Thursday, September 27, 2012

Athena K's Review - The Story of Lucy Gault

Yet another Booker book with a fantastic set up that fails to deliver. Lucy is mistakenly, through a series of unfortunately events, abandoned by her parents at the tender age of seven. Under the impression that she has been downed, her parents abandon their home, flee Ireland, and in their grief do not look back for over 30 years. But Lucy has not died - she remains in the home waiting hopefully for her parents' surely imminent return. And the reader waits with Lucy.
But as time progresses, it becomes apparent to the reader well before it is understood by Lucy or the small community supporting her that the return of her parents can only be a disappointment. Lucy is no longer a litter girl but a grown woman, whose choices have left her isolated and outside of the sphere of the living for entirely too long. No reunion can achieve what either Lucy or her parents secretly wish for - for everything to be made whole. 
But because it is primarily a book about waiting, about life slipping by unlived, it is ultimately not a very engaging story. Perhaps this was William Trevor being too good at achieving what he set out to do. Sure, Trevor's prose is clear and descriptive, but it was not enough to keep me wanting more. I was consumed by the isolation and hopelessness, and the sense of wasted life that were the themes of this novel, and no ending could have reinvigorated me enough to induce me to recommend this book very highly to others.


  1. It is interesting that as reviewers we feel the need to recommend books because they give you a 'lift'. Is a book not a good book because it does what it sets out to do, sometimes things in life become irredeemably hopeless, what more can you say. Maybe 'enjoy' would be the wrong word, I have had that experience frequently when reading, but a book can still be interesting and engaging. I often find that even though I don't enjoy a book I might appreciate something about it on reflection after finishing, because it is more thought provoking than a nice neat story with a satisfying ending.
    thanks for your thoughts.

  2. I appreciate books that make you think...but, still, I hold pessimistic / depressing books at a higher standard than I do feel-good books. If the book is pessimistic, there has to be a redeeming quality for me. But that's just personal taste. Some people love sad or cynical books. :)

  3. Thanks for the feedback! I tend to really enjoy books other people think are "too depressing". But in this case, I think it the book failed to surprise me or offer an unexpected twist - somthing my favorite books tend to do. It was a book about waiting and the gradual loss of hope and time running out - and thats all. I think this is why I ended up not enjoying it as much.