24 Nov / Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout [in Booklist]
Kimberly Farr is clearly Elizabeth Strout’s chosen voice, now reading the fourth of the Amgash series featuring Lucy Barton. It’s March 2020. Lucy’s first husband William convinces her to leave New York City for Maine. “I did not know that one of my friends and a family member would die of this virus,” she reveals in the first chapter. “I did not know that my entire life would become something new.”
In Farr’s warm, gentle narration, Lucy reluctantly adjusts to isolated lockdown with William – “I only wanted to save your life,” he repeats – and, as always, observes life around her with empathy. She still mourns her beloved dead husband David. She encourages William’s relationship with a sister he’s only just discovered in his 70s. She converses more often with “the nice mother [she] had made up,” sometimes when she feels most helpless as her faraway daughters struggle with relationships. Lucy also begins to understand the intense, growing anger that further divides the haves and have-nots. What she learns by novel’s end is this: “Lucy, you trust yourself.”
To listen is to settle in with familiar old friends; Strout even provides glimpses of other Maine favorites Bob Burgess and, of course, Olive Kitteridge. Throughout, Farr’s agile sensitivity guarantees nods, guffaws, tears … and joy.