Lucy by the Sea is the latest offering from one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Strout. It is the fourth novel in her Amgash series, which includes My Name is Lucy Barton, Anything is Possible, and Oh, William.
Strout is a master at character development, so much so that it is possible to read this fourth book in the series independently of the others and catch onto the back story without a problem. It had been quite a few years since I read My Name is Lucy Barton but upon finishing this book, I went back and reread the rest of the series. In fact, I reread most of Strout’s novels including her Pulitzer Prize winner, Olive Kitteridge. So many of the characters wind their way in and out of her fiction and it is fun to find them playing a prominent or minor role in each one.
This story is set during the pandemic and Lucy finds herself transplanted from Manhattan to lockdown in a small seaside town in Maine with her ex-husband, William. Now that it has been a few years since the worst of the pandemic, it was intriguing to read about it as if it was a fictional event and then realize that this really is exactly what happened. It felt surreal.
Whether you begin at the end of the series with her latest novel or go back and start at the beginning, I recommend this author. Her stories are not action packed, but her characters are interesting, fun, quirky, engaging, lovable, and - somehow - very familiar.