I’m afraid to look…

I have, over the years, waxed ecstatic over books by Elizabeth Strout. Chiefly My Name is Lucy Barton, Olive Kitteridge, and Olive, Again. I love these three books and I have read and re-read them.

Here is a list of books by Elizabeth Strout:

  • Amy and Isabelle (1998)
  • Abide with Me (2006)
  • Olive Kitteridge (2008)
  • The Burgess Boys (2013)
  • My Name Is Lucy Barton (2016)
  • Anything is Possible (2017)
  • Olive, Again (2019)
  • Oh William! (2021)
  • Lucy by the Sea (2022)

I have read all of them. I have liked only the three I mentioned in the first paragraph. The last two were particularly disappointing. Very disappointing. She seems to have acquired a stylistic tic in Oh, William and carried over into Lucy By the Sea that is so annoying and off-putting I wanted to smack someone.

Characters in earlier books show up in later books – the stories are linked (except for the Olive books).  Bob Burgess from The Burgess Boys is all over Lucy By the Sea and quite frankly The Burgess Boys was a total snore and bore. But even Olive is name checked because – wait for it – Lucy Barton is now in Maine.

I don’t care that all her books are linked – and you don’t really have to read them all in order to make sense of them except – the latest two – Oh William and Lucy By The Sea.

Here’s my dilemma – this new style tic – is it really new or did she have it in her other books? It is so annoying to me that I am afraid to go back to the books I loved and find out. Because if this “tic” is not new but was used in her other books then it will totally ruin what I have loved.

Being me I just stopped typing and pulled My Name is Lucy Barton off the bookshelf and leafed through it quickly. I found no evidence of this new style tic but I can see where it was waiting in the wings (so to speak) to make an appearance in these last two books. I would go check Olive, Again since it is more recent than Lucy Barton, but it would break my heart if I found it there.

I’m sure you know that I stopped typing (again) and got Olive, Again off the shelf and started leafing through it. This book is still freakin’ brilliant and I quickly fell under its spell again.

And no style tic was found.

While reading Lucy By the Sea I developed a dislike for Lucy Barton. A dislike that started in Oh William. Turns out I don’t like the person Lucy Barton became, and maybe if I go back to the first Lucy Barton book I will see the seeds of this person who I now dislike.  Isn’t that funny.

In the latest book Strout makes mention that Olive is in an old age home, perhaps suffering from dementia, I don’t remember the detail. Which means Strout can’t write another book about Olive and ruin her for me.

I think I can safely dump all the Elizabeth Strout books I have on my shelf (which is all of them) and just keep the Olive books.

I no longer like Lucy Barton, as a person, or Elizabeth Strout as a writer.

So there –


7 thoughts on “I’m afraid to look…

  1. Makes you wonder if someone told her along the way that her writing was lacking in some way and that is why she started with the new style.
    Other than my obsession with Stephen King for a while I have never really followed a certain author. I chose books by description rather than by who wrote them

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    1. I do have to say that yes, I follow authors. Quite a few actually. Some are fluff – like the Stephanie Plum series that went downhill after about 10 books – I think Evanovich is up to like #30 in that series – she has a bunch of others which I don’t read but my husband does. Also I love J.D. Robb and the Eve Dallas “…in Death” series. I do not know how this woman does it – has multiple series under different names – her romance novels are written under the name Nora Roberts . I also have favorites in the “Literary” fiction category and read whatever they put out – like Toni Morrison (RIP) or Anita Brookner (also recently deceased).


  2. Oh and I forgot to mention that I can no longer read a Stephen Kind book. I got to one that he was just a little too off the wall for me and from then on I no longer had an interest in his books

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    1. I’ve never been a Stephen King fan – aside from ‘Carrie” I’ve never finished any of his books – for one thing they are too damn long. And as much as I like paranormal-supernatural stories I never could get interested in his work.


    1. Berkeley Breathed is bringing “Bloom County” to tv with an animated series currently in development. I am not a fan of animation but this one I will definitely be checking out. I had a Opus doll/stuffed animal (I don’t know how they call them) that somehow got lost in one of my many moves – he has a website with lots of art for sale and stuff – https://www.berkeleybreathed.com/

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