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The Story of Lucy Gault

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,487 Ratings  ·  431 Reviews
It is the summer of 1921 and eight year old Lucy Gault stays Close to the glens and Woods above Lahardane - The much loved house that her family is being forced to abandon. She knows that danger threatens and the Gaults are no longer welcome in Ireland.
Lucy, however, is headstrong and decides that someho she must force her patents into staying. But the Deep path she choose
Hardcover, 228 pages
Published 2002 by Viking
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Best Fiction Set in Ireland
80th out of 341 books — 305 voters
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Willie-Nillie? I don't think so!
29th out of 183 books — 10 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aug 07, 2011 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bridget
Beautifully written tale of Anglo-Irish family in 1920s Ireland and their daughter Lucy, filled with Irish fate and sadness but also with Irish resilience, forgiveness and wonderful language.

A child's rebellious act changes the lives of everyone within her sphere of influence; it's what every child fears come true. Lucy lives it and becomes mythic in her "grand" house in the small Irish town. To say more will be to tell the story which I don't want to do. Suffice it to say I was captivated by th
Feb 20, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: grazers not gulpers
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Shelves: 1001-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Holy Crap. This may be the most depressing thing I have ever read, well probably not most, but wow.

First off this is for my Gran who always goes on about "those bleedin mobile phones" and in her day they "didn't have a god damn phone in the house, can you imagine?"
No I can't. I think of Little House on the Prairie then instantly want to cuddle with the TV, my mobile or any of the indoor plumbing, just so they know how much I appreciate them. Well f this happened today none of this shit would ha
Jul 31, 2008 Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this book down. It is hauntingly beautiful, perfectly written, devastating. I will read it again and again.
Nov 11, 2010 Marialyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought the writing and the story telling was outstanding. Mr. Trevor has a way of making his characters ever so deep but does give the reader the equipment to understand their motivations and what drives them. I think he sums up this book in his own words. "Calamity shaped a life, when long ago, chance was so cruel. Calamity shapes the story that is told, and the reason for its being....

Lucy, a most tragic heroine, makes one mistake and suffers for it in innumerable ways. She lives her life d
Jul 01, 2014 janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about place and loss by a truly beautiful writer who concerns himself primarily with the fascinating vicissitudes and weaknesses of the human mind and spirit. He examines our human failing in such a way that we can marvel at and ponder them. I generally prefer his short stories, but he needed a longer form to explore these events. It is interesting to note, however, that this is remarkably spare for a novel. The plot draws you in and, though unusual, could very well happen. From t ...more
William Trevor's often been referred to as "the Irish Chekhov." I think this is a little unfair to both Trevor and Chekhov, since each is unique, but like Chekhov, Trevor is a master at "capturing the moment," and he's certainly one of the greatest short story writers who ever lived. The very fact that he hasn't yet been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature is simply confirmation of something most of us knew all along anyway: that the prize is often more of a political endowment than a literary ...more
John David
This review contains spoilers.

This is a wonderful, evocative novel tracing the life of the Gault family beginning during The Troubles in the twenties. Fearing reprisals against Irish nationalists and a previous attempt to burn down their family estate, Lahardane, the Captain Everard Gault and his wife Helene consider fleeing for the Continent. Lucy, their daughter, overhears them talking about moving, but wants to do anything but move from her home on the Irish seaside, the only place she has ev
Oct 04, 2012 Mmars rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ask any book lover and I think they will confirm having said “I wonder what was lost in translation.” It seems odd that I thought of that as I read this book. For this was perfectly Irish. Strangely, however, there was no conversational dialect. But rather, the word order and patterning, or the turn of the phrase, made me slow down and reread passages as if needing to translate them in order to understand. I’m not sure if that’s because I haven’t read any Irish authors lately or if Trevor’s styl ...more
So many times in our lives, we can look back at moments of chance or luck that changed everything. These moments can be positive or negative, major or minor: if you hadn't bought that raffle ticket on a whim, you wouldn't have won a vacation. If you had been distracted for a second longer, you would have been involved in a major car accident. What you do after these experiences is entirely up to you - you might go broke buying lottery tickets, convinced you're going to win again; you might drive ...more
Apr 23, 2010 Gina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Neal Adolph
Apr 07, 2015 Neal Adolph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads, european
This is a difficult book to rate, because I enjoyed it so much and yet was never really overjoyed by it. I think that is because of the story itself. And so, ignore the rating and read this instead.

William Trevor is often placed in the same exalted halls of contemporary writers as Alice Munro. I love Alice Munro, but until recently hadn't heard of Trevor. I'm glad I have, and took a chance to pick up a couple of his works for my present trip to Ireland. He, like Munro, is a masterful writer. Alm
Jul 02, 2012 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book of stories within stories. The title character, Lucy Gault, is at the center of these stories, but the genesis of the novel goes back in history for centuries. It is that long that the Gault family has been in Ireland, yet their British origins haunt them to the current day and when uprisings erupt throughout the countryside in the years immediately following WWI, the Gaults (like most Protestant landlords) found themselves in real peril of their lives. When they decide to leave a ...more
Jul 16, 2008 Liz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is no doubt that William Trevor is a beautiful writer. I love his style - so Irish, so descriptive. He crafts sentences like a landscape painter - always from a respective distance, but so rich in detail. The Story of Lucy Gault is sort of modern gothic, layered with tragedy and misunderstanding and set in a windswept coastal house that is as removed from society as its characters are removed from each other. At first, I was drawn into the situation, but as the story went on, a sense of ho ...more
Apr 20, 2014 Jumpsturdy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
William Trevor is one of the world's greatest living tragedians, and this is one of his two finest tragic novels. Although he claims that he is really a short story writer who fills out the pages of a novel only when the story takes on a life of its own, I have always found much more pleasure and meaning in his novels. It was a fluke that I found this in a bargain bin, although he is so revered that there is a statue of him in Mitchelstown, where he was born. Like Hubert Selby, Jr., before him, ...more
Layla Bing
Nov 14, 2009 Layla Bing rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Having been assigned to read The Story of Lucy Gault: A Novel by my Contemporary Irish Fiction professor, I was expecting a novel that stood on the shoulders of giants. But far from finding a story that drew inspiration from the hauntingly ethereal prose of W.B. Yeats or the Joycean immersive narrative style and devilishly cunning technique of strewing key information out for the careful reader to pick apart and reassamble over time, I found a story that moved forward in stilted, child-like pros ...more
Nancy Oakes
Break out the kleenex -- you'll definitely need it! How sad -- a novel about what could have been but wasn't and how a woman comes to live with tragedy.

Set in Ireland, at the time that it was divided, Captain Gault, his wife and their daughter Lucy all live at the family home of Lahardane. One night, their dog gets poisoned; the Captain fires at a group of young men and hits one. His wife is convinced that because she's English, they have been marked for trouble; he tries to go and talk to the f
Jul 07, 2008 Savvy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lucy Gault is a defiant child... desperate to change the course of events that are unfolding in her young life. She does the only thing she can do to stop her parents from leaving their beautiful country estate in Ireland at a very turbulent time...she runs away.

In the skillful hands of William Trevor, the sparse, sparkling narrative flows with elegiac effortlessness.

The repercussions from Lucy's immature actions continue to impact all that she loves and cherishes throughout this quietly stunn
Susan Johnson
Sep 10, 2011 Susan Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of wasted lives and what cculd have been. Sometimes a thoughtless decision causes consequences that last a lifetime. That's what happens to the Gaults. Due to a childish decision by Lucy, the Gaults lives are changed forever. What would have happenened if Lucy had emigrated to England with her parents instead of faking death? Would they have lived better lives? Would they have gone to Italy? Would they have returned to Ireland? It's the unknowing that's the hardest. The reader th ...more
When eight-year-old Lucy Gault's parents are forced to leave their home in Ireland for continental Europe, Lucy is heartbroken. She has come to love the home and the sea and can not imagine a life anywhere else. In attempts to keep her parents from leaving she runs away. Due to a series of unfortunate events her act leads her parents to believe she has killed herself and, after a time, leave Ireland. When Lucy returns to her home and finds her parents are gone she is overcome with grief, guilt a ...more
Mar 05, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to love this book--the premise was so tragic and gothic, and the setting of coastal Ireland so lovely and sad, but ugh. By the end, I found myself skimming pages to see if ANYTHING was going to happen which might compel me to feel anything at all for any of the characters. I felt like I was reading an outline, albeit descriptive, of what the novel was supposed to be when it was actually written. The story, which should have been rife with emotion and character development that ma ...more
Jean Carlton
Mar 14, 2015 Jean Carlton rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland
Intriguing story - The history of the troubles in Ireland ignite the problem when a man shoots toward some trouble makers threatening his home and accidentally hits a young boy in the shoulder. They live in fear of retribution and finally decide they must go away. Their little girl runs away because she does not want to move. The end result is a life of misunderstanding on both her part and her parents who leave the area believing her to be drowned at sea. It takes place in the early 20th cent
Didn't like this one as much as "Love and Summer." Ends too much on the sad side, though I suppose it must as this is a ballad, not a serenade. Still, a remarkable piece of writing. Piercing, heartbreaking, devastating.
Feb 14, 2016 Meg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-my-bookshelf, 2016
One of the saddest stories I've ever read. Haunting. The social customs of the age combined with chance events so easily fixed always leave my stomach in knots.
Aug 31, 2007 Brent rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: so-close
A very sad, powerful book written in clear prose.
Mij Woodward
Feb 21, 2016 Mij Woodward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's a moment in this book, toward the end, when the three main characters interact with each other in an unexpected way. Up to that point, the reader is held in suspense. Then, when the moment comes, the reader is swept along with them and feels what they feel.

I was overcome with emotion.

I had the same reaction in another book written by William Trevor a few years back, called Love and Summer. A moment of deep understanding, compassion, forgiveness.

It helps if one has knowledge about the Ir
Dec 31, 2015 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first I've read of the incredibly prolific Trevor and probably as good as anywhere to start (his 1250 page Collected Stories has been hovering over my head on the top shelf for a decade).
Hermione Lee's review of this in The Guardian when it came out mentions John McGahern's "That They May Face The Rising Sun" which I was also reminded of, though unsure, in view of the small number of contemporary Irish novelists I have read, whether I should really just start comparing them to each
Carolyn Mck
May 08, 2015 Carolyn Mck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure how I missed this when it came out in 2002. It's brilliant - a 5 star novel for me. It's a classic tragedy, where both chance and deliberate actions lead inevitably to loss, isolation and exile. There is the catharsis of grief and the reassurance of redemption.

The story begins in 1921 in a troubled Ireland. As a result of an abortive attack by young local lads, the Gaults decide they must leave Ireland. Their young daughter, Lucy, cannot bear to leave. Her resulting actions trigger
Lucy Gault’s family are planning to leave troubled Ireland behind them; their estate and their lives are at risk while they remain; however, it is in leaving that the true rift occurs and the consequences are played out with an emphasis on pathos, but also on forgiveness and healing.

I do not generally do well with ‘redemptive’ tales if there is no particular ‘happy’ or ‘tragic’ ending to hang one’s final feelings for a book on. Lucy Gault’s story was engagingly written and the plight of the char
Jul 30, 2011 Laysee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Story of Lucy Gault is a disquieting, haunting, and sad novel worthy of the Booker Prize for which it was nominated in 2002. Faced with the threat of arson to their home (the plight of many Anglo-Irish homes in 1921), Captain Everard and Heloise Gault prepared to flee Lahardane, their modest but much loved estate on the southeast coast of Ireland and go to England. But their daughter, eight-year-old Lucy, was in love with “the glen and the woods and the seashore, the flat rocks where the shr ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Please combine edition 3 23 Sep 12, 2014 05:28PM  
  • In the Forest
  • That They May Face The Rising Sun
  • Adjunct: An Undigest
  • Islands
  • Shroud
  • Thursbitch
  • Dining on Stones
  • Schooling
  • Celestial Harmonies
  • The Light of Day
  • Small Remedies
  • The Lambs of London
  • Gabriel's Gift
  • Spring Flowers, Spring Frost
  • The Colour
  • The Heart of Redness
  • The Red Queen
  • Vanishing Point
William Trevor, KBE grew up in various provincial towns and attended a number of schools, graduating from Trinity College, in Dublin, with a degree in history. He first exercised his artistry as a sculptor, working as a teacher in Northern Ireland and then emigrated to England in search of work when the school went bankrupt. He could have returned to Ireland once he became a successful writer, he ...more
More about William Trevor...

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“As the surface of the seashore rocks were pitted by by the waves and gathered limpets that further disguised what lay beneath, so time made truth of what appeared to be. The days that passed, in becoming weeks, still did not disturb the surface an assumption had created. The weather of a beautiful summer continued with neither sign nor hint that credence had been misplaced. The single sandal found among the rocks became a sodden image of death; and as the keening on the pier at Kilauran traditionally marked distres brought by the sea, so did silence at Lahardane.” 7 likes
“Memories can be everything if we choose to make them so. But you are right: you mustn't do that. That is for me, and I shall do it.” 7 likes
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