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Lucy: A Novel Paperback – September 4, 2002

3.8 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lucy, a teenager from the West Indies who has renounced her family and past, comes to America to work as an au pair and detachedly observes the deterioration of her employers' marriage. "This is a slim book but Kincaid has crafted it with a spare elegance that has brilliance in its very simplicity," said PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Like her Annie John ( LJ 4/1/85), Kincaid's new heroine travels the coming-of-age road. Lucy, a 19-year-old West Indi an, sheds her cloistered colonial upbringing by accepting a job as an au pair in New York--the perfect setting for satisfying her gluttonous appetite for both mental and sensual stimulation. The startling disintegration of her employers' marriage triggers flashbacks of home and family; the reflected details are unsettling. Lucy finds being born "woman" places her in a territory she wants to explore and at the same time escape. As she begins her exploration, cathartic tears blur the first pages of her diary. But Lucy plunges ahead, reassured by the discovery of an authentic self. Strong in style and substance, dazzling with its sharp-edged prose, this is a novel no one should miss. Literary Guild selection; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/90.
- Bibi S. Thompson, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition (September 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374527350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374527358
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dera R Williams VINE VOICE on October 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
This classic, Kincaid's tale of a West Indian girl who comes to the States and becomes an au pair to a wealthy white couple, has been re-released. I first read this novel about ten years ago as my introduction to Kincaid's writing and was both intrigued and in awe of her language, themes, and symbolic language.
Until she was nineteen years old, Lucy Potter had not ventured from her own little world on the small island where she was born. Now she is living with a family and learning a culture that is very different from her own. Lewis and Mariah and their four daughters want Lucy to feel like she is part of the family but at first she finds it difficult to fit in. She just wants to do her duty and in her off-hours discovers a new world through her friend Peggy and sexuality through young men, Hugh and Paul.
Lucy often reflects on her life back on the island; the conflicts between she and her mother, and the British influence on the islanders. She remembers when she and her friends would read the Book of Revelations using the passages to terrify each other. She also remembers the time her mother showed her how to mix herbs that supposedly would cleanse a woman's womb but what they both knew was an abortion remedy. Lucy knows what is expected of her, to study for a respectable job like a nurse and to honor her family. She finds out that the tidy, neat world of the family she has come to love is not all it purports to be and how silence is a universal language.
Kincaid's language is outstanding in remembering her home; "the color of six o'clock in the evening" is just one example. It is well known that her writing draws from her life experiences as in The Autobiography of My Mother and My Brother and I look forward to her latest offering, Mr.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a very simple story which starts off with several conventional plot twists but ends on a poignant, and somewhat surprising, note. However, by the novel's end, Lucy manages to captivate the reader, and the story somehow manages to resonate within the reader long after the novel has been finished. Kincaid tells Lucy's story eloquently and lyrically and convincingly draws out several themes which help to give the story breadth and depth. Dispossession and alienation from one's homeland and family, mother-daughter relationships, the middle class family, and Lucy's sexuality are only some of the themes that are explored in the novel. Lucy's voice is strong and individual, and she clearly emerges as a character of complexity and strength.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In a graceful and simplistic, yet deceptive, writing style, Caribbean author Jamaica Kincaid examines and scrutinizes the [white middle class] American way of life in LUCY. This novel is 164 pages of pure social commentary, whether it be of America or of Kincaid's native Antigua. Throughout her work, Kincaid confronts challenging issues related to mother-daughter relationships, marriage, puberty and sexuality, and love. This book was meant to be talked about.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had not expected to find Jamaica Kincaid's fiction to so resemble the (men's) existentialist fictions of another century. But there is a proto-feminist--or at least socially grounded twist to the alienated protagonist as she, Lucy, a West Indian Black is thrown into a white world--the au pair for an upper class white family in New england or some North East region of the states-- fleeing her island and mother. Her complicated love/hate feelings for her mother (shadowed by love hate feelings for the white woman she works for) twist the usual existentialist turn on identity, even race, from the usual tale of solitary ego to a troubled meditation on a daughter/mother dyad also complicated by race and cultural alienation. she experiences the burgeoning sexuality of her 19 year old self --sex with men mostly--as something outside of herself while describing it also as fun and adventurous. Actually I see how this review is obscure because i really have to go back to re-read to get more fully the different layers of what Kincaid is doing, but it's a very compelling and nuanced read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The complex and seemingly sinister disposition of "Lucy", appropriately named as the feminine version of Lucifer, is told in a simplistically subtle beauty that was either appreciated or lost on the members of the Uptown Girls Harlem Book Club. The story is of a young Caribbean au pair who recounts her experiences of her native land as she makes a home for herself in a cold New York-like city. Through her eyes the reader watches the dissolution of a flimsy marriage whose end is solidified when the handsome cultivated husband licks the neck of his wife's best friend.

Lucy has a sour personality that is surpirsingly delicate. The issues of finding oneself, the relationships between mother and daughter, and the liberation, or lack thereof, of a young woman in the late 1960s is explored in a an unassuming wisdom that is quiet yet poignant. The book is short and makes for a quick read but the topics discussed are timely and easily filled, at least, an hour of our meeting.

The book is sexy. Despite the sexual exploits of Lucy with males and a female, the book lacks the vulgarity prevalent in popular fiction today. The author is almost surgical with vocabulary and punctuation usage which makes for a delightful read whose beauty is either noticed instantly or comes to fruition like a sunrise when the words are fully reflected upon.
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