Cover Image: Lucy by the Sea

Lucy by the Sea

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Member Reviews

Not a subject matter I want to revisit. I honestly didn’t finish this. I do not support BLM or anything they stand for. That is not what I want to spend my time reading. BLM encouraged people to harm first responders & as a first responders wife, I Cannot support a book that celebrates them.

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There is no mistaking Elizabeth Strout's distinct storytelling, especially when it comes to heroine Lucy Barton. While "Lucy by the Sea" is the author's third Lucy novel, it's an stand-alone. However, be prepared to read the first two after finishing this one.

This chapter in Lucy's life finds her sharing a rented Maine home by the sea with her ex-husband William. They are hoping to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic free from the devastation in New York. At first, Lucy thinks all the safety measures are unnecessary, but she follows William's lead, never imagining what lies ahead.

As Lucy sees the benefits of her quarantining situation, she wonders why some are lucky in life and others aren't. Strout allows her heroine to describe experiences that most can relate to but may never have been able to put into words. That includes a closer look at the meaning of love, where it starts and how it ends. What draws two people together -- and keeps them together? As Lucy helps William face his past and future, she acknowledges that grief can be shared, but ultimately it's a private journey.

Let's hope that Strout has more in store for Lucy that she'll share with her fans.

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A pandemic novel about an older divorced couple who moves to Maine during lockdown and weathers several storms together (figuratively). I’m new to Strout’s writing and somehow ended up starting at the end of her Amgash series, but my plan is to read through the first three next. I really enjoyed seeing the world through Lucy’s lens - how the past informs the present and seems to bubble up for her no matter what is happening. It’s a very human experience. I also appreciated her relationship with William and how their imperfect history binds them together regardless of their individual flaws and failings.

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A quiet, thoughtful observation about that relatively innocent time at the beginning of the pandemic when we didn't know what was about to hit us as Lucy and her ex-husband William quarantine together.

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thoroughly enjoyed this book. loved to continue following these interesting characters. loved the setting . was able to feel like i was right there with the characters in the book.. i hope there is still a continuation for more to come. great discussion book for any book club. i recommend this to anyone. enjoy

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Oh, how I adore the writing of Elizabeth Strout. Her ability to write so beautifully of the ordinary is wonderful.

In this case, she wrote of things that I experienced during the Covid era, and it was so thoughtful. The bad and frightening things were relatable. I too have been frightened of Covid and people’s unwillingness to follow science. I am horrified by what people I love think they know. Even when we’ve all known people who died, some refuse to believe. It’s mind-boggling. Brainwashing is real.

When people don’t believe what they see with their own eyes ….. when they refuse to hear discrepancies between statements of public figures and determine that when one says something one day, something else the next, then back to the first thing, then onto a third ….. that’s lying. I cannot comprehend how that’s not obvious. Lucy handled that much better than I do.

I highly recommend this book, as well as all the others I’ve read by this author. I hope to finish the rest of her works next year.

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I was hesitant to read a book set during the pandemic, but as I should have expected, Strout handles the subject with care, as she does so many difficult topics. Lucy by the Sea might even be my favorite in the series, because it felt so real (at times unsettlingly so) and the characters developed in ways they had not before. The plot moved slowly, and yet it held my attention from start to finish. It also made me remember, for better or worse, what it was like at the start of the pandemic, in particular before the vaccine was made available. It's strange to realize that I had repressed, how anxious and stressful a time it was, and how much uncertainty we were all coping with and, to some extent, still are. It isn't the easiest read, much perhaps still too raw for many, but it is worthwhile. I do hope the author continues this series, as I've grown attached to Lucy and William and the others and want to know what comes next for them!

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This is another stellar addition to the Lucy Barton series by Pulitzer Prize winning author Elizabeth Strout. Although I wasn’t sure I was ready to read a Covid pandemic book yet, I could not resist the pull of this series. Internally focused, Lucy is able to explore the emotions that make us all human. Perpetually surprised by her own awareness we are given a glimpse into the emotions that drive this story. Another wonderful installment that is not to be missed!

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This is a beautiful novel about the hardest of times. Readers follow Lucy as she slowly comes to understand the magnitude and tragedy of the Covid epidemic.

This quote brings things into focus and puts the reader firmly in Lucy’s world:

Here is what I did not know that morning in March. I did not know that I would never see my apartment again. I did not know that one of my friends and a family member would die of this virus. I did not know that my relationship with my daughters would change in way I could never had anticipated. I did not know that my entire life would become something new.

Strout’s writing is so effective. Like Hemingway, she knows the value of some unembellished prose. This matter of fact style makes the awfulness of Covid even more acute.

Strout has written many novels. I have not read them all. However, I did recognize characters in this story from those that I had read. This, to me, adds to the sense of a universe populated by folks that I feel I know.

I recommend this book about Lucy, William and those around her as they spend time in Maine. It is impactful with tragedy, relationships and the need for resilience.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for this title. All opinions are my own.

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Only Elizabeth Strout would convince me to read a pandemic novel. Lucy is endearing and the emotional journey through processing the last several years of our society makes for an intriguing read. The writing is beautiful and the novel leaves an impression.

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While I haven't always loved books broaching the subject of the pandemic, that wasn't true for me with Lucy by the Sea. It felt like it touched on every little part of 2020 that I can recall so vividly: that feeling of being foggy brained, not knowing what we were getting into, uncomfortable situations and conversations, and finding joy in small moments. I loved that some familiar Strout characters made their way into this book as well. Enjoyable from start to finish.

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Oh this book! What a book. I have never read an Elizabeth Strout book, and it felt a bit like I was walking into a family reunion - all this history that I wasn’t privy to. But I warmed up to everyone and WANTED to be embraced by all these characters. Now I know to go back to the beginning.

I just adored this book so much.

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I wasn’t sure what I would make of a pandemic book, but this novel was utter perfection. It’s a difficult one to review because it’s the fourth of Strout’s Lucy Barton books and, while you don’t have to read them in order, each builds beautifully on the last. In Lucy by the Sea, Strout’s titular character Lucy Barton finds herself leaving New York to quarantine with her ex-husband William at a remote cabin in Maine at the start of the Covid pandemic. What follows is a quiet but moving story that perfectly captures the uncertainty, anxiety, grief, and loss that has followed. While I think you could jump in with this book and appreciate Strout’s craft and storytelling, for me, it was particularly special to view the pandemic through the eyes of a narrator I already new and loved. I’d particularly recommend this to anyone who has read Strout’s Lucy books, whether or not you’ve loved them in the past.

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Lucy by the Sea picks up the life of some of Strout's characters - Lucy Barton, her ex-husband William, their daughters and Bob Burgess in the covid years. Lucy has lost her devoted second husband David and William insists that she abandon NYC and move, at least temporarily, to Maine to wait out the epidemic. I love Strout's observations about life and relationships which made for an excellent choice for our last book group discussion.

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Everyone who reads Elizabeth Strout knows there is something very special about her writing, her ability to communicate and to draw you into her story. Nothing is outrageous, nothing is over the top - just simple yet profound feelings, thoughts and situations.

“Privately staggered by grief” and realizing that “grief is a private thing- a solitary matter” - what could be more simple yet more profound?! Recognizing panic, knowing that being homesick doesn’t necessarily relate to home. The simplicity of a hot water bottle bringing comfort and deprivation - she tells us so much - just lays it all out for us to feel, absorb, relate.

I was unsure of whether I wanted or needed to read another Covid lock-down, January 6th uprising story - I understood her need to insert her opinions and incorporate them into this story - it neither added nor detracted from my reaction to this book. Thank you Random House and NetGalley for a copy.

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Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout was the fourth book in her Amgash series. Elizabeth Strout brought all the characters that we have come to love, admire and know so well together again just as Covid-19 showed up unannounced. William, Lucy’s first husband, was intent on getting Lucy out of New York City as Covid began to show its ugly and scary presence around the city. He knew that things would only get worse. William wanted to protect Lucy from the virus. He told Lucy to pack a bag and be ready to go to Maine. A friend of William’s had access to a house that William and Lucy could rent. It was on the coast of Maine. Lucy reluctantly agreed to leave New York City with William and go to Maine. She assumed that they would be back in two or three weeks. What actually transpired in Maine, to herself, to William and to her and William was so beyond anything that Lucy could have ever predicted or imagined.

Elizabeth Strout skillfully brought the struggles of isolation, social distancing and mask wearing into the day to day life Lucy was living in Maine with William. Sadly, Lucy experienced the loss of some of her friends and love ones to the virus. There was lots of hand washing, long walks both alone and with friends and frustrating trips to the supermarket only to find empty shelves or limits imposed on quantities of certain items to be purchased. Bob Burgess was brought back and became a good friend of Lucy’s. He became a trusted confidant of Lucy’s. Lucy came to really enjoy his company and looked forward to the time they spent together. Olive Kitteridge, another familiar character, was mentioned as a patient in an assisted living facility. Lucy’s and William’s daughters did not escape Covid-19 without complications and some drama. Dealing with the problems of their married daughters long distance was not easy for Lucy. She missed her daughters very much. During her time in Maine, Lucy also came to understand herself better. She discovered things about herself that she had not recognized before she got to Maine. With so much time on her hands, she was able to contemplate these things. All the free time, seclusion and the acquaintance of new friends made it easier for Lucy to make these self discoveries. Lucy’s and William’s journey through Covid-19 was familiar and yet unique to them. How would Lucy and William fair under the anxiety, fear and unknowns of the virus, the political unrest the country was experiencing and from living together in such close proximity to each other in the house they rented in Maine?

I really enjoyed Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout. It was written in the first person narrative. Lucy used her voice in a very convincing way to tell this story. I found it to be uplifting and endearing. It was also sad at certain points. I could feel the frustration the characters felt, the fear of the unknown and the anxiety they felt as well. It brought back so many feelings I experienced during this trying and scary time. It was well written and plotted. I have come to look forward to reading the books Elizabeth Strout writes. I highly recommend this book.

Thank you to Random House Publishing for allowing me to read Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Delighted to include this title in the September instalment of Novel Encounters, my regular column highlighting the month’s most anticipated fiction for the Books section of Zoomer magazine. (see column and mini-review at link)

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It's nice to follow along with the cast of characters we have grown to love through Elizabeth Strout's book Lucy by the Sea. It's hard to describe this author's writings - I call it heavy character development and light on plot, but other critics call her the best observer of human behavior who interweaves short stories and essays and they're lovely books to read. This is my 2nd Lucy Barton book, and I didn't read them in order, but I still aspire to go back and read the first two Lucy Barton books!

Lucy by the Sea is set during the Coronavirus Pandemic, where Lucy and William have fled the city to quarantine themselves from the urban setting. It did not disappoint and I adore the audiobook narrator Kimberly Farr!

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I don't think this is a good book to start with if you haven't read the earlier ones. I also feel like since the pandemic is still raging, this book felt sort of dated already because it is framed around the early days of lockdowns but seems to think that things are better in the place and time would be reading about it. Things are not better and if anything they are worse. Is the next book going to deal with this too? I feel like the book was too soon.

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Elizabeth Strout has a unique gift for sharing the intimate on the page; the private moments when we are stripped of artifice, acting authentically, speaking from our core, and laying ourselves bare to others. I knew this when she let me in the room as the main character of her linked story collection Olive Kitteridge stole her daughter-in-law’s shoe and bra, in an attempt to get the upper hand with the know-it-all who was a bit too much like Olive herself.

Like all great novels, Lucy by the Sea shows us the every day played out against the background of a larger drama.

While Olive acts out furtively, Lucy Barton, protagonist of Lucy by the Sea, talks to us openly with great warmth and frankness about her experiences navigating the pandemic. The catastrophe becomes the backdrop for Lucy’s deepening understanding of herself, attempt to understand the politics of the day, and changes in her close personal relationships wrought by the crisis.

The story begins with Lucy’s ex-husband and friend, William Gerhardt, a scientist, suggesting they decamp to a rented house on the coast of Maine to avoid the Covid virus, which is ravaging New York City. Lucy’s response is honest and heartbreaking. “I felt terribly sad, like a child, and I thought of the children’s book Heidi that I had read in my youth, and of how she had been sent somewhere and she was so sad that she walked in her sleep. For some reason this image of Heidi kept going through my mind. I would not be able to go home, and this sank into me deeper all the time.”

Lucy’s feelings of childlike helplessness, which return in other sections of the book, seem entirely real and grounded in her experience of childhood trauma. The rawness of Lucy’s voice is born out of not being seen as a child. Lucy’s difficult childhood was chronicled in earlier novels, My Name is Lucy Barton and Oh William (shortlisted for the Booker Prize). That Strout lets us in on Lucy’s fears, builds readers’ empathy and makes them cheer Lucy on as she continues to navigate the world.

Her first response to the pandemic is disbelief, which morphs into grief as acquaintances die. “It’s odd how the mind does not take anything in until it can,” observes Lucy. Her grief is magnified as she mourns her second husband, David, a cellist who’d died a year earlier.

As it was for some of us in real life, the pandemic was an impetus for Lucy’s personal exploration. Living in a remote setting in Maine that includes pockets of poverty, Lucy recalls her own childhood of loneliness and depravation, as she says to William:

“My whole childhood was a lockdown. I never saw anyone or went anywhere.”

And the truth of this hit me straight into the bowels, and William just looked at me and said, “I know, Lucy.” He said it as a reflex, without thinking about what I had said, is what I thought. But I was so sad that evening: I understood—as I have understood at different points in my life—that the childhood isolation of fear and loneliness would never leave me.

Lucy also contemplates the socioeconomic and political divides of the day. Exploring Maine by car, Lucy notices the poverty around her and thinks about her siblings living a working-class life back in Illinois and the political affiliations born of their disenfranchisement. “They had been made to feel poorly about themselves, they were looked at with disdain, and they could no longer stand it,” Strout writes. But reflecting on the January 6th insurrection, she adds, “And then I thought, No those were Nazis and racists at the Capitol. And so my understanding — my imagining of the breaking of the windows — stopped there.”

The pandemic also becomes a driving force for the evolution of Lucy’s personal relationships. Secluded with her first husband William, she learns that he has prostate cancer and was rendered impotent by the surgery. As they grow closer again, she finds they are able to connect in ways that go beyond the physical, despite his betrayal of her by having affairs during their marriage.

She also builds a friendship with Bob Burgess (a character in Strout’s novel The Burgess Boys) who accompanies her on walks, listening attentively, gives Lucy and William Maine license plates for the car so that they can avoid the hostility of neighbors who would see them as outsiders, and connects William with a doctor who can help him with prostate issues.

Her relationship with one of her daughters is changed as she watches Becka navigate her husband’s infidelity, which mirrored Lucy’s earlier experience with William. Lucy laments Becka’s lack of communication and is set straight by her daughter Chrissie:

“She doesn’t call me anymore,” I said. Chrissy hesitated before she said, “I think she doesn’t need you like she used to. Even those years married to Trey she still needed you, but, Mom, you did your job. She’s on her way.”

So we watch as Lucy does her best to understand herself and connect with others in a world changed by the global pandemic. She is adrift at times but ultimately anchored in love, connection, and the bravery required by everyday life. Like all great novels, Lucy by the Sea shows us the every day played out against the background of a larger drama. It remains the small moments that yield wisdom and reflect the complexity, the horror, and the beauty of life.

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