My Name is Lucy Barton

By Elizabeth Strout
Genre: Women's Fiction
Buy Now This book is on reading list for January 2017

Discussion Questions

  1. Consider the novel’s setting. How does the hospital environment impact the theme of the novel? What is the role of the doctors and the nurses in Lucy’s story?
  2. Lucy’s husband asked her mother to visit her in the hospital and paid for her trip. Why do you think she came, and how can you explain her sudden departure?
  3. Strout uses euphemisms throughout the novel, such as ‘the thing.’ Why does she do this? Why does the author use such lean prose to explore a complex subject?
  4. Lucy’s friend Jeremy told her she needed to be “ruthless as a writer.” What does ruthlessness actually mean to Lucy?
  5. Why did Lucy keep returning again and again to see the marble statue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art?
  6. How has the poverty of Lucy’s childhood shaped her life and her work? Where does she find her voice?
  7. What does living in New York City mean for Lucy? Do you think she feels at home in New York?
  8. What did Sarah Payne mean, when she said to Lucy: “We only have one story”?
  9. According to Sarah, what is a writer’s job? Consider her words: “..she told us to go to the page without judgement, reminded us that we never knew, and never would know, what it would be like to understand another person fully.” Strout places this statement after revealing the story about her brother (p.118-120). What does this suggest about judgement?
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