cover image Lucy


Jamaica Kincaid. Farrar Straus Giroux, $17.95 (164pp) ISBN 978-0-374-19434-5

Kincaid ( At the Bottom of the River ; Annie John ) has with this novel created an insouciant yet vulnerable narrator in the person of Lucy, a teenage girl from the West Indies who works as an au pair for a seemingly happy family in an unidentified city that one assumes is New York. Lucy is fascinated with her discoveries about American life--``At first it was all so new that I had to smile with my mouth turned down at the corners''--and with Mariah, Lewis and their four golden little daughters. Their pleasure in life intrigues Lucy, who observes, ``Even when a little rain fell, they would admire the way it streaked through the blank air.'' Lucy has renounced her own family and past, but at the same time she paradoxically expresses culturally imbued views with arrogance. She sees the world around her with both awe and contempt, and maintains a unique dead certainty about how people are. Her own sexual exploits seem more mysterious to her than the deterioration of Lewis and Mariah's marriage, which she presciently and detachedly observes. This is a slim book but Kincaid has crafted it with a spare elegance that has brilliance in its very simplicity. Lucy's is a haunting voice, and Kincaid's originality has never been more evident. First serial to the New Yorker; Literary Guild selection. (Oct.)