A difficult novel for any parent to read, William Trevor's The Story of Lucy Gault
recounts the tale of a young girl whose Protestant family is driven from its rural Irish home in 1921. Eight-year-old Lucy is in love with Lahardane: the old house itself, the woods, the nearby beach, the shells and fir cones and sticks that she collected like treasure. The day before her family is scheduled to flee Ireland, leaving the house and furnishings in the care of trusted servants, Lucy runs away. Her parents, finding a scrap of her clothing on the beach, assume the worst. Days later, they leave Lahardane, choosing not to settle in England, as they had planned, but to roam Europe in their grief, leaving no forwarding address. But Lucy has not killed herself; she's only broken her leg in the woods. Eventually she makes it back to the house to find her parents gone. She spends her childhood waiting to be forgiven for her wicked act, postponing all happiness until she can be reunited with her mother and father. Revealing more of the plot will spoil this lovely novel for its many readers. It is enough to note that Trevor's characteristic depth and emotional complexity are fully realized here in the watchful reticence of his young heroine and the strange but beautiful way she finds to express her own forgiveness. --Regina Marler
From Publishers Weekly
Trevor (Death in Summer) is one of the finest prose stylists writing today; his delicately shaded novels and stories often have a Chekhovian sense of loss and longing. This novel, with its elegiac tale of a quiet, sad life lived in the shadow of a wrecked childhood, could well have been penned by the Russian master. Lucy is nine years old when her father, a wealthy Irish army captain married to an Englishwoman, shoots at and wounds one of a trio of locals trying to set his Irish country house, Lahardane, afire in the 1920s. Captain Gault and his wife, Heloise, decide they must leave for England and safety, but Lucy, who has known no other home but Lahardane, flees into the woods on the eve of their departure and cannot be found. Eventually convinced she has drowned at a nearby beach, her parents leave for a life of wandering and grieving exile in Europe, utterly out of touch with their old life. Lucy, however, is discovered, starved but alive, days later by two faithful retainers, who with the aid of a family lawyer keep the house open as Lucy grows into womanhood. [...] Trevor's deeply poetic sense of the Irish character and countryside, his magical evocation of the passing of time, have never been more eloquent. This is a book to be quietly cherished. (Sept. 30) Forecast: Admirers of the author will need no urging to seek this out, and widespread and positive review attention should help win new ones.
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