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The Story of Lucy Gault

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  5,659 ratings  ·  572 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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3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,659 ratings  ·  572 reviews

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Jim Fonseca
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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

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
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
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
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 Ga
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland, favourites
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?
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
Shelves: other-man-booker
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 26, 2010 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.
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
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
Oct 23, 2010 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 31, 2008 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.
Jul 30, 2011 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
Meriam Mabrouk
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
What I like most about the work of William Trevor is that often, his characters reflect the architecture of his own experience of exile as an Irish writer. This novel is graceful, beautifully crafted, and poignant. It is set in 1920s County Cork, in a rural area near a fictional town called Enniseala. The novel follows a single event: a child, Lucy Gault, decides to run away as the family home is attacked and the parents feel obliged to move to England, worried of a second attack and the turmoil ...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 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
Mar 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 01, 2014 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
Sep 24, 2012 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
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
Layla Bing
Oct 25, 2009 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
Neal Adolph
Jul 03, 2013 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
Mar 16, 2013 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
Jul 02, 2012 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 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
Susan Johnson
Sep 10, 2011 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
Description: 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, their country house with its beautiful land and nearby beach, and a dog she has befriended. On the day before ...more
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  • Adjunct: An Undigest
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  • Schooling
  • That They May Face The Rising Sun
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  • The Lambs of London
  • Small Remedies
  • Spring Flowers, Spring Frost
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  • Celestial Harmonies
  • The Deposition of Father McGreevy
  • The Talk of the Town
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
“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.” 10 likes
“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.” 4 likes
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