Elizabeth Strout 2017 – Amgash #2
The citizens of Amgash, Illinois and its environs, people we met while visiting Lucy Barton’s hospital room in My Name is Lucy Barton, are more fully explored in the second book in the Amgash series.
Because of Strout’s gift of moving fluidly from present to past, it doesn’t really matter which book you read first; however, this reviewer recommends you read the second book first. Then, in My Name is Lucy Barton, when Lucy’s mother gossips about people in the this book you’ll be able to nod: ah yes – but there’s more to that story, and get a deeper insight into the character of Mrs. Barton as we see the behavior of others judged through her oddly skewed lens.
I didn’t realize it when listening, but this is actually a short story collection. As in a relay race, the baton is passed from one character to the next in shifting points of view; for two of the characters we travel all the way to Italy.
None of these characters is perfect; they are all human and some are badly broken. Still, compassion runs through Strout’s prose like a river – beautifully expressed by audiobook narrator Kimberly Farr – and maybe by reading, we will learn to view our fellow humans with a little more grace.