Still going strong on that New Year's Resolution over here! If you're new to the blog, you can catch up on my Resolution here!
This week's book was one I was very excited about! I first heard about it on Pinterest, and knew it was one I was going to have to grab! The story was equal parts poignant and moving, while being beautifully written. So, without further ado, here's my review of Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon!
Leaving Lucy Pear begins in 1917, when 18 year old Beatrice Haven leaves her daughter in the pear orchard. Her child, born out of wedlock, was to be given to an orphanage, but instead Bea puts her in the orchard in the hopes that the pear theives will take her instead. Bea gets what she wants; an Irish family takes the child.
The story jumps 10 years, and Bea is now a Temperance leader. Josiah Story, the son-in-law of the local quarry owner, sends Emma Murphy, a local Irishwoman, to be the nurse for Bea's uncle Ira in the hopes she'll endorse his running for mayor. Little does she know that Emma adopted Bea's daughter, now known as Lucy Pear.
Emma, in need of money, begins a perry still, and an affair with Josiah Story. Her husband, Roland, is away fishing, and running alcohol across the border. She continues to nurse Ira, and pitch in around the house after Bea's cousins and their kids come to visit.
After Bea has a mental collapse, a whistle buoy is removed from the bay in front of her house. This causes the ship with Roland aboard to crash, and him to lose a leg.
The town blames Bea, and Josiah withdraws her support. Bea sends checks to Emma and Roland, which they refuse. After sneaking out one night, Lucy ends up at the orchard outside Bea's house and realizes they are mother and daughter. Bea claims to have seen her daughter, which makes everyone think she's crazy.
Her husband, Albert, a gay man married to Bea for convenience, goes to Emma's house to get her to accept the checks, and sees Lucy instead. Bea and Lucy meet, and Bea begins to teach the Murphy children piano.
After they learn that Roland has been abusing Lucy, Emma moves herself and the children in with Bea.
The novel ends with Lucy Pear, disguised as a boy, boarding a train for Canada.
I loved this novel! While the beginning starts slowly, it picks up as the story lines all being to cross. I found the writing beautiful; it was compellingly written, and, at times, dishearteningly sad. Seeing Bea unravel, then heal after meeting Lucy, keep this novel from crossing over into truly depressing.
I like that Solomon crosses gender boundaries with Lucy; she's a ten year old girl who dresses as a boy to work at the quarry. She leaves for Canada dressed as a boy. It was nice to see Lucy fighting against the gender norms that lead to Bea's mental collapse. A sequel from Lucy's point of view would be amazing!
I give this book an enthusiastic 5 out of 5!