This is not to say that I didn't enjoy MNILB, but I kept feeling that I was missing a piece of the puzzle. There is little dialogue throughout, it is more of an exploration of a woman's life from the viewpoint of her relationship with her mother. Lucy Barton is in the hospital for a non-specific illness and her mother comes to visit. She has not seen her mother in years and they never speak on the phone. It is an unexpected visit. I thought that the longing for connection between them was well written. The relationship that Lucy has with her own daughters is also explored a bit in the last part of the book. But this felt like a book where the main character has to create herself. She leaves her hometown in Illinois after school and never really returns. Her mother calls her Wizzle (interesting nickname that is never explained) and her husband calls her Button. There is an incident mentioned that is never specifically named. Lucy calls it the THING. It is certainly sexual in nature and has something to do with her father, but we never learn what it is. Talk about maddening! I feel this is intentional, yet it seems to create a wall rather than letting you understand the character.
I will say that I am glad that I read it. I am left with lots of questions around the book and I enjoyed Strout's writing a lot! So while it was not a wholly satisfying read, it was curious and interesting enough for me to want to read another book by her.