chosen in no small way because I’ve been longing to visit Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights ever since some other lucky blogger featured this shop. Fortunately my friend also likes books!

mr-bs-emporium3

With this in mind, because I will possibly purchase a book or two during this visit I have just a couple of finds for you this week.

The Killing of Polly Carter by Robert Thorogood, is written by the writer of the TV series, Death In Paradise. The first in this series, A Meditation on Murder, was very well-received by this reader.

The Killing of Polly Carter

Blurb

When famous supermodel Polly Carter is found dead at the bottom of a cliff all signs point to suicide, but as the evidence continues to mount DI Richard Poole declares it to be a murder. Now, with a houseful of suspects Richard has to narrow the field and discover who the murderer is before it’s too late. At the same time his mother is arriving from England and throwing his whole perfectly ordered life into turmoil. Not only does she want to be involved in island life, but all signs are beginning to point to not all being right in Richard’s own family…something he cannot help but attempt to fix. NetGalley

The Killing of Polly Carter will be published on 3 December 2015.

I also have a copy of My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, a book that has me intrigued although it is quite different to my usual reading choices, this will be published in February 2016.

My Name is Lucy Barton
Blurb

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. NetGalley

I also picked up a copy of Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight having been so impressed with the author’s second novel Where They Found Her.

Reconstructing Amelia

Blurb

Single mother and lawyer Kate Baron is in the meeting of her career when she is interrupted by a telephone call. Her daughter Amelia has just been suspended from her exclusive prep school. When Kate eventually arrives at Grace Hall an hour later, she is greeted by the news that no mother ever wants to hear. A grieving Kate can’t accept that her daughter would kill herself. But she soon discovers she didn’t know Amelia quite as well as she thought. Who are the friends she kept, what are the secrets she hid? And so begins an investigation which takes her deep into Amelia’s private world – and into the mind of a troubled young girl. Then Kate receives an anonymous text: AMELIA DIDN’T JUMP. Is someone toying with her or has she been right all along? To find the truth about her daughter, Kate must now face a darker reality than she could ever have imagined. Amazon

What have you found to read this week?