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Posted December 26, 2002
A MASTER OF HIS CRAFT AT THE PEAK OF HIS POWERS
A master of his craft at the peak of his powers, William Trevor continues to pen stories that captivate. His spare prose sparkles, and his limning of the human heart inevitably brings a rush of recognition. Such is surely the case with his latest work, The Story of Lucy Gault. We first meet Lucy when she is nine-years-old, and living a privileged life in 1920s Ireland. Her father's family home is Lahardane, a spacious estate with orchards, woods to explore, and a beach that she especially loves. Captain Gault, her father, is justifiably proud of his family's domain, but feels forced to leave when there is an arson attempt. They will go to England, he decides, to Lucy's mother's home. As distressed as he is at the thought of leaving, the Captain tries to convince himself that all will eventually be well, "`Oh, all this will fall into place,' he murmured more than once, confident in his reassurance to himself. Leaving, arriving, the furniture one day settled around them again: time and circumstance would arrange their lives, as in exile so many other lives had been arranged." If Captain Gault and his wife, Heloise, could come to terms with the family's upheaval, Lucy could not. So desperate was she to keep her family at Lahardane that the day before their planned departure she ran away, hoping this will convince her parents to stay. Her father remembers the flawed reassurances they had offered Lucy, the promises to return that might not be kept. "Disobedience had been a child's defiance," he mused, "deception the coinage they had offered her themselves." But rather than forcing her parents to remain, Lucy has unintentionally initiated a dreadful series of events, years of loss and recrimination. Upon finding the girl's summer vest snagged on a rock by the shore it is believed that Lucy has drowned herself rather than leave her beloved Lahardane. Grieved and bereft her parents move on to travel from place to place throughout the world, always seeking the solace of a new beginning, forgetfulness in an unfamiliar place. Unbeknownst to them Lucy has survived and is taken in by trusted servants, Henry and Bridget, who have no idea how to contact the Gaults. Lucy grows to young womanhood, very much alone until she meets Ralph and falls in love. It is a love that will never be, as Lucy has consigned herself to a life of waiting for her parents' return so that she might be reunited with them and ask their forgiveness. As young womanhood gives way to middle age Lucy comes into contact with a mentally incompetent man, the same man who had tried to burn her family home so many years ago. In scenes rich with forgiveness she visits him in the home to which he has been assigned. William Trevor has been called "the greatest living writer of short stories in the English language." Words of praise pale beside his wonderfully lyric prose, as he reveals longings shared by all of us and paints luminous word pictures of Ireland. Read "The Story of Lucy Gault" for pure pleasure; keep it as a treasure of English literature.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 24, 2009
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