Like many others, I did not see it coming.
But William is a scientist, and he saw it coming; he saw it sooner than I did, is what I mean.
Like many others, I did not see another Lucy book coming! But, in the end, I was glad.
Lucy by the Sea brings the story of Lucy and William full circle, although I do note, that the ending is left open enough to allow for another story if Strout should suddenly feel the urge.
This is Strout’s pandemic story. Due to Lucy’s weakened lungs, William, whose scientific background prepares him for what might be about to happen, convinces Lucy to get out of New York with him, to retire to a small coastal town in Maine, just before the lockdowns begin.
It just so happens that this is the very same small coastal town that Olive Kitteridge lives in, and Bob Burgess, and a host of other familiar families to those who have read all of Strout’s previous novels. I wonder what it is about Maine that inspires authors to populate whole towns with their characters across novels. Stephen King does this regularly too.
Strout’s writing is as perspicacious as usual.
She made me laugh out loud with her observations on clothing changes. It was something I observed too, although since I was one of those wearing the new lockdown clothing, it was more of a self-deprecating chuckle!
They wore clothes I would not have worn; many women wore leggings – even in this cold! – going right up to their waist, not being covered by any of the sweatshirts they had on. No one – that I could see – wore any makeup at all.
Prior to Covid I used to have my yoga clothes – various styles of exercise pants, usually worn with a long fitted T-shirt and fleecy jacket, that rarely went outside the house or yoga studio. However, as Covid-19 was making it’s way around the world, Mr Books and I were holidaying in South Australia. When border closures were suddenly announced for two days time, we did a mad dash across country to get back to NSW before we were locked out. As we drove through western NSW the weather suddenly cooled down dramatically. A lunch time stop in Deniliquin saw me browsing the sportswear section of the local clothing store and picking up a couple of pairs of long yoga leggings. I lived in them during the several lockdown periods that ensued over the next two years. Lucy would be horrified! I was comfortable.
I learned this about the sound of the sea: There were two levels to it, there was a deep ongoing sound that was quietly massive, and there was also the sound of the water hitting the rocks….The light was astonishing, it would come every morning and it would be a pale white and then almost smash into a yellow as the day went by.
Bob Burgess. I loved the book about him too. He is such a gentle, caring, thoughtful man. It’s so nice to see that he has been able to move on from the tragedy that occurred in his childhood.
Favourite or Forget:
This is my favourite of the four Lucy stories.
- Oh! William
- Anything is Possible
- My Name is Lucy Barton (reread)
- Olive, Again
- My Name is Lucy Barton (first read)
- Olive Kitteridge
- The Burgess Boys
- Oryx and Crake | Margaret Atwood (fictional bio-engineered flu virus) pre-blog
- Year of Wonders | Geraldine Brooks (Great Plague of London) pre-blog
- The Stand | Stephen King (fictional bio-engineered flu virus) pre-blog
- Moloka’i | Alan Brennert (leprosy) pre-blog
- All Fall Down | Sally Nicholls (the black death) YA
- The Way We Fall | Megan Crewe (fictional flu virus) YA
- The Plague | Albert Camus (fictional plague)
- How We Live Now | Bill Hayes (non-fiction Covid-19)
- Hamnet | Maggie O’Farrell (bubonic plague)
- The Pull of the Stars | Emma Donoghue (Spanish Flu)
- A Journal of the Plague Year | Daniel Defoe (Great Plague of London)
- Intimations | Zadie Smith (non-fiction Covid-19)
- Station Eleven | Emily St John Mandel (fictional flu)
- Pale Rider | Laura Spinney (non-fiction Spanish Flu)
- A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century | Barbara Tuchman (non-fiction The Black Death)
- The Coast | Eleanor Limprecht (leprosy)
Title: Lucy by the Sea Author: Elizabeth Strout ISBN: 9780241606995 Imprint: Viking Published: 5 October 2022 Format: Hardback Pages: 304 Dates Read: 16 October 2022 - 18 October 2022
- This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are this land’s first storytellers.