Published: 6 October 2022
Author: Elizabeth Strout
Published by: Penguin
Genre: Literary Fiction
Length: 304 pages
Reading dates: 20-23 November 2022
In March 2020 Lucy’s ex-husband William pleads with her to leave New York and escape to a coastal house he has rented in Maine. Lucy reluctantly agrees, leaving the washing-up in the sink, expecting to be back in a week or two. Weeks turn into months, and it’s just Lucy, William, and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the sea.
Rich with empathy and a searing clarity, Lucy by the Sea evokes the fragility and uncertainty of the recent past, as well as the possibilities that those long, quiet days can inspire. At the heart of this miraculous novel are the deep human connections that sustain us, even as the world seems to be falling apart.
Oh what an absolute joy to be back with Lucy! Following on from Oh William! which I read and loved last year, Lucy by the Sea starts in March 2020 as the Covid pandemic sweeps around the world. Lucy’s ex husband William, who is a scientist, realises before many other people how dangerous this disease could be, especially in a big city, and encourages Lucy to leave her New York apartment and travel to a remote coastal house he has rented in Maine, near his friend Bob Burgess (who also features in one of Strout’s previous novels, The Burgess Boys). Lucy is naïve as to how dangerous this disease actually is (as I think we all were!). It is interesting reading about the pandemic from her point of view as we now know the devastation it caused. She initially thinks she will just be away from home for a couple of weeks.
I loved hearing Lucy’s voice again as she comes to terms with the isolation she feels being locked away in the house with William. What she thinks will just be a couple of weeks, turns into much longer than she could ever have imagined. She feels awful to not be able to see her daughters or to hold them as they have problems, reminding me how it felt to be kept away from loved ones. We feel the shock she experiences as she starts to learn of people she knows who have Covid and have died or become seriously ill.
I love this series of books so much and would happily read about Lucy over and over again. I also liked how the author brings in characters she has featured in other novels including Bob Burgess (who became a particularly good friend to Lucy on their socially distanced walks) and Olive Kitteridge is also mentioned in passing.
Another wonderful book from Strout, which I devoured – highly recommended.
Many thanks to Viking for the proof copy.
About the author
Elizabeth Strout is the author of several novels, including: Abide with Me, a national bestseller and BookSense pick, and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. In 2009 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her book Olive Kitteridge. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker. She teaches at the Master of Fine Arts program at Queens University of Charlotte.
I don’t think I’ve ever read this author. Fantastic review 💕
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Thank you so much – if you are going to start then start at the beginning of this series, My Name is Lucy Barton
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[…] Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout […]
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