Cover Image: Lucy by the Sea

Lucy by the Sea

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Lucy By the Sea. The latest in the Lucy Barton series, Elizabeth Strout once again knocks it out of the park as her protagonist endures life during the covid lockdown.

Have recently lost husband number two, ex-husband William whisks Lucy away from New York to the Maine coast, since he foresees that a move is needed. Lucy, with her history of asthma, is vulnerable. Strout depicts an authentic description of how difficult and isolating it was during the pandemic. We see more of the crotchety interactions with ex-husband William, but ultimately they seem to comfort one another.

Family dynamics take center stage again in this one and Stout with her keen sense of telling a tale reminds us of what mattered most during the pandemic. We get to know more about Lucy’s daughters, their families, and their lives. Only one of their daughters, Chrissy, and her family take William’s advice to leave New York. Sadly, both of Lucy’s daughters are experiencing issues in their relationships. Its tough times.

Four Stars. A great read. Thank you NetGalley for providing me an advance copy for an unbiased and candid review. #LucybytheSea #ElizabethStrout #Netgalley

Was this review helpful?

If you’ve enjoyed other novels by Elizabeth Strout, than this new one “Lucy By The Sea” will be no different. I read both an ARC and an audiobook version simultaneously. The audio narrator is Kimberly Farr who has done other works by Elizabeth Strout and is always a joy to listen to. Simply put, I can’t imagine any other voice than Farr’s when I read Strout’s stories.

This latest novel is the happenings of Lucy Barton & her Ex-husband William as they decide to escape New York during the Covid pandemic and how it effects them & their grown children. A wonderful introspective examination of their loves, losses, mistakes & triumphs. Highly recommend this book & all of Elizabeth Strout’s novels. She has the ability to bring authentic, vulnerable characters to life on the page. People you won’t mind meeting up with again when you “travel” into their communities via the page.

I read a print version as well as an audio version of this book. I adore Kimberly Farr’s narration for the vulnerable yet sometimes prickly Lucy Barton. Farr’s narration is spot-on and helps paint the picture in your imagination of who you believe Lucy is.

Was this review helpful?

Every thought that went through my head during the pandemic 😷 was included in this book. I really love how an author decided to write a book that is fiction by based on real life events. If anybody ever wants to know what was it like during the pandemic I would say read Lucy By the Sea. From empty shelves to people hiding out. People socializing and people being extra cautious.

Thank you Netgalley and Random house for access to this book in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book.
I really enjoy Elizabeth Strout so I was excited to see a new title to add to the Lucy collection. I will say, I wasn't thrilled to read about the pandemic. Literature is where I go to escape (and the pandemic lasted far too long); I'd just prefer not to 're-live' it. Pandemic books with political overtones are not for me.

Was this review helpful?

If you've seen any of my Elizabeth Strout reviews, or my immediate 4-star post when I finished this book, you probably know already what I am going to say here. Honestly, there is not a Strout book I've read (and I think I've read them all), that I didn't love. So no, I am not at all objective. But I am also a reader of books that Elizabeth Strout did not write, and I can tell you, I am not always as lucky. I could read 10 more books about Lucy Barton; I find her uncomplicated and utterly fascinating at once. Her relationship with William is the same—easy or difficult depending on the hour or the day. This is not the first post-pandemic pandemic book I've read, but something about the way Strout wrote this made me conscious of the idea that what I was reading was like watching a train wreck, and then, shockingly, realizing it was something real that we all just lived. It is fantasy and hard-biting reality at once. So maybe what I'm saying is that I love Strout for all her contradictions. And also, for giving us the wonderful Lucy Barton.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you, Thank you Netgalley for this ARC of Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout. This book is a continuation of Lucy Barton's story (a character in a few of Strout's other novels). Lucy and ex-husband, sometimes friend, William leave Manhattan together and head to Maine for a several month stay. Strout is amazing at capturing the details of everyday life and weaving them together so perfectly. Just go read this and every other book by Elizabeth Strout.

Was this review helpful?

This was an incredible book! I think the second-chance-romance trope is one that I usually find repetitive, but this one felt fresh and romantic. I think this book feels more like a realistic version of an on again, off again relationship, because it felt more nuanced to read about!

Was this review helpful?

I just couldn’t with this one. Maybe it’s too soon for me to read an account of the early days of the pandemic? The writing was too slow and the content hit too close to home.

Was this review helpful?

A terrible pandemic has hit New York and William wants to get his family out of the city. His ex wife, Lucy, is very willing to go to a friends house in Maine. One of their adult daughters and her husband are going to Connecticut. Their other daughter is going to take her chances in the city. Who is going to survive and also thrive?
Elizabeth Strout is a great storyteller and this story about the pandemic is real and heartwarming.

Was this review helpful?

I loved "Lucy by the Sea" by Elizabeth Strout. Highly enjoyed the simplicity of everyday living (during Covid) mixed with the complexity of the characters and relationships. Was a smooth, flowing, interesting and enjoyable read. Thank you NetGalley, the author and publisher for the review copy. All opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

This book follows the main character's Lucy at the start of the pandemic. She is recently widowed from her second husband. She is on speaking terms with her ex husband who is the father of her two daughters. Her ex husband works in the immunology field and urges their daughters and Lucy to get out of New York City for their own safety. Lucy ends up going to Maine with her ex husband for what she thought would be a short stay. I really enjoyed learning more about Lucy's childhood, marriages, and her relationship with her daughters. It has been almost 3 years since March 2020 and I often forget what the first few months felt like. It was such a peculiar and uncertain time in everyone's lives that I never truly made sense of it. This book forced me to think about my own experience with it and what I will one day tell my kids about it. Elizabeth Strout did a magnificant job describing the feelings that the pandemic brought people ranging from fear, anxiety, loneliness, and grief. She wrote about masked, long-awaited reunions with loved ones that I also remember having. New York City was forever changed by the pandemic and so are we. There may be people who avoid this book because the pandemic is too fresh in their minds and they are not ready for this perspective. To me, this book is a time capsule.

Was this review helpful?

3. stars*.

Somehow I have made it this long without ever reading anything by Elizabeth Strout. I've heard ALL of the buzz. I've had most of her catalog on my TBR but was not entirely sure what the books were about so I didn't opt-in. When I saw one of her books available on NetGalley I leaped at the chance to read it.

Lucy by the Sea reads almost like a journal or memoir. It is the story of Lucy Barton, a late-middle-aged American woman dealing with the recent death of her second husband at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lucy's ex-husband, William, convinces her to go with him to Maine to escape the ravages and they literally weather it together.

I feel like coming into this series this late was a mistake. I do plan to go back to the beginning of this series, seeing as Olive Kitteredge and William make appearances in this book and I KNOW there are books by those names.

I did enjoy the emotional, evocative writing. I just feel like I really needed context.

*with thanks to NetGalley for the digital ARC in exchange for this honest review

Was this review helpful?

Thank you NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. I have never read a book by Elizabeth Strout. This was my first Lucy Barton book. This book was full of regular mundane things like going on walks, cleaning out the drain in the shower, remembering past memories. Oh yeah, and it takes place during the pandemic. So not a lot happens. I thought I'd find it boring, but the writing was just so intriguing that I actually enjoyed it.

Was this review helpful?

Elizabeth Strout hits it out of the park ... again! This slender volume continues the story of Lucy Barton in a pitch-perfect tour of the pandemic. In this novel, the fourth in the Amgash series, we pick up where Lucy left off in Oh William!, exploring her musings and observations about life, her past, and the startling present. She flees New York at the urging of her ex-husband William, going with him to a house by the sea in Maine. There, we experience the pandemic with Lucy as she reacts with surprise, loneliness, irritation, and joy at small things--in short, the full range of emotions most of us went through as the isolation of the pandemic dragged on. Strout skillfully manages to portray this resolute character as a real person, full of contradictions, humor, courage, and insight. I found myself rapt from beginning to end. If you haven't yet met Lucy, I urge you to dive into these books!

Was this review helpful?

I really loved this installation in the series--in fact,, I believe this was my favorite. A thought provoking moving exploration of the pandemic and the impact it had on the big pictures of our lives but also the small and big ways in which it influenced the day to day of our lives. This book really brought me back to the experiences and the emotions of 2020--the fears, boredom, worries, and compassion. As always, the character composition from Strout is exceptional.

Was this review helpful?

While literature can be an escape from current events, it can also be a vehicle to help process the world around us. To that end, Elizabeth Strout uses the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic to revisit the story of Lucy Barton and her ex-husband William in Lucy by the Sea. At William's urging, they leave New York City to shelter in Maine.

Lucy is the perfect character for Strout to place in such a situation; her naïveté, her second-guessing, her genuine feelings of confusion and frustration can mirror our own experiences of the transformative time. The fear, the unknowing, the concern, the drudgery, the safety, the annoyances and impatiences are revisited through fiction and it doesn't feel like a forced, unnatural setting for Lucy to find herself in. We can all relate when Lucy says, "This will end, I kept thinking. This will have to end. And every night it did not end, or indicate in any way that it would ever end."

Though the pandemic certainly directs some of the actions in the book, and George Floyd's death and the aftermath is also pulled in, Lucy is also caught up in finding ways to safely connect with neighbors, to support her daughters, to consider what is genuine, when it is worth taking risks.

While I first avoided this title, not sure if I was interested in reading already about the pandemic in fiction, I'm grateful I reconsidered. This was a beautiful framing, and there was something cathartic in seeing Lucy experience the muddled head, her inability to read, her grief and anxiety, to recognize those realities were true for me, too, once, but be grateful I'm no longer caught in that moment. It wasn't even three years ago, and I still have to pause when I realize how my daughters didn't set foot in a school building for an entire year. How did we do it?! I'm grateful for having been together and grateful to be on this side of an uncertain time. Lucy By the Sea is a notable, dare I even say welcome, account of an unsettling experience, to allow us to remember and mark the moment and take stock on what we lost, what we gained, what we learned.

(I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.)

Was this review helpful?

Elizabeth Strout captures the struggles of connectedness felt during the pandemic lockdown in this quirky, yet empathetic novel. Lucy Barton moves to the Maine coast with her ex-husband, William, to protect her family from the rapidly spreading virus in New York City. William and Lucy's adult daughters are managing their own struggles with the adjustments made to work from home and problems in their marriages. Lucy is an odd, but good character, She is quick to judge--and count the number of glasses of wine people drink while dining outside and following social distancing guidelines. Add Lucy By The Sea to your pandemic reading list. The novel is also recommended for book discussion groups who like to talk about other people's marriages.

Was this review helpful?

This novel left me conflicted. In this fourth book following the life of Lucy Barton, Lucy is hustled out of her apartment in New York by her ex-husband and taken to a remote house on the coast of Maine to wait out the pandemic with him. Elizabeth Strout has been writing about Lucy's life for awhile and here we see what kind of old woman she is. It's interesting to see how people change (or fail to change) over time and I'm on board for this project of Strout's. There's even a look at Olive Kitteridge in this novel, now living in a retirement home. Looking at how Lucy is thinking more than ever about her childhood and about her siblings that she left behind as she fought to be free of background of deprivation certainly fits with the elderly people I know. And Lucy's situation is exacerbated by the isolation of the pandemic and by being isolated with William, her strong-willed and not hugely communicative ex-husband. Which is to say, Lucy's tendencies toward worry have solidified into a querulous focus on all the things that upset her, past and present.

Which brings me to my conflict with this novel; I appreciate the project Strout is finishing up here, with this final book about Lucy, and I love the earlier novels in this sequence (Anything is Possible is brilliant), but Lucy is just not that fun a character to spend time with. By pairing this fussy woman who overthinks some things while entirely overlooking other more obvious things, with a focus on events we are arguably still living through ourselves, this novel is often more frustrating that illuminating. I'm on board for how Lucy, no matter how secure and loved she is, can't help but focus on the same uncertainties that blighted her childhood. But this older Lucy, inured to the real lives of those less privileged than herself, just doesn't see how the solutions her family finds to the problems posed by the pandemic, are solutions only open to those with ample resources, from extra homes waiting for when they are needed, to the ability to simply pay others to take the risks deemed too dangerous for themselves. It's an odd blind spot in a character consumed by assessing how she is perceived by others.

I'm curious how this book will be seen in years removed from the current moment. It also leaves me with the same question I've been thinking about since 9/11; when are we ready to read fictitious accounts about events we ourselves lived through? And which accounts do we want to read? I found myself unsympathetic to characters whose difficulties during the pandemic were the most minimal, sheltered as they were by wealth and a willingness to use that wealth to escape, but I think that I would have enjoyed a novel told from the point of view of someone who lacked the ability to distance themselves. Or maybe I just need more distance from events to be able to engage with them in novels.

I'm looking forward to Strout's next project, whatever form that takes.

Was this review helpful?

Dear Fellow Reader,

An hour ago, I was in the basement waiting for the National Weather Service to cancel the tornado warning that it issued for my area. And now I sit here, and the sun is shining. I can see a bit of blue sky between the white clouds. You just never know what the day will bring.

I read a book by Elizabeth Strout for a book club a couple of years ago. It was My Name is Lucy Barton and I don’t remember much about it but it was dark. I know there were scenes between a mother and daughter in a hospital that truly showed a terrible relationship.

So, now I have read Lucy by the Sea. I think that Elizabeth Strout’s writing style is very different. It is brief and to the point. The chapters contain many sections with each section running either from a couple of sentences to a few paragraphs. The breaks allow for a change in thought or movement of the plot. While at first, I wasn’t too wild about it, I think it is very effective. The breaks allow Lucy to allude that something is going to happen in the future and then she goes back to the present or the past. It is not confusing at all as to where you are in the story even with the breaks.

Lucy is living in New York as she always has. She is still in mourning for her husband, Dwight, who died about a year ago. She loved him with all her heart. She has an ex-husband that she is friendly with and since Dwight's death, she will occasionally travel with him. Their relationship is platonic but they have a long history. Her ex-husband is a parasitologist. He sees that there is going to be a huge change coming and he tells Lucy and his daughters that they need to leave the city. One daughter and her husband take his advice and move into the husband’s parent’s home while the parents are wintering in Florida. William tells Lucy to get ready that he is going to pick her up and they are leaving the city. Lucy doesn’t really understand what William is talking about but he is so insistent that she packs a bag and leaves with him for Maine.

And then the pandemic hits and some of their friends die.

The story is about that time. They are in Maine and they are not welcomed in Maine. They live in relative isolation out on a cliff and spend time taking separate walks around the area. It is the story of what Lucy expects to be a few weeks in Maine then turns into a much longer time. We learn more about the relationship between Lucy and William (and what went wrong) and how their relationship with their daughters. Lucy’s relationship with her dead mother also plays a big part in the story.

The reader learns the story of Lucy with all its warts and beauty.

If you are ready to read about the pandemic and its effects, then this is an interesting read. Is it too soon after the pandemic? Depends on the person, I guess. I truly enjoyed the writing style and the very human characters. I think you should read it.

Thanks for reading!

Was this review helpful?

As always, Strout has written a beautiful novel full of love and empathy. Set as the pandemic takes hold, Lucy Barton’s former husband, whisks her out of NY to a small town in Maine. He recognizes what is about to happen. The novel portrays loneliness and isolation like no other novel I’ve read on the topic.

Was this review helpful?