Lucy by the Sea | Elizabeth Strout #USAfiction

Opening Lines:

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.

Favourite Quote:

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.

Favourite Character:

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.

Strout Bibliofile:

Plague/Pandemic Reads:

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.

21 thoughts on “Lucy by the Sea | Elizabeth Strout #USAfiction

        1. I do that too. When I was getting ready my upcoming Voss readalong, I realised I had two copies of the book somehow – even the same edition!! I have no idea how it happened 🤷🏼‍♀️

          Hope you track down the first Lucy book so you can start from the beginning.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Those observations about clothes show that many people don’t ‘dress up’ for themselves, they only do it if there’s someone to see.
    Me, I wore the same clothes in the pandemic as I always do. Eight years after I retired, I’m still wearing the collection of Fella Hamilton (Australian made) black pants and tops that I bought to wear to work each day. Enough for fresh each day and launder at the weekend. I am too lazy to fuss about clothes.
    Though I did buy a couple of colourful scarves from some woman in Qld who couldn’t sell hers at the market during lockdown.

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    1. For someone who strongly dislikes shopping for clothes as much as I do, I have way too manyI I have going out clothes, work clothes, gardening/cleaning clothes, exercise outfits…but I do love a good scarf 🙂

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      1. When I was a Young Thing, I came across some research that said that women made their financial disadvantage worse by spending so much money on clothes. It said that women invested less in super because they spent more than twice as much as men did on clothes, $5000 p.a. compared to $2000 p.a. That shocked me, because — you know — women live longer than men, they need more super, not less. (And that average didn’t include all the costs of grooming that young women do today with fake nails and pouty lips etc.)
        Then I read something about choosing a colour palette and sticking to it, so that everything you have goes with everything else. I chose black, white and blue — basics, blazer, knits, bag, shoes, gloves, the lot and I bought the best quality I could afford and only bought replacements when I had to. I added accent colours with scarves and beads, alternating pink, red and emerald green so that I could make things look a bit different, and I was told more than once that I must have had a lot of clothes. But I didn’t. It just looked as if I did.

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        1. How on earth anyone could spend $5000 pa on clothing I do not know, let alone $2000, although, I guess if you factor in underwear and bras I might get to $2000.

          I remember reading something about picking a colour palette in my younger days too, but I could never work out which colours would be best! I’m also allergic to wool, so I have to wait for the fashion cycle to work its way back to cotton knits and jumpers every 4-5 years.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I have read Lucy Barton, and definitely OK. I might give this one to Milly for Xmas, and read it myself in Jan. (I have so few clothes, you couldn’t tell if I was in lockdown or not).

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  3. Thank you for the review. I loved her book, I am Lucy Barton and wanted to read more by her. This sounds like a nice read.

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