‘The Story of Lucy Gault’ was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize way back in 2002, and like anything shortlisted for a prestigious award, you know the quality will be there: the writing was crisp, the characters unique and a well defined voice carried the novel.
And that’s where my problem lies.
This was a good story, a statement of how multiple lives can be affected by a single incident, made in the heat of the moment. It would’ve fitted neatly into a short-story, or padded and stretched into a novella, but in novel form the pace trundled along like the characters residing in the family house at Lahardane: briskly at first, then staggering and crawling towards the end of their days.
Remember the final scenes of the last Lord of the Rings film? Tears were shed, hugs were given, characters stared purposefully into the sunset? The audience reached for their jackets and grabbed their handbags, gobbled down the last of the popcorn, only for another ‘final’ scene to be shoehorned into life.
For me, Lucy Gault’s story was the same: it finished way before the end. You knew where it was going, where it had been, and I was continually flipping to the end to see how many pages remained.
Still, a rambling William Trevor is still an enjoyable William Trevor, so worth taking a nose.