74. ‘My Name is Lucy Barton’ by Elizabeth Strout.

I think this may well be the best book I have read thus far this summer. Those who know me well will know that I rarely cry; tears do not come easily to me in real life, and I sometimes wonder whether the ‘stiff upper lip’ I was brought up with to cope with real life drama finds it’s antithesis in books and movies… I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a good cathartic sob watching ‘Titanic’? But – I shed tears reading this.

Written in the first person, this is a moving and eloquent book, discussing relationships, love, abuse and heartbreak with tact, and minute observation. Confined to hospital, separated from her young daughters, the narrator, Lucy Barton, wakes to find her estranged mother by her bedside who then stays for five days, during which time she asks the questions we all want to ask, and receives the honest answers we all seek, but may not want, to hear.

The story is written from the perspective of some years later, but centres around those five days. It is a scary time for the narrator – her illness is undiagnosed, her husband does not like hospitals and rarely visits, and she is heavily dependent on the kindness of the medical staff – and then, to her surprise, her mother appears. Communication has always been an issue between them – her mother has never actually used the words ‘I love you’, and yet, during those days, they talk about the past, and the author gains answers and insight into issues that have stayed with her since childhood.

Beautifully written, moving between the present and the past with skill, and, as I said earlier, a very moving book. It was published in 2016, and Mum read it in May 2017 – and now, having read and thoroughly enjoyed it, I’m ready to pass it on. So, if you would like Mum’s copy, please get in touch either here or through the Facebook or Instagram pages and I will send it to you with much love from Mum and I. I really do recommend this one – and I’ll add an Amazon link below for you to purchase if this copy has been claimed already by the time you read this – full disclosure, it is helpful to me if you purchase through my link!