“We want to know, I think, what it is like to be another person, because somehow this helps us position our own self in the world.” The words of writer Elizabeth Strout echo the complicated characters she creates in her rich novels and how those characters allow readers to delve into their own lives. Find her fiction on the shelves of the Monrovia Public Library.
Maine and New Hampshire born and bred, Ms.Strout, like many other writers, grew up wandering through the stacks of her local public library. She was a reader and writer from an early age and continued writing even after receiving a law degree. Fearing failure and not wanting to be pitied, she tried not to tell people that she wanted to be a full-time writer. It took years for her to write her first book Amy and Isabelle, about the difficult relationship of a mother and daughter.
Ms. Strout won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for Olive Kitteridge, a collection of 13 stories about the local people in a coastal Maine town and bound by their connection to the title character. Olive is a relentlessly honest and often demanding school teacher in this wondrous and perceptive book that shines a light on human nature.
Free of clichés and sentimentality, Elizabeth Strout’s most recent book, My Name is Lucy Barton, is available in print and on CD. This story of another mother-daughter relationship, this time where the characters have not seen each other in years, takes place when the daughter is recovering from illness and her mother comes to see her. Old memories and feelings of loneliness are re-kindled and blossom in a positive way in this short, satisfying novel.