THE STORY OF LUCY GAULT
Trevor (Death in Summer) is one of the finest prose stylists writing today; his delicately shaded novels and stories often have a Chekhovian sense of loss and longing. This novel, with its elegiac tale of a quiet, sad life lived in the shadow of a wrecked childhood, could well have been penned by the Russian master. Lucy is nine years old when her father, a wealthy Irish army captain married to an Englishwoman, shoots at and wounds one of a trio of locals trying to set his Irish country house, Lahardane, afire in the 1920s. Captain Gault and his wife, Heloise, decide they must leave for England and safety, but Lucy, who has known no other home but Lahardane, flees into the woods on the eve of their departure and cannot be found. Eventually convinced she has drowned at a nearby beach, her parents leave for a life of wandering and grieving exile in Europe, utterly out of touch with their old life. Lucy, however, is discovered, starved but alive, days later by two faithful retainers, who with the aid of a family lawyer keep the house open as Lucy grows into womanhood. The possibility of love enters her life, but her passionate attachment to the remote place repels her potential suitor and she lives on alone. Eventually, after the death of her mother, her father returns to live with her for a while. She even gets to know the wounded youth who once tried to burn down the house, now an elderly man in a mental institution. Lucy ends her days at Lahardane, out of touch with the modern world, but still in thrall to the past. Trevor's deeply poetic sense of the Irish character and countryside, his magical evocation of the passing of time, have never been more eloquent. This is a book to be quietly cherished. (Sept. 30)
Forecast:Admirers of the author will need no urging to seek this out, and widespread and positive review attention should help win new ones.