The Story of Lucy Gault

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9780141010434: The Story of Lucy Gault

Captain Gault has decided that his family must leave Lahardane. They are after all Protestants living in the big house in rural Cork, and the country is in turmoil. It is 1921. But 8-year-old Lucy can't bear to leave the seashore, the old house, thewoods - so she hatches a plan. It is then that the calamity happens - an accident almost, but so vicious in its consequences that it blights the lives of the Gaults for years to come.

Trevor's new novel beautifully evokes rural Ireland and the tensions existing there, but also is Hardy-like in its portrayal of the impact of mere chance on a life.

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Review:

Chance is the central theme and malevolent force of William Trevor's The Story of Lucy Gault. In this haunting novel, suffused with melancholy, Trevor, a masterful chronicler of the sad, lonely and unfulfilled, recounts the tragic life story of a woman buffeted by fate.

The book opens in County Cork in 1921 with the eponymous Lucy as a small girl oblivious to the changes sweeping across Ireland. The Gaults are a Protestant land-owning family: Lucy's father, Captain Everard, was an officer in the British Army and her mother Heliose is English. When three local lads attempt to set fire to their ancestral home Lahardane (a country house in the vein of Elizabeth Bowen's Bowen's Court) Everard shoots and wounds one of the intruders, Horahan. The shot proves to have disastrous and reverberating consequences for the family: consequences that might appear melodramatic if Trevor didn't unfurl them with such subtlety and poise.

Everard and Heloise opt to leave Ireland but just before they are about to depart Lucy runs away. Convinced that she has drowned, the Gaults reluctantly head off into exile. Lucy is discovered alive but attempts to contact her kin fail. As her parents mournfully journey across Europe, Lucy, raised by two faithful servants, whiles away the years reading and waiting for their return. Her isolated existence at Lahardane is finally broken when Ralph, a young teacher, accidentally stumbles upon the house. Slowly, a romance blossoms, although Lucy, plagued by guilt and the ghosts of the past, is simply unable to grasp this chance of happiness. She does eventually find a kind of redemption (kept tantalisingly until the final chapters) but her tale, told with extraordinary beauty, compassion and precision, is ultimately one of endless disappointments. --Travis Elborough

Review:

'The Story of Lucy Gault persists with the quality which other writers have admired in him for 30 years' -- Prospect, September, 2002

'[a] gravely beautiful, subtle and haunting Irish novel' -- The Guardian, August 31, 2002

'a delicately rendered account of damage, guilt and grief' -- The Sunday Times, August 18, 2002

'simplicity, precision and a rare ability to understand the remarkable in what appears ordinary' -- The Sunday Telegraph, September 1, 2002

'there will only be a handful of novels worth reading this year...and this book is certainly one' -- Literary Review, September, 2002

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Trevor, William
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