Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout
“What is it like to be you? I need to say: This is the question that has made me a writer; always that deep desire to know what it feels like to be a different person.”Elizabeth Strout
When I used to work in a bookshop, Elizabeth Strout was an author that many of my University friends came for. They’d get every book Strout published, telling me how much they adored her writing. I remember shelving those same books. The covers didn’t seem particularly attractive. When I read the blurbs I wasn’t especially inspired either. Once we got a review copy of Olive, Again and instead of reading it I gave it to one of these friends, who was very, very happy.
Fast forward to March 2023 – I saw Lucy by the Sea in the library. I picked the book just to try and see but very much doubted it was going to be my thing. Where to start? Strout is one of those authors that manage to imbue a certain hypnotic quality to their writing that traps you, no matter how interested you really are in the characters or the plot. She’s similar to Haruki Murakami and Sally Rooney in that regard. Especially to Sally Rooney, even though she writes about a demographic that’s in their sixties and seventies, rather than late twenties and thirties (I suspect Rooney’s characters may grow with her as she keeps writing them, though?)