Cover Image: Lucy by the Sea

Lucy by the Sea

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Member Reviews

Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me an ARC!
Unfortunately I DNFed this, it just didn’t catch my attention and maybe I’ll get into it again when I’m in the perfect headspace to give this another try! But I would buy and recommend this to others definitely!
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Although I typically would not be interested in any sort of story covering the pandemic, this was lovely. It was a very unique method of storytelling to me, but thoroughly enjoyable. I actually went into this story rather blind, without having read any of the three preceding novels, but that did not hinder my enjoyment in the slightest! This was a story about a woman named Lucy as she navigates life during the pandemic, but with a focus on family and friends. She is strangely close to her ex-husband, William, but he is kind and caring, always guiding her. This story explores her friendships throughout such trying times and her relationship with her children. This would be a  really nice beach or weekend read. The characters felt so real and the pacing was perfect. Slow, yet easy, so not boring.
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After a reread of O William, I settled in with this book. It was nice to check in with the characters again and I did think that it was logical and inevitable that Lucy and William ended up together again. What I find frustrating though is how little the characters exhibit any real curiosity about the world or each other. Sometimes that can feel a bit claustrophobic while reading the book.
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Listened to the audiobook. Narrator was excellent. Hard to listen to at times as Strout’s words were so close to my own feelings about these terrible times. At once funny and sad, Strout’s words are perfect as usual in her narrative set during the pandemic.
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Beautiful writing. Poignant. Heartfelt. Moving, as always. Elizabeth Strout never fails to write a story full of emotional depth that tugs at my heartstrings.
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“One proof of Elizabeth Strout’s greatness is the sleight of hand with which she injects sneaky subterranean power into seemingly transparent prose. Strout works in the realm of everyday speech, conjuring repetitions, gaps and awkwardness with plain language and forthright diction, yet at the same time unleashing a tidal urgency that seems to come out of nowhere even as it operates in plain sight.”—The New York Times Book Review
If you've been around any time at all here, you already know that I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Strout's work. I was introduced to her with Olive Kitteridge, thirteen years ago; and I've since read five more of her books between that one and this one. You wouldn't' have to have read those same six books before reading this one; but it does make reading it that much more fun, as Strout routinely references characters from previous books in her current books. Here the Burgess brothers(The Burgess Boys), Olive Kitteridge (also from Olive Again) and several other characters from those books reappear, as well as the characters from the three Lucy Barton books that proceeded this one. It's one of the things I so enjoy about Strout's books. It's like catching up with old friends when you come upon them in other books, old friends it is clear that Strout isn't ready to say goodbye to just yet. Rightly so - they are marvelous, nuanced, relatable characters. 

But what I most love about Strout's books is her completely unique writing style, a style that, as the quote above says, incorporates everyday speech, repetitions, gaps, awkwardness. There is nothing flowery about Strout's writing and yet it manages to paint every bit as vivid a picture of her characters and settings as books twice as long. 

Just when I thought that I was beginning to agree with Kirkus Reviews on the regular, I, once again, find myself completely disagreeing with them about this one. They called this book a "disappointment" and said Strout's voice was "positively worn out." To be fair, at this point we know these characters - that initial spark that readers feel when they find new characters they grow fond of is gone. Which feels a little bit like the point to me. 

William and Lucy have known each other for decades, they've been married and divorced and they're girls are grown adults. The spark of new love is gone. But there is a comfort, when they find themselves isolated together, with being with someone you know so well. Especially when there are, in fact, some new things to learn about that person. I learned new things about these characters in Lucy By The Sea, while being comforted by meeting these old friends again. There was nothing disappointing about this book for me.
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Reading Lucy by the Sea three years almost to the day that the pandemic was declared brought back so many memories.  The account of the character's feelings and observations were spot on.  

I usually don't like books that doesn't have a lot of dialog but I really enjoyed Lucy's insights on the events as they played out.

Lucy's ex-husband, William, who is on top of the pandemic and what's to come, convinces Lucy to go with him to Maine to escape NY City.  Lucy goes, not knowing what's ahead and unsure if she will return.

Being together in Maine brings to light mistakes made and renewed feelings.  Lucy is thrilled to be able to see her children (who had also left the city and were in Connecticut) and see they were ok.  

This is the first story I have read surrounding the pandemic and I have to say it was one that I enjoyed even the times it's based on I did not enjoy.
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Lucy Barton is always a quirky character and even in her later years she tries so hard to make sense of her life. She and exhusband, William, spend the entire Covid lockdown together in Maine.
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Where are my Lucy Barton fans at? I’ve now read all four installments of Elizabeth Strout’s Amgash series, and truly enjoyed them all. But my gosh, I gotta say that book number four, Lucy by the Sea was incredible, and by far my very favorite of the series. This novel made me feel things. Ohhhh, so many things. I just want to preface this review with a slight warning, or a heads-up, rather. I really don’t want to scare you off, but I must tell you that the Covid-19 pandemic is a MAJOR backdrop to this novel. Lucy by the Sea will take you back to the spring of 2020, there’s no denying that. I know a lot of readers refuse to read about that horrible time period, and believe it’s too soon. I get that. I absolutely do. I think I must be an outlier because for some strange reason, reading about it brings me a weird sense of comfort. I really can’t explain it. Maybe it’s the whole, “we’re all in this together” sort of vibe that when reading about it, it brings me peace, proof, and confirmation that it was an absolute shitty time for everyone, not just me. It was a terribly lonely time, but I was not alone in my feelings.

Anyways, back to the book. Lucy and her ex-husband, William are a divorced elderly couple who have remained friends over the years, and have decided to quarantine together in Maine during the early days of the pandemic. This novel tells the story of their experience, and it’s extremely relatable. As always, Strout’s writing is absolutely beautiful and heartfelt. Her words emit so much emotion from me when I read them. I have a feeling that I’ll be a lot like Lucy when I’m older. I think I connected to this novel so much because I had the same reaction to the entire experience as she did. We are both empaths, and had similar thoughts, feelings, and worries. I’m sure a lot of women, and especially mothers related to Lucy during this horrific time in our not-so-distant history. This novel is incredibly thought-provoking, and made me think a lot about myself, my family, my friends, and how much the pandemic has changed me. I loved this story so much. Lucy Barton, you will always have my heart. I adore you. 5/5 stars for Lucy by the Sea.
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After a few pages I was so enthralled with this book, I could (almost) have skipped eating to be able to keep on reading.  Stout has a wonderful way of combining simple language and short sentences with interesting, complex characters.  Those of us who are Stout fans already knew many of the characters, but there are new characters too.
The story takes place during the pandemic.  She does an amazing job of bringing forth the dilemmas people faced during this time.  I consider it a ‘must reas’.
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Thank you to Random House Publishing Group - Random House, Random House and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

This book follows along the story of Lucy Barton.  Elizabeth Strout plugs along and this time places Lucy in the situation of a Covid Lockdown.  Going into this book not aware of this , it was an interesting surprise to find myself in the world of lockdown again.  I found this story just as enjoyable as the previous books in this Amgash series.  Lucy is such a likable character,  and one I'm finding more relatable as I get closer to her age.  
Recommended for fans of Lucy Barton and Elizabeth Strout.  An enjoyable and smooth read.
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3.5 🌟 Rounded up

Love Lucy Barton.

This book explains the wild + weirdness of living during the pandemic.

And shows us how two divorcés can travel together and remain best of friends. That is, if they're open to it.

This book was short and sweet with typical Lucyisms. My favorite part was Lucy's advice to her daughters. It made me miss not having a parent to parent me as an adult.

I am grateful to have received the advanced ebook from Random House via the NetGalley app.
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I love Elizabeth Strout books and Lucy has fast become a favorite character for me. I love learning more about her difficult childhood, Her children, Her previous marriage and how she coped as a widow before reuniting with her first husband as friends to begin and then as lovers you really feel that you are getting front row seats to lucys life and the writing is beautiful
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I absolutely loved this book. It hooked me and kept me turning pages until I was done. Finished it in two days! The character development was strong, and the premise was unique enough that it didn't feel like anything else I've read.
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A smart, poignant addition to Strout's body of work. The directness and simplicity of Strout's writing style allows her to convey emotion in a. way that feels close to the bone and never false.
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Elizabeth Strout has a gift for writing simply yet elegantly and she did it very well with this book.  It's March 2020 and her ex-husband and friend William, a scientist, is able to see that this virus that is starting to appear in our world is going to be life-changing.  He is able to take whisk Lucy away to Crosby, Maine from New York City but has mixed results getting their daughters out of the city.  Just days after they leave NYC the country shuts down.  This story takes the reader through the first year of the pandemic as seen through the eyes and feelings of Lucy. Elizabeth Strout so  accurately channels what many of us felt during the pandemic through her character Lucy.  The feelings of aimlessness and failure to concentrate and the heartbreak of losing loved ones and not being able to visit ones  children is well written.  Oftentimes, I felt myself thinking, she's writing about me.  I am just like Lucy Barton and I had all these same feelings as her during the pandemic.  I was not alone in all of this.

There are probably some people who do not want to read and relive their pandemic experience and I certainly understand that and it's not something I want to do either but I feel Elizabeth Strout did a very good job writing about the fears of people during this time.

Thank you NetGalley for an ARC of this book.
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Oh, Lucy Barton! I will continue to read her adventures until Elizabeth Strout stops writing them, which I hjope never happens. Lucy Barton is the most likable flawed character in recent literary history. The simple yet direct and specific way her voice is written is incredibly easy to connect with and to understand. Her thoughts and her feelings are unapologetically hers, and she owns them in a way that inspires me as a real human. 

This time we encounter her navigating the pandemic at a house in Maine with William, her ex-husband who never seems to fully become an ex. Lucy is out of her element, but gradually adjusts to her new circumstances and the people it introduces her to. We see her go through an enormous period of growth, and even though it's a relatively short book, I felt as though I had grown with her. Always, always 5 stars for Lucy Barton and Elizabeth Strout.
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Lucy is a widow, and she misses her second husband, David, terribly. Her entire life, or most of it, anyway, has been marred by deprivation, cruelty, and tragedy. Then finally she meets and marries a lovely man, and they are happy together until death parts them. She thinks of him constantly. But now the pandemic has taken hold, and although she isn’t really paying attention, her first husband, William, is. William is single now, too, and he and Lucy see one another from time to time because of their two daughters, both grown now. And so in this, the fourth of the Lucy Barton books, William obtains the keys to a friend’s cabin, clear up on the coast of Maine, and he swoops in and takes Lucy away with him, away from the contagion. Just for a week or two, she figures. 
My thanks go to Net Galley and Penguin Random House for the invitation to read and review. This book is for sale now. 

I must confess that after reading the first two in the series, My Name is Lucy Barton and Anything is Possible, I decided to give it a rest. Strout is a literary genius, of that I have no doubt, but the stories she wrote were so grim, and her formidable authorial skill only made them sadder. I decided for my own good to walk away. 

But then I was invited to read and review the third, Oh William, and early reviews suggested more joy and less wretchedness, and after I read it, I was glad I had done it. That holds true here as well, although, like Becka and Chrissy, Lucy and William’s daughters, I am a little concerned for her. But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

William is more alert than Lucy, or perhaps, like so many, she has been in denial. “It’s odd how the mind does not take in anything until it can.” She is reluctant to go. A friend has died; what about the funeral? She shouldn’t miss that! The friend, however, has died of COVID19, and William tells her there won’t be a funeral. But then…what about her hair appointment? Her lunch date? Cancel them, he tells her. 

The most delicious thing about the Lucy books is the depth with which Strout develops character. In fact, there’s almost no action taking place. The books are eighty or ninety percent character. So naturally, the reader that needs an intricate plot to be happy won’t find satisfaction here, but those of us—and I am one of them—that are happiest exploring rich, dynamic characters are in for a treat. 

It’s a strangely nostalgic journey. So many of the attitudes and expectations that gripped us during the early days of the pandemic are in full flower in these pages, and though it’s only been a couple of years, it was such a unique period that I find myself nodding when one character or another says something that sounds exactly like me, or a family member, or a friend. 

But back to Lucy and William. They were married for nearly twenty years before he ran off with someone else, and now they have been divorced for about the same length of time. When Lucy asks William why he invited her to go with him, he tells her that he wanted to save her life; but in fact, there’s more to it, and this becomes clearer as we progress. And as much as I want dear Lucy to be happy, I also want to remind her that a man that will up and leave after twenty years for no reason other than an infatuation with someone else, is unlikely to be trustworthy on an emotional level. Watch yourself, Lucy. It’s good that you’re out of the germ pool, but hang onto your heart. 

As for me, I look forward to seeing how things develop; the ending leaves little doubt that there must be an Amgash #5. 

Faithful readers will want to read this book; for newbies, you can read them out of order and they’ll make sense, but because Strout is building her character as we go, it’s better to read them in order if you can. And also for newbies: Lucy and William are both Caucasian Boomers, and so the most enthusiastic readers will probably come from this demographic. Highly recommended.
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In "Lucy by the Sea," Elizabeth Strout returns to a set of characters we have come to know well through the series of books that started with "I Am Lucy Barton." Adding to the familiarity is that Lucy is living, at least temporarily, in the fictional Maine town inhabited by Olive Kitteridge, another beloved Strout heroine. "Lucy by the Sea" captures the confusion and terror of the COVID pandemic's earliest days. Lucy and her ex-husband, William, flee New York City together. She finds herself asking the questions we all asked ourselves in 2020: Do we need to wear masks everywhere? Will it be safe to go in a restaurant again? Can I hug my loved ones? It's hard to read and to revisit those feelings, but Strout does an excellent job recording the sadness and uncertainty as well as the occasional bursts of joy that could be found in nature or moments of unexpected human connection. Lucy and William aren't easy to love, but that's what makes it interesting to see how they navigate this crisis. As ever, Strout’s plain, unadorned prose packs a huge punch. I found myself crying more than once.
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The writing is exquisite and will spellbind readers. 
Many thanks to Random House and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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