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0623 | The Story of Lucy Gault | William Trevor

0623 | The Story of Lucy Gault | William Trevor post image

Context: while reading this, I visited one of Saudi Arabia’s largest oil refineries on a business trip to Yanbu’.

What a beautiful novel is Trevor’s paean to loss, regret and life itself. I can’t tell you how it cleansed the palate after the first three books of Updike’s Rabbit series. It restored my faith in the novel as a vehicle for the expression of human sensitivity.

Lucy is young when her parents, fearful of the turning political tide, make plans to leave the only home she has known on the beautiful Irish coast. But tragedy strikes, and the novel enters a period of mourning, separation and loss which William Trevor’s prose paints perfectly.

In fact, it is a testament to Trevor’s skill as a writer that the novel does not descend into utter melodrama, such is the tragedy you are faced with. I’m not sure anyone but an Irish writer could have portrayed such depth of loss with such subtle prose. It’s enchanting.

I’ll admit that there are a couple of contrivancies in the plot to make the story work as it does, but you’re so enthralled, you really don’t notice them. Like a Bronte fan reading Jane Eyre, you’re willing to forgive the author at least this much.

Apparently, Trevor’s characters are

Those who cannot accept the reality of their lives create their own alternative worlds into which they retreat.


Lucy Gault perfectly fits this mould and finds the world that she creates cannot sustain the penetration of the realities of those who love her. There is a tremendous sadness in these episodes, and it makes you yearn to comfort her.

Lucy’s life is a lesson to those of us who fear fear itself. It can be a big bad world out there, but it can also be wonderful, and to fear the former is a surefire way to ensure you never make it far enough to see the latter.

As all good novels, it makes you wonder who around you embodies the non-fiction version of the fiction you’ve read. How many Lucy Gaults do we know who long for love but cannot receive it for fear it will disturb their safety? Trevor’s novel has raised my awareness and, hopefully, helped me to trust that to love and be loved is worth the risk. Let me never say, like Lucy

I am not somebody to love

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