Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Without giving any spoilers away, as always, we will be discussing a fantastic novel by Elizabeth Strout called Lucy By The Sea. I devoured this book in three days and my only regret is that the two hundred and eighty-eight page read wasn’t longer. I wish it could have gone on for forever and it is, easily, one of my favorite reads of 2022. It. Was. Excellent. Before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on Lucy By The Sea as this book has a primary focus on grief including, death, miscarriages, abuse, and mental health issues. Now, let’s get to it:
The time is winter of 2020 and Lucy lives alone in her apartment in Manhattan. She is once divorced with two adult daughters and now freshly widowed after the passing of her beloved David. Lucy’s childhood was anything but picture perfect and her and her siblings grew up incredibly poor and suffered at the hands of their abusive mother. She drew inspiration from her sad beginning and became a famous author who just finished yet another book tour.
Once Lucy has settled back into her apartment, she learns she must leave. Her ex-husband, William, is a scientist and is deeply concerned by the Covid-19 pandemic. He insists on Lucy packing a bag and coming with him to a home rented in coastal Maine, all in the name of saving her life. He instructs their two daughters, Chrissy and Becka, who also live in the city to get out of town as well. At first, Lucy doesn’t understand why William is panicking but she learns soon enough.
Very quickly, the world as Lucy knew it begins to turn upside down and she no longer recognizes the streets she once called home when she sees the ghost town of New York City on the news. Her panic attacks and icy relationship with William also do nothing to help her settle into her new life in Maine. Lucy walks. Lucy sits. And Lucy worries. She fears for her daughters, each privately suffering in their own way. She fears for herself as she grows older and starts feeling like she is losing her mind. And, she fears for the state of the world as the pandemic continues to spiral.
Despite the impending sense of doom that blankets Lucy, everything isn’t all bad in Maine. Through kindly Bob who William rented the home from, they both begin to make friends. Lucy takes solace in her walks and chats with her new companions. And, through the hardships of her daughters, she begins to grow closer to William after being apart for so long. She has finally grown to accept this “new normal” of a life and gains a deeper understanding of her own issues both past and present. After a lifetime of sorrow, is there a happy ending waiting for Lucy? Read Lucy By The Sea to find out!
I absolutely LOVED Lucy By The Sea and it was one of the most amazing, well written books that I have read in a long time. It was, truly, a step by step walk through of the Covid-19 pandemic that touched on several key focuses including the presidency, the murder of George Floyd, the protests, and the insurrection. Reading Lucy describe these events as they unfolded felt like going back in time and it was crazy to see so many of the conversations Johnny and I had at every turn of the page.
Combining this insane time with each character working through their own grief perfectly captured the overwhelming sorrow that I felt throughout the pandemic. Every day was a day of going through the motions while providing little more than to be alone with your own thoughts. It is easy to understand why mental health issues became exasperated because everything just seemed so much more difficult to bear. You could feel this rain cloud over each person in Lucy By The Sea and it beautifully put into words all of the despair I felt myself.
Although Lucy was about forty years my senior, I related to her so much. Not only did she have her own struggles with anxiety and depression, like me, but she also failed to see herself the way other people do. This is something that I have overcome but the feelings of not being good enough crop up from time to time. Reading how Lucy began to see herself in a new light despite all of the current hardships gave the glimmer of hope that everyone was waiting for during the pandemic. The transformation was stunning and the book ended with me weeping tears of joy for this unlikely heroine who I grew to love so much.
I am going to award Lucy By The Sea with the coveted ten out of ten star rating. If the material in this book isn’t too upsetting, then I cannot recommend or sing its praises enough. It is one of the most powerful, inspiring books that I have ever read and I think that you will love it too!
What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah