At the end of Lucy by the Sea, Elizabeth Strout’s latest novel, Lucy of the same name comments: “We’re all in captivity, all the time. We just don’t know, that’s all.”
he pre-wrote 284 pages is an accurate, albeit fictitious, account of one of those pandemics that some people will not be able to bear to read this book and reminisce about those 12 months. But there are so many universal truths contained in its pages – such as the quote above – that it would be a shame to omit it.
Strout’s massive following has multiplied this year with her shortlisting for the Booker Prize (winner will be announced October 17) for Oh, William! sequel to her previous novel My name is Lucy Barton. Lucy by the sea continue with the same characters.
However, since Strout cleverly intertwines the story with the previous plots, there is no need to read My name is Lucy Barton, in which our narrator reflects on her needy childhood, the cloak of shame is poverty, the abuse she and her siblings suffered at the hands of their mother and how she tries to get ahead by going to school.
Oh William! took place a few years later. Lucy and her first husband, William Gerhardt, a parasitologist, divorced because of his many affairs; he remarried twice and Lucy once, then when her very loving husband David died, and William’s wife Estelle happened to leave him, William asked Lucy to help him with an examination. unearth his roots and it shows that his background is not the complicated privilege he was raised to believe in.
In Lucy by the seawhen When the pandemic hit and scientist William saw how devastating it could be to his family, he immediately arranged for them all to leave New York. He rented a beach house in Maine in New England from an old lawyer friend and he and Lucy took refuge there.
Many of the details in the story will be familiar; how Lucy doesn’t take her laptop because she thinks her time away from home will be short, and how she thinks William is being the alarmist, how to watch the news – seeing loads of people on the computer Breathe and listen to gruesome death statistics – became the event of the day.
Strout documents the laundry process after a trip to the supermarket, and new phrases have become our everyday language. Lucy’s gentle, reclusive brother tells her “I’ve been social distancing for 66”.
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Then there was suspicion among the Maine locals of New Yorkers: William removed the car’s New York number plate to reduce hostility. And fear, the endless fear of other people and the virus.
Strout’s insight takes the story to the next level
She also intertwines major American events, such as the killing of George Floyd, the hurricane on Capitol Hill, and the Biden/Trump election. Class, poverty and shame – old themes of Strout – are explored in the context of a pandemic.
Lucy’s family and friends did not escape the virus unscathed; some get sick, some take stupid risks, and of course there are people who deny the virus, and there are a lot of poignant moments throughout the book but the characters adapt and life goes on.
In terms of it, Lucy by the sea can be read as a gripping story of that bad first year, with many family dilemmas – miscarriages, romances, family feuds and problems – exposed. It’s also an interesting reflection on isolation and loneliness.
However, Strout’s extraordinary insight, insight, and understanding of human nature takes the story to the next level, uncovering our weaknesses, our deepest needs. us and what humans are.
‘Lucy by the Sea’ by Elizabeth Strout, Penquin Viking, €15.99
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/book-reviews/elizabeth-strouts-triumphant-lucy-by-the-sea-relives-covid-pandemic-at-a-safe-distance-42030046.html Lucy by the sea of Elizabeth Strout’s victory saves the Covid pandemic at a safe distance