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The Story of Lucy Gault

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  6,442 ratings  ·  669 reviews
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, the woods - so she hatches a plan. It is then that the calamity happens. ...more
Paperback, 227 pages
Published December 1st 2006 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2002)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  6,442 ratings  ·  669 reviews

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This is not a ghost story. But all the characters are haunted.

Haunted by loved ones lost, by opportunities not seized, paths untrod, and lives not lived. A house where the only portrait is of “a distant ancestor whose identity had been unknown for as long as anyone of the present could remember” and neighbouring woods silently echo to the memories of those who are there no more. The strand bears shadows of footprints of those who once walked beside the sea, and keening shipwrecks make “a forlor
Jim Fonseca
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t usually binge on authors but I’ve enjoyed reading Trevor on and off since last November. This is my fifth, including Summer in the Garden, Love and Summer, Felicia’s Journey and The Children of Dynmouth.

Like most of the other Trevors, the setting is a small, somewhat stifling, village in coastal Ireland and the characters are what I will call listless and almost sex-less, yet not unhappy.


Trevor always introduces us to some background going back to the “Troubles.” In this book the main c
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xx2017-completed
This finely crafted novel follows the life of Lucy Gault through childhood, young adulthood, middle age, and on into her elder years. When she was nine years old in 1921, she was confused by the decision her parents made to leave Ireland for a time due to the troubles and their fear of harm coming to them. She decided to run away, but due to various circumstances, her parents thought she had drowned.

Her parents did leave for the continent and her mother mourned Lucy’s loss so deeply that she ref
3.5 stars

“Disobedience had been a child’s defiance, deception the coinage they had offered her themselves.”

Misunderstandings and miscommunications abound in human relationships. Perhaps even more so when one is dealing with a young child. A child senses something not quite right in his or her world, but is not able to piece together all those complicated parts to fashion the whole picture. When eight year old Lucy Gault learns of her parents’ plan to abandon her beloved home for another country,
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dolors by: My yearning for Ireland
Shelves: read-in-2017
This is a story made of harrowing what ifs.
What if Ireland hadn’t been a divided country when Lucy Gault and her parents were leading an honest life in Lahardane?
What if a child hadn’t made a home of the seashore and the leaden skies and rugged cliffs of the Irish coastline? A home she wasn’t ready to abandon?
What if guilt and miscommunication hadn’t ruled the fate of the Gaults and condemned them to perpetual isolation?

Tragedies often make legends. This is the case of Lucy Gault and the events
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
A mantle of melancholy settled over my shoulders as I was reading this.  Tormented souls, things left unsaid, abject loneliness, lives half-lived.  Beautifully written, it made my heart ache.
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"It is our tragedy in Ireland that for one reason or another we are repeatedly obliged to flee from what we hold dear. Our defeated patriots have gone, our great earls, our famine emigrants, and now the poor in search for work. Exile is part of us."

This book is a perfect example of what has been called the Sliding Door Theory, when inconsequent events can change the trajectory of future events. It, or variations of it, has been called the butterfly effect, or simply the what-ifs and the almosts
Violet wells
Dec 25, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The four books of William Trevor's I've read were written respectively in 1991, 1994, 1996 and, this one, 2002 which means he was in his sixties or seventies and probably past his prime. And not surprisingly perhaps why he seems a writer completely out of step with the times in which he lived. He reminds me of myself at school - when writing a story I would write it not with my own sensibility but with an attempt at appropriating the sensibility of my favourite writers from the past. Not once ha ...more
Diane Barnes
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Can a tragic life ever be a beautiful thing? It can when written by William Trevor. I am amazed that it has taken me so long to discover this author. I cannot really describe this novel because the series of events is equal parts unbelievable and yet inevitable. It is credible because the plot is so finely crafted that not a detail is missing. In our "instant everything" society today, that the lack of communication in 1921 could bring such heartbreak is remarkable. So many chances lost, so many ...more
Apr 23, 2011 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
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I steeled myself for some sorrow when I decided to read this novel. After reading all of Trevor's short stories, I believe that a heavy infusion of melancholy is a requisite part of his writing - and part of his power. But there is more here than Lucy's bad luck, guilt and unrequited love. There is plenty of kindness and love in these pages. And it turns out that happiness can be found in unexpected ways. ...more
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-read, ireland
“She should have died a child; she knows that but has never said it to the nuns, had never included in the story of herself the days that felt like years when she lay among the fallen stones. It would have lowered their spirits, although it lifts her own because instead of nothing there is what there is.”

There certainly are some flaws in this story and it probably rather deserves 4 stars, but as I really enjoyed this book, I'll give it a full 5 stars - deal with it! :-)

Ireland, 1921. Captain G
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Be warned. This novel is pretty depressing. It is full of missed opportunities, guilt and regret. In fact, this novel should be titled “The Story of Lucy Guilt”. A young girl throws a hissy fit and in doing so, irrevocably steers the fate of the Gault family into oblivion.

Set in 1921, it was a tumultuous time in Ireland. Nestled between the Irish War of Independence and the ensuing civil war, there was a sense of inevitability of their fading fortunes. The rot, however, did not start there. Th

Only the debris of wreckage, and not much of that, was left behind by the sharks who fed on tragedy: the fishermen, too, mourned the death of a living child.

The debris of wreckage pulls through this novel like a strong current -- again and again, the circular flow of the whirlpool sucks one soul, and then another, and another, down into its depths.

In all its permutations, it is an absurd tale of loss and woe -- unbelievable in every aspect, and yet so believable it will haunt me and follow
A difficult book to find words to describe, but a pleasure to read - a hauntingly memorable and beautifully elegiac story of rural Ireland. A quiet revelation - reflective, moving and redolent of a lost world.
Feb 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, ireland
Calamity shaped a life when, long ago, chance was so cruel. Calamity shapes the story that is told, and is the reason for its being: is what they know, besides, the gentle fruit of such misfortune's harvest? ...more
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
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
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I doubt that I would have read this book apart from The Mookse And The Gripes group reading of the 2002 Booker shortlist. And I can see that some of my Goodreads friends (all of whom I know have impeccable taste) have already read it and rated it highly, so I was looking forward to it.

Unfortunately, I have to say that I was disappointed. Although I can’t quite put my finger on why I felt let down, because the writing is undoubtedly good and the sense of time and place is well evoked. You would t
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 14, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Modern novel but written in a classical style. Good stuff.
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland
I discovered this highly-acclaimed Irish author through BBC Radio 4 (a selection from his “Last Stories”) and immediately sent for a book by him, choosing at random The Story of Lucy Gault. In the book, Lucy’s father writes her name in the sand. “Lucy Gault, he wrote. ‘Now, that’s a lovely name.’”
Despite three visits there over the years, I know very little about Ireland and don’t pretend to understand it. As soon as you open William Trevor you know that Ireland, in his case the Republic, is in
Jun 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Claire Fuller
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of Lucy Gault starts when Lucy is eight, almost nine in 1921, when her father shoots through the shoulder a possible member of the IRA who has come to burn the 'big house' that the Gault family have lived in for generations. These actions - the possible burning, and the shooting - start a chain of events that change the Gault's lives, and the man who is shot, for ever.

The book is suffused with a feeling of melancholy (in fact like all of Trevor's books that I've read) as well as a kin
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-man-booker
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
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started to read William Trevor’s books in the late 1990s and consider him as one of my favorite authors. His fiction and short stories are equally good. I joined GoodReads about 2 months ago and wanted to start to build up my library/books read here, since I do enjoy reading.

I gave it my highest rating A+... from the inside of the front of the book jacket a blurb by Thomas Flanagan: William Trevor is wonderful, lyrical, hilarious when he wants to be, graced with endless powers of laconic and
Jul 31, 2008 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. ...more
May 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has a wonderful cover and blurb which instantly drew me to it, The opening chapters are quite chilling and gripping and you are really drawn in to the story, but by 70 pages the story seems to slow dowm in pace and for me the plot was not believable and I found by the end of the book there were a lot of unanswered questions.
Short, sweet, and simple yet heartbreaking and deep at the same time. I read this book on the plane on the way to and from a job interview and could not put it down. Tragic with interesting characters.
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
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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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