Cover Image: Lucy by the Sea

Lucy by the Sea

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Member Reviews

Pros: I was surprised to see a new Elizabeth Strout book so soon after Oh William!, but I immediately wanted to read it and continue knowing Lucy Barton’s story. I also enjoyed reading about characters from the author’s other books, including Bob Burgess and Olive Kitteridge.

This book picks up soon after where Oh William! left off and explores Lucy and William’s time spent quarantining together during the COVID-19 pandemic. It felt very of the moment and like an accurate depiction of what many Americans experienced during the first year of the pandemic. It examines loneliness and grief and explores why people responded differently to things like mask wearing and social distancing.

When reading the Lucy Barton books, I often remind myself that Elizabeth Strout wrote this book, not Lucy Barton, because the books read/feel like memoir rather than fiction. I think Elizabeth Strout is such a dependable writer, and her character-driven books are a wonderful break from the plot-driven books that I regularly read.

Cons: I can see how the topic of this book (the pandemic) will be “too soon” for some readers and that they may want to finish living this history before reading about it.

4+ stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the opportunity to read this book!

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This is quintessential Lucy Barton -- thoughtful, slow-paced, engaging but not exciting. It follow on the events in Oh William!, bringing in snippets of some of Strout's other characters as well.

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The real star of any Elizabeth Strout novel is her voice. Her sentences are simple, clean, and elegant.. Her main character, Lucy Barton, is always, eventually, able to examine her feelings until she can express them with a rare eloquence. We spend time with Lucy and her thoughts, while not a lot happens around her, and yet there is a story here that does not drag.

This is a pandemic story. The world is going into lockdown before Lucy can absorb what is happening. Luckily for Lucy, her ex-husband, William, comes to her aid, insisting that she evacuate New York City with him, to a place on the coast of Maine. He also makes arrangements for their two daughters.

When life suddenly becomes unrecognizable to her, Lucy expresses how alone and adrift she feels, bereft for her late husband, her apartment, and her purpose. Lucy feels like she is losing her mind, and can’t concentrate on reading or writing. As time goes on, she makes some friends in Maine, and settles into this house with her ex-husband.

Strout’s prior books have shed more light on the love and friendship between Lucy and William. It’s complicated, and within these pages, their relationship does take a different turn. Has Lucy been so wrapped up in her daughters’ marital issues that she doesn’t see the possible problems ahead, for herself? That door is obviously left open, to be continued.

I loved the backdrop of this installment of Lucy Barton’s history, the little house perched atop a hill overlooking a turbulent sea. It can reflect and foreshadow so many things…

Lucy by the Sea is another beautiful novel by Elizabeth Strout, I enjoyed it immensely, and thank Random House books and Netgalley for giving me the special opportunity to read this and write a review!

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Even though this book will not be officially released until September 2022, any new book by Elizabeth Strout in my hands always seems to show how little self-control I have.

In this story Lucy (My Name if Lucy Barton), (Anything is Possible) and (Oh, William!) is convinced by her ex-husband William to pack a bag and flee her apartment in New York City with him, just prior to COVID shutting down the city. Lucy, a writer, was scheduled to leave for Europe on a book tour, but William, a scientist has convinced her to do what he says. The couple has been divorced for years but have remained friends and have two adult daughters. William has rented a house by the sea in Maine from an old friend and, he has reconnected with a sister that until the last few years he never knew that he had. Although living together after being divorced for many years takes some getting used to, the couple soon fall into some comfortable routines. We also get brief references to some of the characters from her previous books like Olive Kitteridge and Bill Burgess and, insight into their lives of the couple's two daughters.

As always Elizabeth Strout writes with emotion and her characters have so much depth. The author has a way of telling a story that always seems to make me think about how my own life has played out. Marriage, the joys and worries that come with parenthood even when your children are grown and on their own. The pride we feel from the accomplishments, what we have achieved personally and professionally, and, those things that we might have tweaked a bit if there was a chance at a do-over. The Maine setting and isolation from family and friends that many of us felt prior to a vaccine becoming available was palpable in this story. Although this book is part of a series, it could be read as stand alone -- I don't suggest it though as the build up of the series is really what makes each novel special. Elizabeth Strout always manages to hit all the right notes, I'm already looking forward to her 2023 offering (I hope.)

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I’ve enjoyed all of the Lucy Barton novels that I’ve read, and this one was no exception. Lucy’s voice and point of view are always interesting, and I enjoyed reading her thoughts on the pandemic.

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“Lucy by the Sea” was like catching up with an old friend as we both emerge from the pandemic. During our visit, the names of other acquaintances-in-common, such as Bob Burgess and Olive Kitteridge, find their way into the conversation.

“Lucy by the Sea” is Elizabeth Strout’s pandemic book, but have no fear – there are no gory ICU scenes. It is gently told and strikes a chord with the happenstances common to the more fortunate among us who could work from home and/or not live in a viral hotspot. The novel opens in March 2020 with Lucy’s ex-husband -- William, a parasitologist -- urging her to move from NYC to Crosby, Maine to ride out the pandemic with him. Lucy is a bit naïve and doesn’t grasp the alarm surrounding the virus; nevertheless, she goes.

In Maine, Lucy and William fill their days with long walks, jigsaw puzzles, dealing with shortages, fashioning outdoor social spaces, and sorting through old photos. Lucy observes that her hair is falling out and has difficulty concentrating. She struggles with separation from her daughters and dealing with her family in Indiana who scoff at masks and vaccines. During the first year of Covid, William, Lucy, and their daughters make some major life decisions, all the while Lucy endeavors to live by the maxim: “Everyone needs to feel important.” Good advice, regardless of what is going on in the world.

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Lucy, a year after her husband David's death, retreats to the Maine coast with her ex-husband William during Covid. It helps that this novel will come out so soon after Oh William! It helps to not let these characters lapse in your mind too much. I have read all of Elizabeth Strout's novels, and this one intersects most of her main characters from her three series (Lucy Barton and William, the Burgess Boys Bob and Jim, and Olive Kitteridge via another character). While Olive Kitteridge is deeply implanted in my mind, I wasn't as fond of the novel The Burgess Boys as much, and my memory was eluding me on their backstory. Strout does do a little refresher, though, which I appreciated for the Burgess Boys.

Like Oh William!, this follow-up is full of stream of consciousness and very small vignettes, mostly Lucy's observations during pandemic life with her perspective of a 70ish year old woman who has had a rough life, divorced her first husband after his affair, remarried, and became widowed. While I enjoyed the very tiny (often just a paragraph or two) vignettes in Oh William!, I was wanting lengthier vignettes in this novel. Time would jump more than I wanted; maybe it's more that the transitions weren't as smooth as in Oh William!

There also weren't as many funny (witty) moments in this novel. It felt there was a lot of "this person got the virus," and then a couple pages later another person gets the virus. I don't think it's the recency of the pandemic that lowers the mood; I was just on pins and needles that someone would die - of the virus, of old age, of cancer, etc. That kept me from having a wry smile on my face as I did throughout Oh William!

The speed at which this one was released after Oh William! is probably not doing Lucy by the Sea many favors because I think you can easily see that I enjoyed the predecessor more. A lot more? No. A little bit more? Definitely.

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first of all, lucy, you had no idea. you thought things were bad at the beginning of 2022. you had no idea (i'm writing this on the day the supreme court overturned roe v wade, and in the week in which it dealt lethal blows to key civil rights).

but also, lucy, you did have an idea, and i thank you for saying so clearly and so lucidly how tough our lives have been since march 2020.

the normal things, the normal sadnesses of life, are all deeply magnified, because so much else is sad, so much fucking else. then people drift apart, common grief becomes personal grief, memories find a crack through which to intrude and soon they flood you, and present grief is compounded by past grief.

but then this is elizabeth strout, and she is no one if not a finder of hope, redemption, connection, light. come to have your last three years xrayed for you, stay for the hope.

finally, an observation: i had to remind myself, over and over, the lucy burton does not = elizabeth strout. one's views and not necessarily the other's views. this is important. you will see why.

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I was very excited to learn that Elizabeth Strout had written more about Lucy Barton. Not only have I read and listened to the book but I also was able to see a wonderful one-woman production of "My Name is Lucy Barton"by Laura Linney in January 2020. It was also great to read more about her ex-husband in "Oh William." The question is whether or not people who have not read the previous novels can relate and get into this one. I think they can because Elizabeth Strout does an excellent job of recapping Lucy's life. To be honest, it was jarring to read about the pandemic but I think it was handled well and I am so happy that I was able to get this ahead of his publication date!

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Another beautifully written masterpiece by Elizabeth Strout! I have read almost every book by this author, and this latest one did not disappoint. We get view the pandemic through the eyes of the beloved, but sometimes crotchety Lucy Barton, a character that I have gotten to know in past books. Her ex-husband William and daughters Becka and Chrissie play strong roles in this story, as does sweet Bob Burgess, from The Burgess Boys; and even references to Olive Kitteridge…I enjoy books with overlapping characters like these! Like many of this author’s books, this story is relatively short, but dense, so readers will want to take their time soaking in every word and powerful observation. I really loved it!

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Random House for the advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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I adore Elizabeth Strout's books so much. She is such a wonderful storyteller and the simplicity of her words and her subjects are what make them so special. The fact that this takes place during the pandemic doesn't necessarily make this a COVID story, it is more about how one woman =, and her extended family, deal with things during it. It felt very real and true to life and Lucy's feelings on the subject and the time she is in reflect what a lot of people were thinking and feeling. I don't know how Elizabeth Strout is always able to make ordinary life read as such an extraordinary story but she always does. I loved the fact that a couple of characters from her other books were in or mentioned in this one. This definitely works as a stand-alone but highly recommend you read My Name Is Lucy Barton, Anything Is Possible, and Oh William! as they too are very enjoyable. This is a short book and I was so into it I was able to read it in a single sitting. All. The. Stars.

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At the onset of the novel, we see our protagonist Lucy Barton being whisked away to a “house on a small cliff on the coast of Maine” by her ex-husband and friend Dr. William Gerhardt. William, a parasitologist by profession, is concerned for Lucy’s well-being. Her history of asthma renders her vulnerable as the coronavirus that has already ravaged Europe is making its way into the United States. William also urges their daughters and their husbands to leave New York for the time being. While Chrissy and her husband take his advice and leave New York before the shelter-in-place orders take effect, Becka and her husband do not. Though it takes a while for Lucy and William to adjust to their new surroundings in Crosby, Maine , they gradually settle in, make friends and reorganize their lives in keeping with the rules and restrictions imposed during these challenging times.

As the narrative progresses we get to know more about Lucy’s daughters and their respective lives- their childhood, professional and personal lives and their bond with their parents. While Lucy still grieves for her late second husband David, she finds herself comforted by William’s presence but remains concerned for the well-being of her daughters both of whom are experiencing rough patches in their relationships. Lucy's thoughts often take her back to her childhood and memories of her impoverished upbringing in Amgash, Illinois and her dysfunctional family. We see moments in which she drowns herself in memories and regrets over all that has gone wrong in her life, doubting her self worth and her role in the lives of others but we also witness how she picks herself up with the help of new friends, William and her daughters bringing her back to her present-day reality. Not everything or everyone is perfect, but life never is and Lucy is doing the best she can just like the rest of us.

It is easy to relate to Lucy’s feelings of disconnect and isolation during lockdown , the questioning of her life and her relationships, dealing with the loss of friends and family from Covid and her efforts to embrace the new normal as a way of life. Her struggles are real and often so relatable that at times you need to take a pause and breathe and remind yourself that Lucy is a fictional character. But Elizabeth Strout's thought-provoking, simple yet elegant narrative makes readers feel as if they have become a part of her story, and in a way we are, every one of us having been impacted by the pandemic in one way or another! As the story takes us through 2020 - both the pandemic and other real-world events that impacted the social and political landscape of the country - the author’s tone while dealing with sensitive issues remains respectful, restrained and most importantly, compassionate. While some of Strout’s characters from her previous novels are referenced in this story, we also get to meet a few familiar characters when their paths cross with Lucy’s.

Introspective, insightful and so beautifully real, Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout is an exquisite novel that I would not hesitate to recommend. However, I feel reading the preceding books in the Amgash series prior to this one would enable the reader to fully appreciate and feel invested in the character and her story.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for approving my request for a digital review copy of this novel. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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Lucy by the Sea is an honest and pragmatic way of looking at the pandemic that she and all of us are living through. Her thoughts, actions and and sensibility keeps her steady as she conforms to a new way of life and the daily reactions she shares. Of course she is side by side with William. This is a delightful story and version of life in a pandemic. Loved it! Thank you. @NetGalley@LucybytheSea@RandomHouse

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I love everything by Elizabeth Strout and Lucy by the Sea

It takes place in the era of Covid (that gives a lot of material!) but Strout is able to handle and address it in a wonderful way.
Lucy goes to Maine with her ex husband. Given the age, there really isn't too much for them to do.

This was a change for me, reading about an older couple even a divorced one, was very intersting and getting the perspective of 2020 from Lucy's view also gave me pause. Now I dont feel that their ages were old. Both were 70, which honestly is not that old at all (I look at my mom who is now 73 and I would never know it)

This was a great read!

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Pogo-stick time in Maine!

OMG OMG OMG! I grabbed my pogo stick for this one, I guarantee you! The terrain is rough because the story takes place in a house on a cliff in Maine, so I have to watch the road here to make sure I don’t go flying off the edge. Speaking of edges, this book is the opposite of edgy. It’s low-key to the nth degree, but I loved it. I always proclaim, rather proudly and loudly, that I don’t like quiet books, and look, here I am, pogo-sticking away!

COVID has just hit New York City, and Lucy’s ex, William, has whisked her off to Maine to hide out with her. They’re both around 70, so getting away from the virus is a good idea. Basically we’re stuck in the house with them, except for short walks, and an occasional socially-distanced visit with local friends and with their two daughters in Connecticut. We’re stuck in the house but we’re also stuck in Lucy’s head, and it’s both comfy and illuminating there. Strout manages to make the mundane so fascinating. Lucy is a keen observer of what’s happening with the people around her, but her real claim to fame is her ability to analyze her own feelings. She is wise and relatable. Strout really knows how to go deep into someone’s psyche.

Strout is one of my favorite authors. The funny thing is, her writing style always takes me a little while to get used to. Her sentences are simple and there’s sort of a monotone going on. The book is pretty damn quiet, but the smothered tone somehow makes the emotions stand out more; it’s a cover for all the feelings that are in the lines and between them. At first I was antsy to speed up the voice. Spit it out, hurry it up, match the pace of my chatterbox inside me, please! My brain feels animated, Lucy’s seems coated in Valium. But after a while, I was mesmerized. Nevermind that the characters are passive—which I usually can’t stand. I started to settle into the style. I even started to see the world through Lucy’s eyes, and I heard her voice in my head! I mean, I really heard her voice—so much that I realized I was channeling Strout, thinking sentences aloud in my head that sounded just like Lucy’s. Strout has said, as did Lucy, that she always wants to know what it feels like to be another person. Well, she sure made me feel like Lucy! (Of course, I was a little schizo for a while! LOL, no biggie!)

Strout’s secret sauce, I think, is her ability to show Lucy’s feelings instead of telling us about them. And Lucy talks like we’re sitting there with her. She often opens with phrases like, “I will tell you this,” which is cozy and personal. Lucy is so likeable, so smart, so real. There’s always melancholy but at the same time there is zest. She looks at her mistakes and her reasons for choices, and she doesn’t cut herself any slack. Her insight just blows me away. She talks about loneliness, death, regret, and how hard it is to know another human.

It didn’t hurt that I could relate so much to the story. First, there’s COVID, and Strout really has the picture down pat. Lucky for me, I find stories about COVID to be cathartic, not overly depressing. I was constantly nodding my head, saying yes, that’s exactly how it was as COVID began. Second, Lucy is an old fart like I am. And like me, she has two grown daughters, she hangs out with her ex, and she worries a lot about all three of them.

This book, unlike her others, is topical. The backdrop is COVID, and she also makes a few references to current events, like the election and January 6th. Funny coincidence: I ran across her mention of the attack on the Capitol on the same day the hearings started and I began watching. Strange!

This is the third Lucy novel—the first two are My Name Is Lucy Barton and Oh, William. There’s also a collection of short stories, Anything Is Possible, where Lucy takes the stage a lot. Lucy By the Sea works fine as a stand-alone, but it’s enhanced bigtime if you’ve read about Lucy before. A few characters from past books make appearances, and it’s a kick to see them again.

Well, I think I’ve reached my allotted time for gushing. Bottom line: Strout lovers will be in heaven, and newbies will be awed, I suspect, when they get their hands on this book. Line up for this one!

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

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Are we ready for a book about 2020 yet? Do I want to read about an unexciting family and what it was like for them to live through the early days of the pandemic? The George Floyd incident and the resulting unrest? The election? The events of January 6th? The divisiveness caused by all of these things and THEN the vaccine controversies?

The answer is no. I do not. To me this was a lazy subject chosen by an incredibly gifted writer. But it is too soon. The wounds are still too fresh. And the pandemic is not over. I know people who have Covid right now. It's far from over. (What's next? A book about the fallout of the Ukranian/Russian war and monkey pox?)

Let's let the dust settle first. These last two years have been incredibly tumultuous. All of us have been affected.

This is a subject that needed to be shelved for a few more years. I didn't enjoy it at all.

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This is the best book I have read this year! I would like to be friends with Lucy and share experiences with her.
Her experiences during the recent pandemic crystalized and helped me assess my feelings and responses.
Her characters are familiar, family and friends that have appeared in most of her books. Even William is back!
Read it.

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i really liked this book surprisingly
usually middle-aged women litfic is not up my alley but this is a really interesting and non-obnoxious look at the pandemic and the way it affected modern life
elizabeth strout is really good at writing super simple scenes but imbuing them with a lot of meaning and emotion and i felt that this book was a truthful depiction of pandemic life

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Thanks for the free digital book PRH International in exchange for my honest review. #PRHInternationalPartner #ad #prhinternational

Lucy by the sea is a novel about Lucy Barton and a follow-up on My Name is Lucy Barton, Anything is Possible, Oh William!. But you don't necessarily need to read those first to appreciate this book.

Elizabeth Strout is one of my favorite authors because her writing is simple (as in readable), beautiful, raw, heartfelt, and above all human.

After reading a fictional novel about the pandemic earlier this year, I felt it wasn't a pleasant topic to read about yet. It was a stressful time for most of us, and we are all happy all is back to normal. But this book felt like an older friend was catching up with me, sharing her very personal stories with me during that time. There are no dramatic ICU scenes in this book for example.

Lucy Barton is a widow, and right before the pandemic starts, her ex-husband William decides to take her away from unsafe New York to Maine. Lucy talks about her relationship with her late husband, David, and ex William. But the book is also about uncertainty, feeling lost, grief, her life in New York, her daughters, and her reflections on the past which will always be with her no matter her age or location.

There are several moments in the book where Lucy cries out to the ''nice mother'' she made up, which were genuinely touching. It shows that no matter our age, we still can feel lost; we still need a mom figure from time to time.

Another memorable scene is the policeman she watches in his car. She wonders what it's like to be a policeman. I feel that makes writing and reading such a beautiful experience. To be able to experience someone else's life.

''Mom, I am so confused! And the nice mother I had made up said, I know you are, Lucy. But it will work out. You just hang tight, honey, that's all you need to do.''

Also, can we talk about the ending? Is there going to be another Lucy and William book? Are Becka and Chrissy right?

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Elizabeth Strout continues Lucy Barton's story as she passes the year of lock down with her first husband William. The elephant in the room for the reader is, have you read all of Strout's other books? Not just the three earlier Lucy books, but also the Olive Kitteridge books, and The Burgess Boys. Because Lucy by the Sea is so enriched by the knowledge of the characters' backstories, I can't imagine starting here. Specific to . . . by the Sea is the very accurate depiction of the restrictions and fears of Covid, how we lived and coped, or didn't. Highly recommended. But do yourself a favor and read them all, and throw in Amy and Isabelle and Abide with Me.

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