If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be “meh“. What a shame, I really wanted to love this book because I picked it up as a birthday present for myself. At the bookstore, I didn’t even bother to look for its reviews online, so taken in was I by its hardcover’s beauty. I basically judged it by its cover.
I felt the book lacked depth in its emotional exploration, as it remained on the superficial thoughts of Lucy, the protagonist.
The author, also, omitted describing some details that were assumed to be already known.
Additionally, Lucy kept saying repeatedly: “…is what I mean” or “I understood”, which created a sense of distance between her and me, making it feel like she was just telling me a story rather than letting me into her mind. I felt like I was listening to a woman talking about herself and her worries. I was bored.
From the start of the book, you are led to believe that something terrible has happened and you wait to see what it is about. But nothing extraordinary actually takes place. Well, I’m wrong. Something extraordinary happens, which is the Covid pandemic and all its horrible events. But we already know these.
Basically, the book is just a list of events happening one after another, lacking a proper story.
Another thing that disappointed me was that Lucy had “visions” of events that actually happen, which I found unrealistic and eye-rolling.
This is one of Lucy’s visions, to give you an idea.
It had actually come to me the moment I saw Melvin step out of the car, it was as though he had – very briefly – an aura around him that was dark, and I have not had visions for a while, but that aura thing had com I saw him, and it came again as we drove along, but now it was like a dark bird that flew across the windshield, so fast it was almost gone. “Melvin’s got the virus”, I said.
Seriously? I can believe that she can have a vision. It’s just hard to believe that all of her visions came true.
In my personal and therefore subjective opinion, I think this is a 2.5 stars book. I rounded it up because the prose was not bad at all, and it wasn’t a terrible book overall. However, the lack of depth and the lack of a proper story, together with the unrealistic “visions” make me hesitate to recommend it.
Title: Lucy by the Sea
Author: Elizabeth Strout
Year First Published: 2022
Content Warnings: Death, Miscarriage
From Pulitzer Prize-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Strout, comes Lucy by the Sea, a novel featuring Lucy Barton, the indomitable heroine of My Name is Lucy Barton and Oh William!
Lucy is uprooted from her life in New York City and reluctantly goes into lockdown with her ex-husband William in a house on the coast of Maine.
Strout’s new novel is a miraculous work of fiction. A brilliantly sharp evocation of the period we have just lived through, it is a novel that both resonates deeply and consoles us too.