Book Review: Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout

Posted September 16, 2022 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 36 Comments

Lucy by the Sea
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

by Elizabeth Strout
Publication Date September 20, 2022
Published by Random House Publishing Group
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Genres: Fiction / Family Life / General, Fiction / Literary, Fiction / Sagas
Pages: 304
Format: ARC

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

From Pulitzer Prize–winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Strout comes a poignant, pitch-perfect novel about a divorced couple stuck together during lockdown—and the love, loss, despair, and hope that animate us even as the world seems to be falling apart.

With her trademark spare, crystalline prose—a voice infused with “intimate, fragile, desperate humanness” (The Washington Post)—Elizabeth Strout turns her exquisitely tuned eye to the inner workings of the human heart, following the indomitable heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton through the early days of the pandemic.

As a panicked world goes into lockdown, Lucy Barton is uprooted from her life in Manhattan and bundled away to a small town in Maine by her ex-husband and on-again, off-again friend, William. For the next several months, it’s just Lucy, William, and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the moody, swirling sea.

Rich with empathy and emotion, Lucy by the Sea vividly captures the fear and struggles that come with isolation, as well as the hope, peace, and possibilities that those long, quiet days can inspire. At the heart of this story are the deep human connections that unite us even when we’re apart—the pain of a beloved daughter’s suffering, the emptiness that comes from the death of a loved one, the promise of a new friendship, and the comfort of an old, enduring love.

Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout is the fourth book in her popular Amgash series.  This can be read as a standalone but is so much better if you read the previous books in the series.  Lucy by the Sea is a fascinating look into a divorced couple and their experience with the COVID pandemic and lockdown.  

Lucy Barton is still grieving her husband, David’s death almost a year ago.  Her ex-husband William calls her and tells her he wants to take her out of the city, to Maine, in order to avoid the new virus that is just starting to spread in New York City.  Lucy is skeptical but eventually agrees to go with William to a small town on the coast of Maine for the duration of the virus.  

This is my second book by Elizabeth Strout and I enjoyed this much more than Oh William, and I think it’s because I was already familiar with the characters and her very unique writing style.  Elizabeth Strout’s writing style is very different than anything else I’ve read before, and it’s a style you will either love for its simplicity or dislike entirely.  

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the book, considering the subject matter.  The pandemic is a world event that affected all of us very much, and I will never forget the way the world changed.  Although it’s not something I want to re-live, I did like the way this book explored the way the virus affected these characters.  With Elizabeth Strout’s very frank way of writing, I saw the pandemic through the eyes of these characters and I enjoyed the way Lucy looks at the world.   

I highly recommend Lucy by the Sea to anyone who enjoys fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout was born in Portland, Maine, and grew up in small towns in Maine and New Hampshire. From a young age she was drawn to writing things down, keeping notebooks that recorded the quotidian details of her days. She was also drawn to books, and spent hours of her youth in the local library lingering among the stacks of fiction. During the summer months of her childhood she played outdoors, either with her brother, or, more often, alone, and this is where she developed her deep and abiding love of the physical world: the seaweed covered rocks along the coast of Maine, and the woods of New Hampshire with its hidden wildflowers.

During her adolescent years, Strout continued writing avidly, having conceived of herself as a writer from early on. She read biographies of writers, and was already studying – on her own – the way American writers, in particular, told their stories. Poetry was something she read and memorized; by the age of sixteen was sending out stories to magazines. Her first story was published when she was twenty-six.

Strout attended Bates College, graduating with a degree in English in 1977. Two years later, she went to Syracuse University College of Law, where she received a law degree along with a Certificate in Gerontology. She worked briefly for Legal Services, before moving to New York City, where she became an adjunct in the English Department of Borough of Manhattan Community College. By this time she was publishing more stories in literary magazines and Redbook and Seventeen. Juggling the needs that came with raising a family and her teaching schedule, she found a few hours each day to work on her writing.

UK Cover:

Have you read Lucy by the Sea? Is it something you would enjoy?

36 responses to “Book Review: Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout

  1. This does sound like a very interesting story. The writing style has me intrigued too. I’m wondering if I would hate it or love it. Excellent review!

  2. I’ve heard such great things about this book and author. I’m glad you loved it so much. I have it on my TBR; I’m just not sure I’m ready to relive the pandemic through literature yet, lol.

  3. Hi Wendy!

    I’ve only read Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, but really do need to Lucy Barton. Your review was lovely and it makes me eager to get my hands on this series.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. Jenny+McClinton

    I am finding it quite interesting how the COVID pandemic is being brought into books more now, although it was a hard time I think reading about other peoples experiences even if fiction is interesting, great review 💕

  5. I’ve read three books by this author and found them all to be quite depressing. I’m glad that you enjoyed this book though Wendy.

    • Then you probably won’t like this one either, Jodie. It’s all about the pandemic, so it’s even more serious than her other books. 🙂

  6. This does sound really interesting, and pandemic reading can be tough for some, I know, but I’m curious to see how this explores that! It is a fascinating topic, even though we lived through it there are so many perspectives and individual stories!

  7. This is one I’d have to get in the right mindset to read. I’m sure I’d enjoy it, but not sure I’m ready to revisit that time yet, lol. Great review, Wendy!

  8. What a beautiful book cover. I’m glad you enjoyed this book, even with the themes of the pandemic, it’s great that the author was able to explore how it affected the characters. Great review Wendy!

  9. Wonderful review Wendy. Glad you enjoyed this so much. I’ve heard many good things about the previous books and do ultimately want to get to these🙂