Member Reviews

I love Lucy oh so much, and Lucy by the Sea was no exception. I felt transported back to the first days of the pandemic and found Lucy by the Sea to be even more relatable than the others in the series. I definitely think the other books are necessary to fully enjoy this one. I don't want to spoil anything, but I'm actually quite happy about the relationship events that happen in this book. I can't wait to find out what is still to come in Lucy and her family's journey.

Was this review helpful?

Lucy By The Sea
By Elizabeth Strout

I found myself waiting for Elizabeth Strout to tell me how the pandemic ended. How it all worked out.

In this book, LUCY BY THE SEA, we’re following Lucy and William. They’ve quarantined themselves at the onset of the pandemic, in a small town at the edge of the earth, in Maine.

As the pandemic wrecks havoc through the world and other cultural and political issues bring us to a breaking point of sorts, William and Lucy hold on to the last vestiges of hope.

Strout’s writing is done in a pattern of sorts. She often revisits words and turns of phrases, even within the same sentence, like a reiteration. A coming back to.

And not only does it provide emphasis and clarity it also feels affirming like an Amen or a Hallelujah. To me, it feels like an enraptured reading experience-a big hug.

There is a line that is written so finitely I had to reread it and highlight it. And sure, they’re just words and sometimes I can be dramatic but there’s something about the carriage of her words that gets me going every time.

This would make an excellent book club choice as there is much to talk about.

LUCY BY THE SEA…⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group - Random House, Random House for the advanced copy!

Was this review helpful?

Lucy is in isolation during the Covid pandemic, along with her ex-husband, in a cottage in Maine. This book brought back the feelings of isolation, loneliness, anxiety, not knowing what was to come and worry about family and friends. The retelling of the George Floyd incident and riots were touched on also. This book brings back every emotion and thought I felt during the pandemic. At first, I thought Lucy by the Sea was just another book set during this time in history, but it was so much more. I enjoyed this book. Thanks to author Elizabeth Strout, Random House Publishing, and NetGalley for providing a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Was this review helpful?

In Lucy by The Sea, Elizabeth Strout brings us back to the life of Lucy Barton and her ex husband William. The book begins as the pandemic is just beginning. William, a scientist, sees the signs early and convinces Lucy that they need to leave New York City before things get out of control. He moves them to a cabin by the ocean in Maine. The story then follows the path of the pandemic, from the quarantines to the vaccine and how it all effects Lucy and her family.
In her perfectly chosen words, Strout describes the many emotions that Lucy feels as the world changes around her. Many of the current events dredge up unhappy memories from her past, and she connects the isolation of the pandemic with the isolation of poverty. We watch as Lucy and William navigate this new world with their daughters as well as their respective families. New friends emerge, and we also visit with familiar characters from past Strout novels.
In her beautiful direct prose Strout captures the emotions that we all felt during the pandemic; the sadness, loneliness, fear and hope. Everyone will connect with some aspect of Lucy's story since it really is the story we all lived. This is a gift to us from Elizabeth Strout, where we are given the space to process the events of the past few years through characters that we know and love.

Was this review helpful?


This book did not disappoint.

Back to Lucy Barton, William, their daughters--but so much more.

Second novel in a row I've read that deals with the pandemic/lockdown, but this one concentrates on it.

At the outset, William uproots Lucy from her life in NYC and heads to a small town in Maine where his friend, Bob Burgess--who also has a significant role--has a [spare] house on the coast [by the sea--duh]!

This can be a standalone novel, but Strout also provides some backstory. Her history with William--their two daughters--Chrissy and Becka and her late [last] husband David. Her family--particularly the [voice] of her dead mother [loved these conversations between the dead and the living], her father, sister Lily, and brother Pete all make appearances. Add in William's long lost half-sister, Lois Bubar and some of the Maine residents she meets. I loved how she looped in Olive Kitteridge --with Charlene Bibber--a woman who worked in a retirement place [a Trumper] who was quite real.

Relationships: love, loss, sadness, marriage, children, panic, grief, and more.

So much was just raw to me. And honest. The way Strout captured the begining [especially] of the pandemic resonated with me. The virus. Disbelief. The uncertainty and the unknown. When one can FINALLY hug! Was this cathartic for her? How true/real?

Her usual spare, simplistic, brilliant prose.

Some of the phrases I loved:

"...privately staggered by grief"
"My mother, because she was my mother, had great gravity in my young life."'
"The rest of the evening I felt quietly awful."
"...plant, almost eight feet tall, standing so shyly on our porch..."

Highly recommend.

4.5; can't quite pull the trigger on 5 stars.

Was this review helpful?

Strout's writing voice is like no other and I will always be drawn to her books. I was happy to spend more time with Lucy and William, but I am somewhat weary of the world and don't really want to reexperience it in fiction, which is otherwise my escape. Nevertheless, 5 stars for writing, storytelling, and for being Elizabeth Strout.

Was this review helpful?

Lucy by the Sea cuts close to the bone as I was in NY during the Pandemic. We are reacquainted with Lucy Barton, who is whisked away from New York by her ex-husband William at the very beginning of the pandemic. They both retreat to a small, rented house in Maine on a cliff. Having both left their apartments, Lucy who is newly widowed takes a small bag, and goes off with William. They both must adapt to living with each other, hearing sounds, cooking and getting used to Maine. William has warned his daughters, Chrissy and Becka. Chrissy leaves, with her husband, while his other daughter decides to stay in Brooklyn. Even his other ex-wife ex-wife and child leave. There is a sense of foreboding, as the Maine weather is colder and they are not truly welcomed in this small Maine town.

As life settles down in the house, Lucy and William adjust to living carefully with pandemic restrictions. They make friends and even start to get closer. William reconnects with his long lost half-sister and repairs their dormant relationship. William also gets involved with a local university and makes a substantial donation to work on potato farming, a move that reflects back to his father and mother, who also lived in Maine. Lucy and William swing between their past and present, as emotions are raw and they cling to each other. Lucy creates a fictional mother and talks to her as she battles her self-worth and achievements. They both struggle, and it is so easy to relate as life took on an ugly haze during the height of Covid. They buy the house and get firmly back together as a couple. The girls, even though they are older are surprised, and reflective on their parents new status.

As the book moves more to the present, we are brought into the political landscape of January 6th, issues of race, consumerism, and questions about how to live in the changing world. Both girls have also gone through lots of changes and in the end the book ends on an optimistic note.

This book drops lots of big questions, as Elizabeth Strout has us look at self-worth, money, marriage and what the true nature of family is. When reading this book it feels as though you maybe thinking some of the same thoughts, it is powerful and sometimes painful.

Read this book if you want to enjoy the style of Elizabeth Strout, and her way of having you think deep about your own reactions to life during the pandemic.

Was this review helpful?

I loved "Oh William," and "Lucy By the Sea" picks up almost exactly where that one left off. Reliving the early days of the COVID pandemic through Lucy's eyes turns out to be a surprisingly emotional experience. How can just two years ago feel like ancient history? Elizabeth Strout brings the horrific feelings of 2020 to life through the tiny details of Lucy and William's days. I inhaled this book.

Was this review helpful?

Strout's beloved character Lucy Barton is back. Lucy and her ex-husband are aware of the potential of a global pandemic and trek away to a house in Maine to find their little spot of safety as the virus becomes more widespread. Their relationship has been tricky but finding themselves quarantined in the same house brings back some memories and provides a built-in partnership when a lot of the unknown and fears surrounding the pandemic get too much to handle. Lucy's train of thought provides some humor, but also raw emotions that we likely all have felt during the pandemic. A very readable story.

Was this review helpful?

“Lucy by the Sea” by Elizabeth Strout explores how the COVID pandemic affected our identities and relationships. Lucy finds herself holed up in a small town in Maine with her ex-husband while grieving the death of her second husband. Although she is not living alone, she is lonely and isolated. Her entire world in New York is forever changed and gone. Her adult daughters fled from the city and are living in Connecticut. Her writing has stopped as well. Thankfully, she befriends one local, who seems to understand her.

I found that the narrator seems very disconnected, and I became frustrated with Lucy because of her inaction. I realize that Lucy’s predicament and helplessness reflect how many of us felt during the pandemic, but at any rate it was too frustrating. Perhaps because we are still in the COVID pandemic it was too early for me to read about a a character’s experience with it. I need some distance from the actual events and fear that surrounded us during the pandemic.

I appreciate Strout’s storytelling but I would not recommend for my students to read because they would not connect with Lucy’s character or situation.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Random House for sharing the advanced copy with me.

Was this review helpful?

March 2020 - Lucy Barton is living her normal life when her ex-husband Williams calls her and tells her to pack a bag because they are temporarily going to live in Maine because of the COVID pandemic. Lucy hasn't been paying attention to the news, so she thinks it will be a short-term thing. She is shocked to learn the extent of the virus and how deadly it can be. At first, she hates everything about Maine but gradually meets some wonderful people (and some not so wonderful people) and begins writing again. Her daughters both go through crises, although at first Lucy is crushed to learn that they can manage their lives without her being on hand at all times (they are 40 year old women, after all). To Lucy's surprise, she and William reconnect in all the ways that matter. This is the fourth book featuring these characters and at first Lucy really irritated me. But as the book went on, I grew to love the characters again. I have read almost all of Elizabeth Strout's books and I highly recommend Lucy by the Sea. While it might help to have read the previous books, it's not really necessary. You can read this one as a stand-alone.

Was this review helpful?

If you're going to read a book about the pandemic it should be by Elizabeth Strout and through the eyes and heart of Lucy Barton. It's like you're taking a walk with her in the seaside of Maine, listening as she reminisces or wonders and brings you a warm mug of tea with her words and observations. Small they seem, but they loom large even in the backdrop of collective trauma. She's one of my favorite narrators.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks Netgalley for allowing me to read this book. Lucy moves to Maine to live with her ex husband and friend during the pandemic. She is scared and is unsure of what will happen next. Being isolated from her kids is hard and she is learning to live day by day. Thus book was very honest in its depiction of life during the pandemic.

Was this review helpful?

Lucy by the Sea is a unique and heartwarming novel written by the talented Elizabeth Strout. Set against the backdrop of the pandemic the characters are well developed and the relationships between them are so realistic and loving. The two main characters are divorced from one another but they are now both single and are together in Maine as they escape New York City because of COVID. The novel is really about relationships, family, forgiveness, betrayal, and most of all hope. Lucy by the Sea should be become another classic by Elizabeth Strout.

Was this review helpful?

I received a free ARC of Lucy by the Sea from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Strout's latest novel visits with familiar characters Lucy and William. Newly divorced (events from Oh, William), parasitologist William clearly understands the impending danger of the Covid pandemic far sooner than Lucy and others. He arranges for the two of them to rent a home in Maine and for their daughters to escape their apartments in New York City. From Maine they watch the news with rising Covid numbers, shuttered Broadway, and refrigerated morgue trucks.

I was reluctant to revisit early 2020 but Strout describes the deep-in-the-belly uncertainty that we all felt with such candor and compassion. Lucy and William are more like longtime friends than characters. As Lucy describes their travel to Maine and the first few months of their isolation, I easily remembered being the only vehicle on I-95 and the closed beaches (even for walkers!) in Ogunquit, Maine. The Kittery Outlet Malls were all closed but the Kittery Trading Post remained open with a full parking lot because the trading post sold guns. And, yes, we did examine license plates in the driveways of the beachfront homes that are vacant most of the year.

But isolation does have its benefits. We examine our own character more and remember the small things that bring us joy and how we can bring joy to others. Lucy and William's past is messy and their adult daughters have adult problems but they are a team, each coaching the other through moments of self-doubt. New people come into their lives as the pandemic ebbs and flows.

As usual, Strout doesn't conclude her novel with a complete ending. There's more life to live, more joy and pain to experience, and Lucy and William have so much more to do.

Lucy by the Sea is wonderful.

Was this review helpful?

This diary of Lucy's was not as appealing to me as the previous books. I don't know if it was the content or repetitive nature of the writing. (I understand that the initial lockdown was repetitive but didn't enjoy reading the same bits over and over )

Lucy writes about the fear of the early days of the pandemic and then lightly skims the political turmoil of the last election and January 6th.. That initial fear and uncertainty seems to bring up fears and anxieties from her early years adding to Lucy's distress and at times withdrawal and causes her to make decisions that the Lucy of previous books wouldn't have made. in my (non-professional) opinion.

I like that Lucy talks to 'The nice mother she had made up' as a way of coping with her reality.

'It's odd how the mind does not take in anything until it can.'

Thank you to Random House for an early copy in exchange for and honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Lucy by the Sea is a beautifully written novel. This tale, taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic, covers feelings of isolation, grief, boredom, uncertainty, aging, familiarity, and mother-daughter relationships. I appreciated being inside Lucy’s head, and I related closet with her character. This isn’t a novel with peaks and valleys. It is a slow, beautifully spun story covering Lucy’s life during the pandemic. I loved it.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.

Was this review helpful?

When I saw a Lucy Barton book available on Net Galley, I rejoiced. When I saw it was about life during COVID, I was torn. I wasn't sure I wanted to read a book about that time period. I shouldn't have worried. This book has the same flavor as the other Lucy Barton books and is every bit as enthralling.

Lucy by the Sea picks up where Oh William left off. Lucy and William are living in Maine as COVID ravages New York City. William and Lucy are older now and are a great comfort to one another. This book is, like the others, a slice of life among interesting characters from all walks of life. It's about finding what's beautiful in every day and in everyone.

Family, loss, perspective, and resilience are themes that run beautifully through this book. And once again, the prose is exquisite. I could read these books again and again. I devour them. This is another winner like all of the rest. If you love the Lucy Barton series, you will love this.

Was this review helpful?

I am a fan of Elizabeth Strout's writing, and I am especially fond of the Lucy character. This book is a recounting of Lucy and her family's pandemic shut down experience. It deals with the fear, isolation and powerlessness of the situation. It also deals with grief and the realities of aging. It brought back my experiences of the lock down, enabling me to relive and reexamine those feelings and time.
I will say that it would be helpful although not necessary for the reader to have read the previous "Lucy" books before reading this one.

Was this review helpful?

Elizabeth Strout once again resurrects the brave and courageous iconic writer, Lucy Barton, and writes movingly and profoundly of Lucy's experiences of lockdown, like so many us not quite grasping initially the implications of Covid 19. It is William in his determination to save her who whisks her away from New York to the Maine coastal town of Crosby, with Lucy having no idea that she will never again return to her apartment. Strout paints an authentic, gentle, intimate, understated and resonating picture of the loneliness, isolation, anxiety, fears, panic, grief, love and loss that Lucy feels, along with the development of her complicated relationship with her ex-husband William, the comfort they find in each other despite their odd irritations with each other, a comfort that leads to them finding their way to each other again, despite his cheating on her in their marriage, something her daughters find more difficult to accept than she expects

Strout exquisitely captures what it is to be human in these challenging times, such as what it means to be family, of being a mother to 2 precious adult daughters with their own issues, Chrissy's miscarriages, the crumbling of Becka's marriage to the poet Trey and its impact on William as he reflects upon and regrets his past infidelities. There is a compassion, non-judgementalism, and a humanity with which the author approaches her characters, many of whom make an appearance from other books, building on old connections whilst there is the simultaneous creation of a web of new connections after having moved to the strangeness of a new place, physically and metaphorically. Lucy makes a heartfelt empathetic connection with Bob Burgess through their walks and socially distanced meetings, he has read her memoir and relates particularly to the issue of growing up in such deep poverty. She begins to understand and see beyond the stereotypical Trump supporters through meeting Charlene at the food pantry, and her sister, Vicky, people living under heavy pressures, part of the troubled communities who have been regarded with contempt and looked down on by establishment circles.

In the darkest of times, Strout provides hope and light in her latest stellar and thought provoking novel, highlighting the time and opportunities available for us to spend in reflections of our current lives, the past, the family, relationships, and growth in developing greater resilience and vital understanding of others who make up our fragile, desperate, and ravaged communities, whilst potentially generating new energies and excitement by moving into new areas professionally, personally and geographically that might have been otherwise unthinkable pre-pandemic. This is a beautiful and contemplative novel that just bursts with heart and underlying wisdom, and a Lucy whose struggles and challenges are a pure joy to follow through the harsh realities and losses of a nightmare pandemic. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

Was this review helpful?