“My Name is Lucy Barton,” by Elizabeth Strout

Novel, 2016

Powerful, effective account of an estranged mother and daughter, catching up and trying to understand and reconcile their lives and their relationship when the mother sits and looks after her child in hospital. The focus on the relationship excludes other family ties and characters, with the shadows cast by husbands and children filled, to some extent, with nurses and idealised doctors, but this only sharpens the absolute pull as the main drive of the story. The dislocation of time, class, ambition and desire are beautifully set out and roll from one gossipy recollection to another, in a short, but very readable book which exerts quite a hold over the reader.

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