This is the latest in a series of occasional posts featuring books I read years ago about which I was wildly enthusiastic at the time, wanting to press a copy into as many hands as I could.
If you’re a regular visitor to this blog you’ve probably twigged that I’m a fan of Irish writing, an admiration that I’ve had for quite some time, as you’ll see from the publication year for William Trevor’s The Story of Lucy Gault.
One night in 1921 – Ireland recently partitioned into the Protestant dominated North and the Catholic Republic – three men appear in the grounds of Lahardane to set fire to the house. Springing to the defence of his English wife and their daughter, Lahardane’s Protestant owner fires his shotgun meaning only to frighten the trespassers but wounding one of them. The young man’s family are deaf to Everard’s pleas for forgiveness. For their own safety the Gaults must leave Ireland but eight-year-old Lucy can’t bear to go. She runs away, determined to make her parents stay. Believing Lucy to be dead, they turn their backs on their beloved home and when she’s found alive, can’t be traced. Lucy’s life becomes one of atonement for the wrong she feels she has done her parents. Written in quietly elegant, graceful prose, this achingly sad novel is about chance, forgiveness and redemption.
Trevor’s writing seems to me to offer a template for the best of Irish writing – spare yet lyrical with an emotional intensity that is never melodramatic. I’m happy to say he was such a prolific writer that I’ve still not read all he’s written. If you’d like to read more about his work both Cathy at 746Books and Kim at Reading Matters are also ardent fans and have spent 2023 celebrating him.
What about you, any blasts from the past you’d like to share?
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