Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout: A review
The time frame of this novel encompasses the early part of the Covid pandemic. In the beginning, Lucy is living in New York and like many is pretty much blissfully unaware of what is about to hit. Her ex-husband and current friend, William, is a bit more clued into what's coming. He, after all, has a background in science and he can see trouble is coming. He persuades Lucy to go with him to a small town in Maine where there are few people and where he thinks they may be safe.
Lucy, meantime, is beset not only with her own personal concerns but with those of her two adult daughters as well. During her lockdown with William, she has plenty of time to worry about her daughters and to reflect on her pre-pandemic life, her regrets, and her grief about past mistakes.
One of the things she reflects on is the family that she came from, her mother and father, and her siblings. Her ardent desire for her life was that she should not be the kind of mother that her mother was. It seems that she has fulfilled that desire and that she has been able to forge a more positive relationship with her own daughters.
In this novel, we do learn quite a bit about Lucy's daughters and their lives. We learn about their personal as well as professional lives and about their relationships with their parents which were not without their challenges.
It is easy for me to identify with Lucy, perhaps in part because I also have two daughters, but also, like Lucy, I tend to dwell on the mistakes I've made rather than positive accomplishments. Maybe that is just a human tendency that Lucy and I share with others. The pandemic certainly increased our sense of isolation and disconnect from society in general, and Strout is so good at conveying that in her prose and through this wonderful character that she has created. It is easy for readers (at least this reader) to lose themselves in this prose and to forget for a time that Lucy is a fictional character. She seems more like a living, breathing friend, one with whom you can share your troubles or share a laugh. One who will understand and not judge you. What a wonderful gift it is to be able to write such a character.