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The Story of Lucy Gault

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,542 Ratings  ·  433 Reviews
The stunning new novel from highly acclaimed author William Trevor is a brilliant, subtle, and moving story of love, guilt, and forgiveness. The Gault family leads a life of privilege in early 1920s Ireland, but the threat of violence leads the parents of nine-year-old Lucy to decide to leave for England, her mother's home. Lucy cannot bear the thought of leaving Lahardane ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 26th 2003 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2002)
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The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeAngela's Ashes by Frank McCourtDubliners by James JoyceDracula by Bram StokerThe Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats by W.B. Yeats
Best Irish Literature
45th out of 444 books — 525 voters
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Best Irish Books
63rd out of 499 books — 414 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
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
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
Oct 23, 2011 John David rated it it was amazing
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
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
Mar 18, 2013 Ursula rated it really liked it
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
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
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
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
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
Stefan Bachmann
May 07, 2016 Stefan Bachmann rated it it was amazing
"Kitty Teresa said she'd like to be a seagull, but Bridget said Kitty Teresa hadn't the brains for it."

I kept expecting something horrible to happen toward the end of this book, some hugely shocking revelation that would tie everything up in a neat and tragic bow, like Atonement, where you're just left crying in a puddle BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS SAD.

The back cover of The Story of Lucy Gault uses words like "tragic misunderstandings" and "devastating", which it is, but there's also a deranged man w
Apr 20, 2014 Jumpsturdy rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
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
Jul 18, 2009 El rated it it was ok
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
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
Aug 08, 2010 Charlaralotte rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
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.
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.
Deepika Ramesh
Mar 20, 2016 Deepika Ramesh rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, melancholic, tragic tale. My blog:
Mar 05, 2016 Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A story of true beauty, tenderness and sorrow written with the highest artistry. This is one for the ages.
Aug 31, 2007 Brent rated it it was ok
Shelves: so-close
A very sad, powerful book written in clear prose.
Mij Woodward
Feb 21, 2016 Mij Woodward rated it it was amazing
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
Julie Failla Earhart
Feb 14, 2016 Julie Failla Earhart rated it really liked it
Taking place in the early 1920s, this 2002 novel from Trevor, one of the finest writers of contemporary times.

The Gault family is driven from their beloved home, Lahardane, in 1921. When a trio of rowdy local teenagers tries to set the rural Irish mansion afire, Lucy’s father, a wealthy Irish army captain, wounds one of them. The Gault, fearing for their safety, decide to fell to England. They will leave their home in the care of two faithful servants.

Lucy, who has known no other home, disagree
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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
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“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.” 8 likes
“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
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