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Discussion Questions: My Name is Lucy Barton

February 29th, 2016

My Name is Lucy Barton_StroutA new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, including Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys, have illuminated our most tender relationships. Now, in My Name Is Lucy Barton, this extraordinary writer shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all—the one between mother and daughter.

  1. Lucy’s husband asked her mother to visit her in the hospital, and paid for her trip. Do you think that was a gesture of love on his part?
  2. What role does the gossip Lucy and her mother share play in the book?
  3. Do you think Lucy blames her mother for the more painful parts of her childhood? Could her mother have done better?
  4. WWII and the Nazis are themes that profoundly affect Lucy’s father (and hence her whole family), Lucy’s marriage to her first husband, and even her dreams. Discuss.
  5. Lucy expresses great love for her doctor. How would you describe that love?
  6. Lucy’s friend Jeremy told her she needed to be “ruthless as a writer.” Did she take his advice? How?
  7. Why did Lucy keep returning again and again to see the marble statue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art?
  8. How has the poverty of Lucy’s childhood shaped her life and her work?
  9. What does living in New York City mean for Lucy? Do you think she feels at home in New York?
  10. What did Sarah Payne mean, when she said to Lucy: “We only have one story”?

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