A moving tale of history gone wrong and tragedy redeemed, by renowned Irish novelist Trevor (The Hill Bachelors, 2000, etc.).
The Gaults have lived in Ireland a long time—since the 16th century, at least, although they didn’t develop their estate at Lahardane until the 1700s. But the Irish have long memories, and the fact that the Gaults originally came to the island as adventurers in the service of the British Crown set them apart from the natives well into the 20th century. During the uprisings that raged throughout the countryside in the years immediately following WWI, the Gaults (like most Protestant landlords) found themselves in real peril of their lives. After a group of insurrectionists attempted to set fire to their house one night, Captain and Mrs. Gault decided that enough was enough and made hasty plans to leave Ireland. Their nine-year-old daughter Lucy, however, refused to go, running away the night before they were scheduled to depart. Unfortunately, the Gaults concluded that she was dead rather than missing, and they became all the more determined to put Ireland behind them forever. By the time the girl was discovered alive (by the household staff), Lucy’s parents were gone for parts unknown, and all attempts to track them down failed. So Lucy grew up alone at Lahardane, looked after by the kindly caretaker couple and provided for by the family solicitor. During these years, one of the young men who tried to torch the house at Lahardane becomes increasingly guilt-ridden over his actions, eventually deciding that he has to confront the people he attempted to kill. Captain Gault comes home after many years to an Ireland (and a daughter) changed beyond recognition. And a careful, difficult, strange, and beautiful reconciliation is worked out at Lahardane.
Trevor’s thirthieth—and one of his best. Though faintly mannered and stiff in the telling, it’s a beautiful story of history, grief, and forgiveness.