Summary and book reviews of The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor

The Story of Lucy Gault

By William Trevor

The Story of Lucy Gault
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2002,
    228 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2003,
    240 pages.

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Book Summary

William Trevor has long been acknowledged as one of the most extraordinary writers of our time, with a particular insight into the workings of the human heart. In The Story of Lucy Gault, he has surpassed himself.

The Gault family leads a life of privilege in early 1920s Ireland, but the threat of arson leads nine-year-old Lucy's parents to leave Ireland for England, her mother's home. Lucy cannot bear the thought of leaving Lahardane, their country house with its beautiful land and nearby beach, and a dog she has befriended. On the day before they are due to leave, Lucy runs away, hoping to convince her parents to stay, but instead she sets off a series of tragic misunderstandings that affect all of the inhabitants of Lahardane and the perpetrators of the failed arson attack for the rest of their lives.

In this brilliant, profound and moving story of love, guilt and forgiveness, Trevor has written a novel that stands alongside the best literature in the English language.

Excerpt
The Story of Lucy Gault

Captain Everard Gault wounded the boy in the right shoulder on the night of June the twenty-first, nineteen twenty-one. Aiming above the trespassers' heads in the darkness, he fired the single shot from an upstairs window and then watched the three figures scuttling off, the wounded one assisted by his companions.

They had come to fire the house, their visit expected because they had been before. On that occasion they had come later, in the early morning, just after one. The sheepdogs had seen them off, but within a week the dogs lay poisoned in the yard and Captain Gault knew that the intruders would be back. 'We're stretched at the barracks, sir,' Sergeant Talty had said when he came out from Enniseala. 'Oh, stretched shocking, Captain.' Lahardane wasn't the only house under threat; every week somewhere went up, no matter how the constabulary were spread. 'Please God, there'll be an end to it,' Sergeant Talty said, and went away. Martial law ...

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Introduction

William Trevor has long been regarded as one of Ireland's most evocative writers, a prose stylist of the highest order with a Chekhovian awareness of the emotional undercurrents of his characters' lives. And in The Story of Lucy Gault, Trevor lives up to, perhaps even surpasses, that reputation in a novel that explores the tragic consequences for one family of Ireland's deep-seated political strife.

The Story of Lucy Gault is set in provincial Ireland in the early 1920s at the height of civil turmoil and anti-English violence. Everard Gault, a retired Anglo-Irish army captain married to an Englishwoman, shoots and wounds one of the boys who has come in the night to set their house afire. This act sets in motion a ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews
Library Journal - Diana McRae

Trevor's smooth, spare prose captures the quirky workings of the heart, and compassion for the human condition mitigates the harsh blows that fate often deals his characters.

Booklist - Brad Hooper

This beautiful, haunting story of love and redemption rings with the resonance of a legend.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Trevor's deeply poetic sense of the Irish character and countryside, his magical evocation of the passing of time, have never been more eloquent.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A beautiful story of history, grief, and forgiveness.

New York Sun

Mr. Trevor's pure observation and transparent prose should shame other writers.

The Washington Post Book World

The Story of Lucy Gault.....once read, will never be forgotten.

Harper's Magazine

Beautifully drawn and revelatory.

The New Yorker

The tragedies that befall the Gaults are difficult to bear, because no one is clearly accountable. As the author delicately probes the nature of personal and political responsibility, the reader squirms with discomfort, longing for a scapegoat and yet aware of the implications of that longing.

Atlantic Monthly - Alice McDermott

Beautiful and devastating.... Trevor once again captured the terrible beauty of Ireland's fate, and the fate of us all—at the mercy of history, circumstance, and the vicissitudes of time.

The Boston Globe

One of the finest writers now at work in our language…No writer practicing the form today moves with nimbler assurance than Trevor across such an impressive gamut of social types and emotional connections.

Reader Reviews
mickey

This is a beautiful work about Ireland and its people, which is changing despite their wishes. It shows us how long-reaching our actions, or inactions, can be and how these people stayed long enough to feel their effects. What a beautifully written...   Read More

Anonymous

As I was reading the book, I found it difficult to believe its probability. In many books, the reader goes along quite easily with what the author has developed, but I found myself asking, "Would they really do that? I didn't find the actions ...   Read More

mary adams

In truth, this book was simply too vague. There was not enough motivation given, I felt, for a young girl to tie herself to a scabrous estate like Lahardane for life. I simply could not buy that one act of disobedience would make a child, no matter ...   Read More

Maryann

A very compelling story - hard to put down. The inevitability of Lucy's tragic life is very moving and ultimately logical. The depiction of the historical era and setting is brilliantly accurate. The formality of the family's relations among ...   Read More

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