After finishing Elizabeth Strout’s beautiful collection of interwoven stories, Anything is Possible, I couldn’t wait to read My Name is Lucy Barton. Strout’s Lucy Barton appears in a few of the stories in Anything is Possible; her life is talked about, touched upon, speculated over.
My Name is Lucy Barton is told from her perspective. Sick in the hospital after an operation, Lucy unravels the trajectory of her life for the reader: the extreme poverty of her youth, her escape from a small town in Illinois, her move to New York City, her path to motherhood, and success as a writer. When Lucy’s mother, a cold and distant woman, flies to Lucy’s sickbed to be with her, memories and old insecurities surface.
Strout is a writer of masterful, elegant prose, and there’s a complexity to her characters that never feels forced or contrived. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, though the narrative felt slightly unbalanced. As Lucy attempts to reconcile her past and present selves, important threads of her story, particularly that of her marriage and children, and her life as a writer, are told with certain carelessness and ultimately feel underdeveloped.